Jewish World Review March 7, 2003 / 3 Adar II, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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The fight against Saddam isn't a distraction from the war on terror --- it's is the main event | Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, thought to have been the mastermind of the 9/11 hijackings, was captured in a pre-dawn raid Saturday by agents of the Pakistani Interservice Intelligence organization (ISI) and the American FBI. Khalid has been under indictment in the United States since 1996 for his role in an aborted plan to hijack U.S. airliners in the Pacific.

Khalid's capture puts the lie to the notion that the focus of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on regime change in Iraq is a "distraction" from the war on terror. The pursuit of individual terrorists, and the neutralization of terror-supporting states can, must and is being pursued simultaneously.

Even before Khalid's capture, the United States and allies abroad have made significant progress in disrupting al Qaida and associated terror networks. An al-Qaida network in Europe has been rolled up. The leader of the vicious Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines has been killed. Abu Zubaida, then the number three man in al-Qaida, was captured in Pakistan last year. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, thought to have been the mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole, was killed in Yemen. Each week the number grows larger. Capturing Khalid may be a bigger step toward victory than even would be the capture of Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is the political head of al-Qaida. Khalid was its operations chief. Jefferson Davis is still at large. But we have Robert E. Lee in custody.

Many - including me - have criticized the president for not doing enough fast enough about homeland security. But we have not had a major terror attack here since Sept. 11. Doubtless, we've been lucky. The terrorists may be weaker than we thought, or may just be biding their time. But our security people must also be doing something right.

People who argue that war with Iraq would be a "distraction" from the war on terror are idiots, or think ordinary Americans are. The hunt for individual terrorists is chiefly an intelligence and law enforcement activity. Producing regime change in terror states is chiefly a military activity. There is little overlap between them.

Armored divisions and aircraft carriers and stealth bombers are swell things to have, but they were of little use in tracking down Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in the slums of Rawalpindi. The maximum overlap between the hunt for al-Qaida members and the pursuit of regime change in Iraq is probably about a battalion of Special Forces, who otherwise would be pursuing al-Qaida elsewhere in the Mideast, but who currently are focused on Iraq.

The redirection of that battalion is hardly wasted. There probably are more al-Qaida hiding out in the frontier regions of Pakistan than anywhere else in the world. But, as the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed indicates, it is getting hot for them there. After Pakistan, there are more al-Qaida in Iran and Iraq than anywhere else. The difference is that while the government in Pakistan is, at least fitfully, hunting them, the governments of Iran and Iraq are providing sanctuary.

Terror organizations like al-Qaida can exist without state support. But they cannot be very dangerous without it. Terrorists need money, forged documents, weapons and explosives, training and places to train. Hezbollah in Lebanon has about 10,000 122 mm Katyusha rockets. You can't buy these in a Wal Mart, or transport them without the assistance of a compliant government. Without state sponsors in Iraq, Iran and Syria, al-Qaida and Hezbollah would be little more dangerous than the Red Brigades were in Italy 20 years ago, than Aum Shinri kyo was in Japan a decade ago.

The coming battle with Iraq is Stalingrad for the terror chieftains. If they lose it, they're toast, and they know it.

If Saddam Hussein is ousted, the terrorists will lose arguably their number one state sponsor; land communication between Iran and Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon will be broken; Iran will be surrounded by secular, pro-Western Muslim states, and be ripe for regime change from within. Syria and Libya will become more nervous about sheltering terrorists.

The fight against Saddam isn't a distraction from the war on terror. It is the main event.

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03/04/03: Bioterror nightmare approaching --- how it could likely happen
02/27/03: Iranian student: Can America hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?
02/25/03: Yahoos on both the Left and the Right are trying to prevent government from maximizing technology in protecting us
02/20/03: Anti-war group gets it right about great humanitarian tragedy in last Gulf War
02/18/03: Iraqis: Why are these people marching for tyranny?
02/07/03: French kiss(ed)-off
02/05/03: Does the FBI have the ability to protect us from terrorists already here?
02/03/03: The "Axis of Weasels"
01/29/03: A bit of the jitters
01/27/03: The world's mediocre intelligence agency
01/21/03: By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
01/16/03: Why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can
01/14/03: Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
01/07/03: Another Korean war?
01/02/03: Ostriches
12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly