Barack Obama used his weekly address to acknowledge what everyone already knows — that the botched terrorist attack on Northwest 253 on Christmas Day was an al-Qaeda operation. However, despite the fact that everyone also knows that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab came from a wealthy family in Nigeria and studied at an expensive university in London, Obama made sure to lay the blame on Yemen’s “crushing poverty”:
President Barack Obama laid blame Saturday on an al-Qaida affiliate for a Christmas Day terrorist attack that has prompted a top-to-bottom review of how the nation’s intelligence agencies failed to prevent the botched bombing aboard a Detroit-bound airliner.
In his most direct public language to date, the president described the path through Yemen of 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to destroy Northwest Flight 253. The president also emphasized that the United States would continue its partnerships with friendly countries — citing Yemen, in particular — to fight terrorists and extremist groups around the globe. …
“We’re learning more about the suspect,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address that the White House released on Saturday as the president vacationed in Hawaii.
“We know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies. It appears that he joined an affiliate of al-Qaida, and that this group — al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula — trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America,” the president said.
Yes, Yemen is a country with crushing poverty — and that has as much relevance to the attack as the fact that Yemen also sits across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, another failed state with burgeoning terrorist networks. AQ exists in Yemen because its status as a failed state allows the terrorists to operate with near-impunity, along with a certain amount of official sympathy. The latter can be seen from their catch-and-release program for terrorists, the exact same program on which Obama proposed to rely in order to empty Gitmo of its Yemeni detainees.
But “crushing poverty” had about as much to do with this attack as Christmas, which is to say only coincidence. Abdulmutallab lived a life of privilege. His father ran Nigeria’s Central Bank, and he had access to the best education money could buy. Instead, he got sucked into radical Islam and decided to dedicate his life to murdering others, and not out of any sense of hunger for food, but from the hunger of deadly malice that ate at his soul.
Fighting terrorism is tough enough without remaining married to mythology. Many regions of the world suffer from “crushing poverty,” and yet all of the large-scale international terrorism these days comes from radical Islam, and its leaders and foot soldiers seem to come more from Abdulmutallab’s background than otherwise.
Meanwhile, Newsweek reports that Obama’s pre-Christmas Homeland Security briefing never mentioned Yemen as a potential threat:
President Barack Obama received a high-level briefing only three days before Christmas about possible holiday-period terrorist threats against the US, Newsweek has learned. The briefing was centered on a written report, produced by US intelligence agencies, entitled “Key Homeland Threats”, a senior US official said.
The senior Administration official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that nowhere in this document was there any mention of Yemen, whose Al-Qaeda affiliate is now believed to have been behind the unsuccessful Christmas Day attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bring down a transatlantic airliner with a bomb hidden in his underpants. However, the official declined to disclose any other information about the substance of the briefing, including what kind of specific warnings, if any, the President was given about possibly holiday attacks and whether Yemen came up during oral discussions.
None at all? Hadn’t the administration just assisted Yemen in bombing a meeting in AQ that killed as many as 30 terrorist leaders? Wouldn’t Obama have at least asked about Yemen as a potential threat?
And doesn’t this sound very, very familiar?