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Obama Sending Mixed Messages in Counterterrorism Strategy

Obama has been sending out the word that al Qaeda is “near collapse.” This narrative justifies a new counterterrorism strategy that the White House put out last month (19 pages of “blah-blah”). Basically, the president wants to drop everything in the War on Terror except hunting down the last of the high level al Qaeda operatives.

At the same time, however, the State Department has issued a world-wide travel alert to “update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security recently raised the concern of “insider” al Qeada threats in the US. Then yesterday in a hearing on the Hill, government officials revealed that al Shabaab recruiting in the US has been more vigorous than previously reported and that the group is working to link up with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In particular, Washington needs to take the al Shabaab threat seriously. They have not tried anything here–yet. Two years ago, I warned:  “Stopping any Al-Shabaab operation here will require solid counterterrorism operations and non-stop intelligence sharing.”  We are also going to have to be much more effective operating on the ground in Somalia and Yemen.

All these demands and revelations seem at odds with the latest line from the White House.