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Obama’s Dangerous Fantasy of Al-Qaeda Defeated

When he met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington last Friday, Barack Obama said this about the war in Afghanistan: “We achieved our central goal ... or have come very close to achieving our central goal, which is to de-capacitate al-Qaeda, to dismantle them, to make sure that they can’t attack us again.”

He said this four days after a Muslim imam who was a soldier in the Afghan National Army opened fire on a group of his British “allies,” murdering one of them and wounding six. The Taliban, al-Qaeda’s partner in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack, which was yet another in an ever-lengthening string of “insider” attacks by Afghan forces against those who are putting themselves at risk to train and assist them. The BBC reports that “in 2012, more than 60 Nato service personnel, and a quarter of the British troops who died in Helmand, were killed in such attacks.”

The Taliban is not al-Qaeda, although the distinction on the ground in Afghanistan may be exceedingly fine, too fine to be discerned by the average NATO soldier when the Afghan he is trying to teach how to be a military man turns the gun he has just given him on his benefactor. In any case, the appalling fact that “a quarter of the British troops who died in Helmand” perished in such attacks indicates that the enemy in Afghanistan is far from being either “de-capacitated” or dismantled, and still has the ability to attack us.

Nonetheless, Obama officials keep doing the victory dance over an al-Qaeda that they repeatedly imply is on the verge of extinction. Jeh Johnson, general counsel at the Defense Department, recently said that “military pursuit of al-Qaida” should end soon. His reasoning was apparently that al-Qaeda is now so severely damaged that we will soon reach a “tipping point” after which military action against them will no longer be necessary, and local police can handle it.

This astounding manifestation of an overconfidence of Baghdad Bob proportions, or else of a capitulation attempting to disguise itself as a victory, is bitterly ironic coming at a time when al-Qaeda is anything but on the ropes: in fact, it is “carving out its own state” in Mali, with so much success that last Friday the French launched airstrikes in hopes of stopping its advance and its consolidation of power in the vast areas it already controls.

Viewed alongside the Obama administration’s unstinting support for the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and support for jihadist rebels elsewhere, along with its active work to further the agenda of Islamic supremacist Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the U.S., this raises questions about whether Obama is preparing to abandon the last elements of any U.S. resistance to jihad in any form.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda is operating with apparent impunity in Libya, such that a key suspect in the Benghazi jihad massacre of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues is roaming free, with authorities too afraid to antagonize al-Qaeda elements by arresting him. A Libyan political analyst, Khaled al-Marmimi, noted that “investigators are afraid to keep probing the case because they are concerned extremists will kidnap them at any moment.”

In Kenya, al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab is using converts from Christianity to Islam to launch jihad attacks against churches.

And is al-Qaeda now incapable of attacking us here? Well, last week it was revealed during the trial of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the Bangladeshi Muslim accused of plotting a jihad attack against the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, that he was an avid follower of the late al-Qaeda imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who was connected to so many recent jihad plots and attacks on American soil, including Major Nidal Hasan’s Fort Hood jihad mass murder and the attempted airplane jihad mass murder of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas underwear bomber.

Was Nafis a member of al-Qaeda, or just a fan? It hardly matters; the fact that he eagerly imbibed al-Awlaki’s rage, hate, and bloodlust shows that the al-Qaeda ideology retains its appeal for at least some Muslims – indeed, one would be too many, but there are unfortunately many more than one.

All this does not in the least indicate that al-Qaeda is close to being completely “de-capacitated” and dismantled. Obama’s insistence that it is stems from his need to show that his foreign policy is working, but this is a strategy that could quite literally blow up in his face at any moment. Al-Qaeda is not down and not out, and anxious to prove it; whether American officials will be able to head them off will depend in large part on how seriously they take the commander-in-chief’s intimations that the end is near, the strife nearly over, the battle almost done.

Remember how the war was not against Islam, as both Bush and Obama have repeatedly insisted since 2001, but against al-Qaeda, as Obama has characterized it in increasingly narrow terms? Soon, apparently, the U.S. won’t even be fighting that. The problem is that al-Qaeda will keep on fighting us.