Today is the seven year anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. The Bush administration is entering its final months, and a new president will inherit two wars and face an evolving terrorist threat.
On this day, I cannot help but reflect on a forgotten moment during the Republican National Convention. A statement made by first lady Laura Bush in the midst of the euphoria over the selection of Sarah Palin to be McCain's VP on the Republican ticket. "Let's not forget," she said at the opening of the RNC, "President Bush has kept the American people safe."
Are we safer today?
The answer is no. The threat from al-Qaeda, its franchises, and its wannabes, is more real than ever. Seven years have passed since 9-11, but there is still no real effective way to combat terrorism. Al-Qaeda, which appeared to be in disarray four years ago and its capabilities dramatically diminished, has grown stronger once again in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan. It has also successfully expanded its reach throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It exists in places it never has been in before like Iraq, Algeria and Somalia. Bush's War on Terror has failed. It has failed not because of the lack of resources or effort but rather because of the method and approach.
Why did the U.S. invade Iraq? Al-Qaeda never constituted the real reason for the invasion, and once and for all America has to face up to the truth about this debacle, stop celebrating the "surge" in Iraq, and devote more resources to the real war: the war that has been lost for seven years in Afghanistan.
Is al-Qaeda's threat real?
It is very important to remember that the attacks of 9-11 succeeded because the U.S. failed to counter al-Qaeda in 1993, when its war against the U.S. really began with an attempt to blow up the Twin Towers with a truck bomb in its garage. Al-Qaeda also bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, as well as the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000. Therefore, it took eight years before it was able to deliver its most devastating blow in 2001. Seven years after 9-11, al-Qaeda is stronger, more spread out, and more elusive. Why has it taken the Bush Administration so long to finally consider shifting some of the U.S. troops from Iraq into Afghanistan?
Still in Denial
Meanwhile, even after seven years, many people do not believe that al-Qaeda was behind the 9-11 attacks. An independent U.S.-based group called World Public Opinion.org asked 16,000 people in 17 countries who they thought was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. An average of only 46 percent of the people polled in each country blames al-Qaeda for the attacks. Fifteen percent still say the U.S. government plotted the attacks despite that "even bin Laden has publicly made statements affirming that al-Qaeda was behind the September 11th attacks," according to World Public Opinion.org's director, Steven Kull.
For its part, Al-Qaeda is planning to release a video message within 24 hours to mark the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11. The terrorist network's media production unit as-Sahab published banners on the Internet earlier this week flagging the release, with a graphic saying ``Wait 11 September,'' The banner showed a silhouette of a face with a question mark over it. Will it be bin Laden once again reassuring everyone that he is still alive?
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV