It’s the WMD argument redux, with individual terrorists now playing the part of nukes and anthrax: if X isn’t inside the country, we’ve got no business getting involved. So jihadis get a new base of operations on an entirely different continent. So what?
If Bush can’t see the trees for the forest, these tools are far, far down the path in the opposite direction. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross explains:
In the first place, the criteria these two gentlemen use is flawed: there’s no reason to make the names of specific terrorists the determinative measurement, rather than the seventeen active terrorist training camps in the country, the al-Qaeda-like propaganda tapes that the ICU has been producing, and the conspicuous presence of foreign fighters. But beyond that, this also illustrates one of the flaws of making the study of terrorism all about the Bush administration. Either the ICU is a threat or it isn’t: two phone calls to a couple of public affairs officers with no expertise in Somalia is unlikely to resolve the matter.
But if it’s names they want, it’s names they shall have. The New York Sun identifies four terrorists in particular the U.S. is worried about, including two prime suspects in the 1998 embassy bombings. Plus:
In addition to the presence of Al Qaeda operatives inside the union’s military wing, the Treasury Department’s financial intelligence unit has tracked money from traditional Al Qaeda financiers in Saudi Arabia to the Islamic Courts Union accounts in East Africa. Al Qaeda leaders have urged fellow jihadists in recent videos and audio recordings to support the union’s fight against the transitional government and the Ethiopians.
But don’t take their word for it.
Military and intel officials tell the Sun they expect the deposed Islamists to organize an insurgency. The Ethiopian media’s expecting it, too: one newspaper in Addis Ababa chose for its front-page victory story the headline … “Mission Accomplished.” It’s the prelude to another familiar debate that’s just heating up in that country:
Ethiopian leaders are calling the military intervention a smart preemptive strike against the spread of religious extremism in the Horn of Africa. They say the world should thank Ethiopia for defeating a coalition of militant Islamists that U.S. officials have accused of having links to terrorists, including Al Qaeda.
Others here worry that the incursion could backfire over time by stirring political instability at home or driving Islamic militants to set their sights on this nation.
And finally, your quote of the day:
“It’s self-defense,” said Amare Aregawi, editor of the Reporter newspaper and a former rebel fighter. “People always say, ‘Don’t touch the terrorists. You’ll aggravate them.’ What are we supposed to do? Flatter them?”