by the Editorial Board of the New York Post
When he campaigned for re-election two years ago, President Obama repeatedly reassured us al Qaeda had been “decimated” and “is on the path to defeat” — even after the attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador.
But we’ve just had two new reports demonstrating that not only has al Qaeda not been defeated, it’s stronger than ever.
The first, from The New York Times, reports that European governments have paid al Qaeda and its affiliates at least $125 million since 2008. The money was funneled through proxies or disguised as humanitarian aid, and it was used to ransom kidnapped citizens from terrorists.
The Times goes on to say that $66 million of this came in the last year alone. It quotes one al Qaeda leader describing the dirty business this way: “Kidnapping hostages is an easy spoil, which I may describe as a profitable trade and precious stream.”
A US Treasury official adds that ransom payments have now become “the most significant source” for terrorists. In other words, European governments are funding al Qaeda terror.
Meanwhile, the outgoing head of our Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, basically confirmed to a forum in Aspen that President Obama’s constant talk about “core al Qaeda” is a distinction that has more to do with political convenience than terrorist reality.
“We throw this phrase ‘core al Qaeda’ out,” said Lt. Gen. Flynn, “but rather than people, ‘core al Qaeda’ is an ideology . . . The core is the core belief that these individuals have — and it’s not on the run.”
To the contrary, it’s exponentially growing, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has declared a caliphate in northern Iraq and parts of Syria, to Boko Haram in Nigeria, which still holds hundreds of those kidnapped girls, to the al Qaeda-linked outfits fighting in Syria’s bloody civil war.
George W. Bush’s critics excoriated him for declaring a “War on Terror” they said was far too broad and took our eyes off the real threats, what they called core al Qaeda. Sadly, Gen. Flynn’s comments about the growth of its affiliates — and the increasing ransoms paid out by European governments — say otherwise.
By combating an organization instead of the ideology that motivates it, the United States has only strengthened both. The message for President Obama? He’s never going to defeat the enemy so long as he and his administration refuse to acknowledge its true nature.