Latest posts by J.D. Gordon (see all)
- Op-Ed: Can North Korea Launch Pearl Harbor II? - February 21, 2017
- Op-ed: “Cyberattack may be the next 9/11” - September 13, 2016
- Op-Ed: As Cyber Warfare Spreads, Bureaucrats May Refuse NextGen GPS That Prevents Hacking - March 3, 2016
In December 1944, as Germany re-captured a large swath of Belgium, Luxemburg and France in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge, could anyone ever imagine FDR releasing Nazi SS troopers to appease Adolf Hitler?
Yet 70 years later, that is basically what President Barack Obama is doing with respect to Iraq and Al Qaeda. Though unlike the teetering Nazi regime of late 1944, Al Qaeda seems far from finished.
Seems that the president’s campaign boast in October 2012, “Al Qaeda is on the road to defeat, and Usama Bin Laden is dead” was pre-mature, if not deliberately misleading.
Reinvigorated by the Shia-Sunni total war in next door Syria that’s already claimed 130,000 lives in under three years, Al Qaeda has roared back into Iraq with a vengeance, capturing Fallujah in the heart of the “wild-west” Al Anbar Province.
Sadly, nearly one-third of the 4,474 U.S. combat deaths in Iraq resulted from the prolonged fight to wrest Fallujah and Al-Anbar Province out of Al Qaeda’s control. Today’s power vacuum left by Mr. Obama’s complete withdrawal of our troops by December 2011 has allowed the terror network to triumphantly reclaim the city just two years later.
So Americans should rightly ask the question, “did over 1,300 Soldiers and Marines die in vain to protect Fallujah?”
If that’s not bad enough, Mr. Obama and his top advisors have matched the disastrous turn of events in Iraq by ironically helping Al Qaeda “and affiliates” get stronger.
Overcoming a two-year lull marked by Republican efforts in Congress to keep detainees locked up where they belong, the White House has just released 11 dangerous enemy combatants in the past several months, including Al Qaeda veterans of Afghanistan.
Men like Said Muhammad Husyan Qahtani, an Al Qaeda front line fighter who served in Bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade, which fought U.S. and coalition troops in Tora Bora and other hot spots. Qahtani’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo file notes, “detainee volunteered for a martyrdom mission and was identified by Al Qaida senior commanders to be a suicide bomber.”
Apart from Qahtani, others who left recently include radical Islamic militants from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan and China’s separatist Xinjiang Province, better known as “East Turkistan” by the ethnic Uighurs who were captured alongside Al Qaeda fighters in Pakistan in 2001.
These 11 are just the first wave of Gitmo detainees to be released during this latest Oval Office offensive to close the detention facilities. In a compromise deal forced by Republicans to keep Al Qaeda and Taliban-linked terrorists out of the mainland U.S., and potentially freed into American communities by activist judges, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 loosened restrictions on transferring nearly 80 more overseas.
These so-called “cleared” detainees, determined eligible for release in 2009-2010 by an Obama administration interagency review board, are roughly half the current 155 detainees. They sure didn’t get picked up for goat herding, and include former Bin Laden bodyguards, terrorist recruiters and financiers, bomb makers, and other militants determined to kill Americans.
U.S. intelligence authorities have stated in recent times that nearly one-third of those released from Guantanamo, or about 200 enemy combatants, have returned to terrorism.
Some made quite a name for themselves. Saudi Arabia’s Said Al-Shihri became Al Qaeda’s #2 leader in the Arabian Peninsula. Libya’s Sufian Bin Qumu was reportedly on the ground in Benghazi on the night of the U.S. Consulate attack, and trained Libyan fighters in the campaign to overthrow Col. Muammar Qaddafi.
Afghanistan’s Abdullah Gulam Rasoul became the Taliban’s operational commander in and around Kandahar. Pakistan’s Abdullah Mehsud directed a suicide attack on his nation’s Minister of the Interior. Kuwait’s Abdallah Saleh Al Ajmi killed 13 in Mosul, Iraq as a suicide bomber.
Though it defies logic, Mr. Obama is still fighting to release to more. The president claims we should “restore our values” and live by the “rule of law.” Yet he casually dismisses the fact that we’re at war with an extremely dangerous, shadowy, religious supremacist enemy that doesn’t play by the rules, is targeting Americans worldwide, and would kill millions of us if they could.
It’s not complicated. Freeing more Al Qaeda, “and affiliates” to be precise enough for the New York Times, will result in more Americans being killed.
Americans must to start demand greater accountability from Mr. Obama and Congress for our safety. It’s time for the White House to stop putting politics above national security.
J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander and former Pentagon spokesman who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-2009. He is a Senior Adviser to several think tanks in Washington, DC.