In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass bluntly stated, "Al Qaeda does not require Afghan real estate to constitute a regional or global threat." Mr. Arkedis states bluntly that Mr. Haass is dead WRONG!!
- e-mail accounts, chat rooms, and social media will never account for the human touch. As the 9/11 plot developed, mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) put the future operatives through a series of intensive training courses along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Courses included physical fitness, firearms, close combat, Western culture, and English language. KSM wanted his operatives to be proficient under intense pressure. These tactics cannot be taught through “distance learning”.
- Critics argue that the Madrid and London bombings were conceived remotely within their respective countries, thus negating the need for a safe haven. However, unlike 9/11 those plots' successes were possible due to their simple concept and small scale. Building those explosive devices was akin to conducting a difficult high-school chemistry experiment. In contrast, 9/11 was like constructing a nuclear warhead. It involved 20 highly skilled operatives infiltrating the U.S. homeland, who conducted a series of hijackings and targeted four national landmarks with enough know-how, preparation, and contingency plans to be success. KSM taught the 9/11 operatives to shoot a rifle from the back of a moving motorcycle; you can't do that in someone's bedroom.
- The final argument is that denying Al Qaeda a safe haven is an exercise in futility. i.e., drive Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan and he'd relocate to some place like Sudan, southern Algeria, Somalia, or some other ungoverned territory. This logic makes two faulty assumptions: (a) that Al Qaeda is mobile and (b) that the group's international affiliates would automatically roll out the red carpet for the jihadi refugees. Neither is true. Bin Laden and his senior and mid level cadre are well-known to intelligence services the world over. Any attempt to travel, let alone cross an international border (save Afghanistan-Pakistan) would fall somewhere between "utterly unthinkable" and "highly risky."