“It’s not on the run, and that ideology is actually, it’s sadly, it feels like it’s exponentially growing,” said outgoing Defense Intelligence Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn at a security conference over the weekend.
Flynn was referring to the ideological pull rather than the capabilities of Islamic terror networks. Nevertheless, this statement is an indictment of President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection strategy, which relied primarily on the execution of Osama bin Laden to suggest that the threat of Islamic terrorism had receded.
According to Washington Free Beacon reporter Bill Gertz, Flynn joined a number of intelligence experts over the weekend who said that he threat posed by Islamic radical terrorism has only grown under Obama’s watch.
Flynn raised concerns about the expansion of terror networks in Iraq and Syria as well as the secure foothold that al-Qaeda central command has established in tribal regions of Pakistan.
“These organizations that are out there that are well-organized, they are well-funded, they reach into these young people and they pull them in,” Flynn said. “And there seems to be more and more of them today than there were when I first started this thing in, post 9/11.”
According to Gertz, Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a former undersecretary for defense intelligence, went a step farther than Flynn in indicting the White House’s counterterror approach. “I believe that al Qaeda has grown in numbers and influence since the Obama administration took office,” Boykin told conference attendees.
A quick glance at the headlines confirms these terror analysts’ fears. In Libya, where Obama presided over the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, al-Qaeda affiliates are rapidly taking control of the country. In Iraq, ISIS – a group only distinguishable from al-Qaeda in their markedly more brutal tactics – is growing in strength. “An Al Qaeda-linked group fighting in Syria has released video of the first American to carry out a suicide attack in the country’s civil war,” an Associated Press report read.
A report Gertz filed last week indicates that the next generation threat from Islamic terrorism may take place on the far more devastating digital battlefield:
Al Qaeda, nation states, and criminals are preparing for major cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure that could be comparable to the devastating September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, a senior Justice Department official said on Thursday.
“We’re in a pre-9/11 moment, in some respects, with cyber,” said John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security in the Justice Department.
Carlin also said during remarks at a security conference that China’s government dared the Obama administration to provide court-level evidence of Chinese military hacking against the United States.
Terrorism has receded as a chief American concern as the memory of the September 11th attacks fades. Today, while still lagging far behind domestic concerns, the issue of terrorism has begun to creep back into Americans’ minds as the world grows more violent. The threat of terrorism never went – in fact, it may be worse than ever.