Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) tried to make this point as a rebuttal to the military’s recommendation to increase troops and operations in Afghanistan, but The Hill points out that Webb forgot a critical data point in this argument. We know about three of these plots, but Webb appears to imply that we have found a couple of more that haven’t hit the news. The plot that got the most attention is also the one that invalidates Webb’s argument:
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said Thursday that a handful of terrorist plots in the United States have been thwarted in the last few weeks.
During an interview on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” show, the Armed Services Committee member said, “We just had four or five different viable threats here reported over the past few weeks of activities, terrorist activities, that we were able to stop.”
He added, “They weren’t coming from Afghanistan,” making his case that many people are falsely claiming that al Qaeda has a large foothold in Afghanistan. He claims there are only about 100 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.
One of them did, though. Najibullah Zazi is a citizen of Afghanistan who received his training in Pakistan before coming to the US to conduct terror attacks, presumably in the subways of New York City. The entire idea of our mission in the Af-Pak theater is to keep al-Qaeda and the Taliban from having enough time and resources to launch more of these attacks.
Besides, even without the Zazi conspiracy, we have the example of 9/11, plotted and directed by Osama bin Laden while sheltered by the Taliban. The reason we don’t have more of these plots coming from Afghanistan is because we kicked the Taliban and al-Qaeda from their seat of power in Afghanistan. A retreat from that theater would allow both to return to power in Afghanistan, and we would once again be forced to play defense against AQ and hope that we could catch every plot launched against us before it came to fruition.
The Hill only counts three plots made public in the last few weeks — Zazi, a Jordanian indicted in Dallas for plotting to bomb a skyscraper, and two Americans and a Kosovar who wanted to attack the Marines in Quantico. Did Webb overstate the number of plots, or are there more that haven’t yet been reported?
Update: Here’s the fourth, so Webb’s in the right ballpark:
An Illinois man has been arrested in a plot to bomb a courthouse in Spring field according top an FBI press release. Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey B. Lang of the Central District of Illinois and Karen E. Spangenberg, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Springfield Division, today announced that Michael C. Finton, aka., “Talib Islam,” has been arrested on charges of attempted murder of federal employees and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at the federal building in Springfield, Ill.
Thanks to HA reader Gary for the reference.