While Americans have been debating the meaning of Tuesday’s election, al Qaeda’s Ayman al Zawahiri has been weighing in with his own views on this landscape, including the burned and abandoned wreck of the U.S. diplomatic post struck not by a “spontaneous” mob, but — yes — terrorists, at least some of them al Qaeda-linked, in Benghazi. You can find a report on The Long War Journal, by my colleague, Thomas Joscelyn, in his article “Zawahiri says raids on diplomatic facilities were ‘defeats’ for the U.S.”
Unfortunately, Zawahiri’s claims here are far better in touch with reality than the president’s candied campaign lines about a receding tide of war, and al Qaeda in retreat.
Here’s an except from Joscelyn’s article, vital reading as America faces not only immense economic challenges at home, but deadly threats abroad. It begins with a quote from an audio broadcast by al Zawahiri, referring to the signs of American weakness:
“They were defeated in Iraq and they are withdrawing from Afghanistan, and their ambassador in Benghazi was killed and the flags of their embassies were lowered in Cairo and Sana’a, and in their places were raised the flags of tawhid [monotheism] and jihad,” Zawahiri says, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.
“After their consecutive defeats, they are working from behind agents and traitors,” Zawahiri continues. “Their awe is lost and their might is gone and they don’t dare to carry out a new campaign like their past ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Al Qaeda-linked extremists have been tied to the three assaults on US diplomatic facilities Zawahiri mentions.
It’s not clear here whether al Zawahiri made his comments before or after the election returns rolled in on Tuesday evening. But no matter — unless the current administration, now secure in a second term, now makes a profound change of course, and in doing so, levels with the American public about the extent of this threat. A good first step would be to come clean and crystal clear on what happened in Benghazi, what exactly the president did or did not know, and do, and how he might now propose to rally the American people, not to downplay and obscure this war at awful cost, but to win it.