Thursday, April 25, 2013

Two-Edged Scimitar

I will say that the Obama administration has proven quite willing to use drones and special forces to kill jihadi terrorists. Our ability to kill bad guys is having an interesting effect on the bad guys--they're scared of us and scared of their own fanboys.

I may have qualms with the lack of intelligence by refusing to catch and hold terrorists; and I may be horrified that the administration is trying to conduct drone strikes within a domestic law enforcement template (that erodes our domestic law enforcement civil liberties), but killing jihadis is not a problem for President Obama.

Our success across two administrations in killing jihadi leaders is scaring jihadi leaders who probably have the "German glance" by now. The Boston Marathon bombing highlighted this issue:

One of the curious after-effects of the April 15th terrorist bombing in the United States (Boston) was the number of terrorist organizations that announced that they had nothing to do with it. These disclaimers were done out of fear, because the American tactics of using powerful intelligence collecting and analyzing tools with the ability to then attack specific terrorists with a laser-guided missile has made the terrorist leadership very afraid. This is not just paranoia but recognition of the growing list of terrorist leaders killed in this way. The manner in which the U.S. pursued and eventually got Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein has been noticed. All this literally terrorizes those leaders who are still out there.

This is interesting. One, I have to give credit to President Obama for continuing the targeting of our enemies. Osama bin Laden's killing (with a bonus ignominious end with the dumping of his carcass at sea--in full accordance with Islamic traditions, naturally) followed the killing of Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein's evil spawn sons, and Saddam himself after a trial by his former victims in Iraq during the Bush administration. And accelerated drone strikes have created many holes in the corporate table of organization in Jihad World.

So nobody in the jihadi ecosystem is jumping up to claim the Boston bombers as their own? When they struck the Great Satan itself? Say what you will about the Obama administration, but the jihadis fear even a president who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia and has the missle name "Hussein." Give the man full credit for this. I've worried that our failure to strike the jihadis who hit us in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 would erode fear of America, but apparently that isn't a problem.

This is interesting in another fashion. We worry that our success in frustrating the grander plans of al Qaeda for bigger body counts in spectacular plans will lead to jihadis taking on smaller jobs such as the Boston attacks, or even simpler forms of attack. This could be true.

But the failure of anybody in the jihad to take even a small bit of credit for the Boston bombers shows a weakness in the idea that self-radicalized jihadis can carry on the war: jihadi leaders can wake up any day to find that somebody they once chatted with for a few minutes in a Karachi espresso shop about the evil United States might be implicated in some small-scale attack on an American city.

And then the drones might be looking for that jihadi leader just a little more intensely--which might create a job opening for some up-and-coming young jihadi.

If we play our cards right and seek out (and kill or capture) any jihadi connected to the Boston bombers, we might actually compel jihadi leaders to restrain some of these self-radicalized jihadis before they attack. How many jihadi leaders with delusions of living up to the memory of Osama want to head off to Paradise after being connected to some local dimwit who kills one American and wounds seven in an attack on a women's underwear store? Is that worth dying for in a drone strike? Is it worth the indignity of hitting the deck every time you hear a lanw mower engine in the distance?