On March 29, two nearly simultaneous suicide bombings targeting Moscow’s subway system killed dozens and injured many others. Officials believe that 17-year-old Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, who carried out one of the attacks, was seeking revenge for her husband’s death. An Islamist separatist, Umalat Magomedov died fighting the Russians.
The black widows’ bombs reverberated here in the United States. New York immediately beefed up its subway security. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CN) warned all Americans to be extra-vigilant on buses and trains. “These are targets, and we know that,” he declared.
However, the American response to the Moscow bombings misses the real terrorist threat to the United States. Yes, separatist movements in Russia espouse Islamist dogma, but the United States and Russia have little common cause in the long war on terror.
U.S. intelligence should prioritize and focus on America’s most dangerous enemies. Here is a list of the groups posing the most immediate threat to the United States:
1. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: This Yemen-based group is responsible for the attempted Christmas Day bombing. Some intelligence operatives suspect al Qaeda would like to build up a stronger presence in Yemen, both for operational attacks on Western targets and as an alternative base if Pakistan has to be abandoned.
2. Al-Shabaab: Government intelligence officials have found unambiguous links between al Qaeda and this Somali group, which has been actively recruiting among the Somali Diaspora in the U.S. Last year, one of those recruits took part in the suicide bombing of an African Union peacekeeping base in Mogadishu.
3. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT): This Pakistani organization carried out the horrific shootings in Mumbai, India, in 2008. It has evolved from being a terrorist group active primarily in Kashmir’s separatist movement into a transnational force with a pan-Islamist agenda. While LeT originally targeted Indian security forces, it now targets civilians and boasts a wide international network, including connections to al Qaeda and a global criminal syndicate run by Dawood Ibrahim, known as the D-Company.
4. Hamas and Hezbollah: Both Iranian-backed groups have global reach, including networks throughout Latin America that offer a backdoor into the United States. As the world’s No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism, Iran routinely uses terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy. Reports that Iran has aided al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan show that it could order Hamas and Hezbollah to take on the U.S.
While all of these threats can be beaten, they will all become more dangerous if we ignore them or allow our security assets to become distracted and diffused by vaporous threats to the homeland, such as the black widows.