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Terrorism

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Let’s not make the same mistake here
The recent series of terrorist incidents in Europe has produced the inevitable finger pointing regarding the ability of the security services to respond and has also reopened the debate over what might be done to prevent the attacks in the first place. Similar discussions have been going on in the United States for some time,... Read More
Trump’s order is a mess, but until a broken immigration system is fixed, he’s more right than wrong
How many Iranian terrorists have staged attacks in the United States? How many Sudanese? Or Iraqis or Syrians? Or Yemenis? Or Libyans? They are, of course, trick questions as the answer is none. Pakistanis, yes, central Asians, yes, a Somali, a couple of Egyptians and lots and lots of Saudi Arabians. Somalia is on the... Read More
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Anyway you look at it, it's a failure
The twenty-first century, at least up until this point, might well be described as the age of the terrorist. Even though most Americans and Europeans rank terrorism as low among their concerns, the repercussions when a terrorist attack does take place are greatly magnified by the sheer horror associated with the mass killing of innocent... Read More
Relations between Ankara and Moscow will likely continue to improve, despite the assassination of a Russian diplomat
Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov has been shot dead in Ankara by an assailant who was subsequently killed by police. Sources who were present at the scene report that the attacker, dressed in a suit and brandishing a handgun, shouted in Arabic “Allahu Akhbar” followed by screams in Turkish, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget... Read More
It doesn't usually achieve its objectives—and the perpetrators know it
There might well be thousands of books on terrorism, which means that it is extremely difficult to imagine something new. But Richard English’s Does Terrorism Work? A History, due to be released next month, differs from most discussions of the terror phenomenon. English is not a former intelligence officer or national-security official, nor a self-styled... Read More
Trump and Clinton promise to defeat terrorism. But it's very difficult to stop a motivated mass murderer
Once upon a time the big threat to civilization was al-Qaeda. But today it is ISIS, alternatively known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh. Transcending their existence as actual physical entities, the names or acronyms have become metaphors for terrorist attacks, striking fear in the hearts of the people and enabling the political class... Read More
The Orlando shooting was a horrific crime. But larger trends suggest that the threat of mass attacks is receding
The State Department’s 2015 Country Reports on Terrorism came out earlier this month. It will no doubt be overshadowed by events, as it deals with overseas rather than domestic terror and appeared ten days before the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. But it helps to explain the roots of America’s terrorism problem. The document... Read More
The foreign-policy establishment marks 15 years of failure in the War on Terror
It’s been almost a decade and a half since 9/11, but the foreign-policy establishment still cannot admit that continuous American intervention in the Middle East has been a failure. I recently attended a conference entitled “Hindsight: Reflections on 15 Years of the War on Terror.” With a wide range of highly respectable speakers, I naively... Read More
It is widely understood that a number of federal government agencies monitor and even seek to infiltrate jihadist websites. But a program initiated in 2009 to debate the visitors to extremist Islamic sites has yet to find a comfortable organizational niche. The so-called “counterpropaganda” effort against the terrorist Internet is run out of the White... Read More
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While Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who is currently advising presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, famously said that the estimated 500,000 children who died as a result of U.S. sanctions on Iraq was “worth it.” It was, perhaps, a rare moment of candor from a politician, an admission that Washington is willing to support ostensibly non-lethal... Read More
Heavy-handed tactics don't stop terrorism. Good policing and public trials do
The horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last week quickly produced demands for stronger steps to be taken against Europe’s own domestic Islamic militants. At least some of the terrorists were indeed French citizens and the massacre of 129 innocent civilians will undoubtedly also generate new calls in the U.S. Congress to do something about the... Read More
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And demonizing Russia at the same time
A short-lived story appeared in the mainstream media two weeks ago describing how the United States government is working hard to keep everyone safe. The Associated Press (AP) original coverage was headlined “Smugglers busted trying to sell nuclear material to ISIS.” The Boston Herald’s version of the AP story reported it as “Nuclear Material Sellers... Read More
States craft terror definitions and designations to absolve themselves and satisfy their constituencies
The Washington Post reports that “terrorism trend lines are ‘worse than at any other point in history.’” But what is terrorism? It has frequently been pointed out that “terrorism” is a tactic, not an actual physical adversary, but it is less often noted that a simple definition of what constitutes terrorism is hardly universally accepted,... Read More
The drive to "do something" pushes the NSC and FBI to take extreme responses to Charlie Hebdo
It was said of the French Revolution that it ended up devouring its own children. Something similar is occurring within the United States national-security establishment, as extreme responses surface in the wake of the Charlie Hebdomassacre in Paris. In the National Security Council (NSC) there has been serious consideration of “temporarily” eliminating visa waivers for... Read More
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But the Xenophobes Have a Point
There are two things that I really dislike about Islam. How can anyone forbid drinking a nice bottle of wine and consider dogs to be unclean? But, on the other hand, in practice I know quite a few Muslims whom I consider friends who drink alcohol and who have owned and loved dogs, so as... Read More
Telling friends from enemies in Iraq and Syria is largely a matter of guesswork
The White House strategy to “destroy” ISIS, the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, depends in part on a vague plan to support moderate elements in the opposition to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, presumably to serve as boots on the ground to complete the job started through aerial attacks provided by U.S.-led coalition forces.... Read More
What happens to agents and informants when they can't go home
It has been said that retired American spies frequently end up in some rural location that cannot be found on any map, where they can grow orchids or breed Labrador retrievers in peace. Their British counterparts often settle down to write thrillers with plots so involved and characters so conflicted that only a completely masochistic... Read More
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When President George W. Bush launched his global war on terror, which was quickly adopted by the media through its acronym GWOT, the American public rallied around a new Crusade to rid the world of Islamic terrorism even as the president kept reminding anyone who would listen that Islam is a religion of peace. Initially... Read More
Seemingly authorized leaks have done far more damage than Snowden's revelations.
An intriguing story floated under the radar in the New York Times last week, relating to the alleged al-Qaeda plot to carry out major attacks in Yemen back in August, which led to the closure of 19 American diplomatic facilities. I describe the plot as alleged because there were a number of inconsistencies in the... Read More
Even the threat of terror attacks was enough to shut down U.S. embassies---and reveal a fearful Washington.
Terrorism is essentially a force multiplier, enabling a weaker insurgent to exhaust much stronger government forces hamstrung by needing to provide comprehensive security for a civilian population against an elusive enemy capable of striking anywhere. The terrorists know they cannot win on the battlefield so they instead seek to make the conflict so expensive and... Read More
John Brennan knows there's more to intelligence than drones.
We have lately witnessed two cabinet-level confirmation hearings by the Senate in which little or nothing was asked that actually might enlighten us as to how the State and Defense Departments might be transformed over the next four years. John Kerry was tossed softballs, while Chuck Hagel was hammered over his reported detachment from Israel... Read More
The New York Police Department (NYPD) Counter-Terrorism Division operates a controversial International Liaison Program (ILP) that places officers overseas, in at least 11 cities. None of the NYPD liaison officers has any legal standing for dealing with the local authorities. The detectives travel on tourist passports, stay in hotels, and do not report to the... Read More
Europe's turmoil spurs a resurgence of leftist terrorist groups
The economic convulsions shaking Europe might produce an additional unfortunate result: the revival of good old-fashioned leftist-inspired terrorism. Terrorism has been largely seen through the prism of Islam over the past twenty years even though terrorists who are not Muslims have been active in a number of countries, most notably India and Sri Lanka. It... Read More
The Obama Administration is clearly developing a taste for executing American citizens in an extrajudicial fashion and hardly a peep is coming out of the mainstream media. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, himself executed by drone on September 30th, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen on October 14th, reportedly while having... Read More
Do you remember traveling with your young children and urging them to "hold it" for a while in order to delay all too frequent bathroom stops? Well, travel by air now has its own version of that. I confess to having mixed feelings, but mostly negative, about yesterday’s report of two airliners being shadowed by... Read More
It has not been a good week. To be sure, Bibi is finally gone but the Patriot Act has been renewed without any debate through political chicanery by Harry Reid. And there is considerable danger that the “overseas contingency operations,” as the Obama Administration refers to its war on terror, will increase in number after... Read More
The terrorist attack on Congresswoman Giffords and her entourage raises some interesting questions of culpability since the laws governing terrorism have been made so elastic that almost anyone can be charged for almost anything. Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al Bahlul, a citizen of Yemen currently held in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, was... Read More
If CIA Director Leon Panetta is correct and al-Qaeda has been reduced to a tiny remnant http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100627/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_us_afghanistan why are we spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on defense, intelligence, and homeland security? The justification for the doubling of the US government budget over the past eight years has been the need to fight terrorism.... Read More
It was the first time I've actually watched an Obama speech all the way through. I think it was short on content, overwhelmingly a political speech in that he was responding to Republican pressure about the Democratic wimp factor. He surely has to know that terrorism is not any kind of serious threat against the... Read More
Senator Joe Lieberman, head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, is calling for hearings on whether the army should have picked up on signs that Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan had become dangerously unhinged before he went on his rampage. For once I agree with Lieberman, but the good senator goes on to describe the... Read More
As an ex-Jersey Boy I sometimes get a fix by perusing the Garden State media. Today's Star-Ledger is reporting a conference taking place at a hotel in Jersey City dealing with Homeland Security, most particularly the cybersecurity threat. I'm not too sure about the "threat" and what cybersecurity might mean. There are definitely a lot... Read More
Can terrorists get into Harvard?; Admitting Retreat; Karen of Arabia
Warren Bamford, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Boston, has warned local universities to be on the alert for spies and potential terrorists who might be trying to steal sensitive research information. Bamford’s office has met with representatives of the major universities in the Boston area, including Harvard, MIT, University... Read More
A special group at the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center, very similar to the group that tracked the activity of al-Qaeda through the 1990s, has been working on the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah over the past three years. In the wake of the failed Israeli incursion into Lebanon last summer, the White House asked these Hezbollah... Read More
A reshaped Al-Qaeda is more dangerous than before.
America’s war against terrorism is a conflict unlike any other in history. Amorphous and multi-faceted, it spans the globe and engages United States resources on battlefields where victory can never be declared. It is above all an intelligence war, in which detailed information on opponents, their travels, and plans are equivalent to the movement of... Read More
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Philip Giraldi
About Philip Giraldi

Phil Giraldi is a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. In addition to TAC, where he has been a contributing editor for nine years, he writes regularly for Antiwar.com. He is currently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest and resides with his wife of 32 years in Virginia horse country close to his daughters and grandchildren.


Personal Classics
A Modern Guernica Enabled by Washington
Pressuring Candidates Even Before They Are Nominated
But is it even a friend?
The gagged whistleblower goes on the record.
Today’s CIA serves contractors and bureaucrats—not the nation.
Pay no mind to the Mossad agent on the line.