Terrorism is alive and well. In fact, it is thriving.
Across the world, CNN reports, al Qaeda is not on the run, as our president said. It is expanding its ability to carry out operations. Benghazi was part of it, but not the only part.
According to CNN:
As terrorism increasingly becomes a tactic of warfare, the number of attacks and fatalities soared to a record high in 2012, according to a new report obtained exclusively by CNN.
More than 8,500 terrorist attacks killed nearly 15,500 people last year as violence tore through Africa, Asia and the Middle East, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
That’s a 69% rise in attacks and an 89% jump in fatalities from 2011, said START, one of the world’s leading terrorism-trackers.
Six of the seven most deadly groups are affiliated with al Qaeda, according to START, and most of the violence was committed in Muslim-majority countries.
The previous record for attacks was set in 2011 with more than 5,000 incidents; for fatalities the previous high was 2007 with more than 12,800 deaths.
Funded by the Department of Homeland Security, the study was performed at the University of Maryland.
Among its observations:
Gone are the days when terrorist groups like the Irish Republican Army or Italy’s Red Brigade would try to keep casualties low by issuing warnings, LaFree said.
“If you’re a terrorist group now and you want to get your message out,” he said, “the more people you kill, the more ‘successful’ you’ll be.”
Sectarian attacks - such as the pitched battles between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan - tend to be disproportionately deadly, said Martha Crenshaw, an expert at Stanford University and a START board member.
“Sadly, it seems to be increasingly acceptable in certain belief systems to kill as many members of the other religious community as possible,” she said. “Moral restraints seem to be eroding.”
Surely, it would be unfair to pin this all on the Obama administration. There is little the administration can do to combat the terrorism in Nigeria, for example.
On the other hand, the administration has pursued a policy of disengagement in Iraq and a policy of pending disengagement in Afghanistan. These two countries are suffering an extraordinary number of terrorist attacks.
The administration’s actions before, during and after the attack on our Benghazi compound two years ago could not have served to deter al Qaeda. In fact, as Lara Logan reported (see last post) al Qaeda is alive and well in Libya today.
Of course, the administration is defensive:
Rhonda Shore, a spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism, said she hadn't seen START's latest numbers and couldn't comment on the report. But she offered a staunch defense of the Obama administration’s approach to al Qaeda.
“We have made great progress in our efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the larger al Qaeda organization in recent years,” she said.
“However,” she said, al Qaeda and its affiliates “continue to present a serious threat to the United States and its interests, and we must remain vigilant as we consider the range of tools and actions available to disrupt this threat.”
In the START report shows great progress, I’d hate to see what failure would look like.