The most recent terrorist attempt to attack New York on Saturday has got me thinking in the last few days, especially if it turns out to be true that the would-be-car bomber may have been acting in reaction to American drone strikes in Pakistan.
This just reinforces for me how serious our lack of strategic outlook is, and the fact that we need to seriously rethink our approach to terrorism, as it impacts not only our actions but also our interactions with countries around the world.
In that vein, I’d like to point you in the direction of a piece published today in The Atlantic by New America research associate (and sometime TWN blogger) Andrew Lebovich, on Morocco’s disruption of an “al Qaeda-linked” cell last week. Two key paragraphs:
Reports last week that Moroccan security forces arrested 24 members of an “al Qaeda-linked cell” and were looking for another in France, for example, have raised concerns in Western media of an expanded al Qaeda threat in North Africa. But what do we really know about the case? As with many such regimes, the opaque nature of Morocco’s government, especially concerning issues of terrorism, makes independent confirmation of official statements on the incident difficult. At the same time, the international and regional context of the arrests suggest the possibility that – whether or not the charges are true – Morocco’s government may be invested in using the threat of terrorism for political and economic gain.
…For everything that’s particular to Morocco, distinguishing the real threat of organized terrorism from the projections of interested governments is increasingly a global problem. Russia, for example, has used the language of the Global War on Terror to justify its brutal tactics in Chechnya, where Chechen terrorists are just one part of the complicated conflict. In more recent months, Yemen’s government tried to link Huthi rebels, which challenged the state’s hold in the North, alternately to al Qaeda and Iran. The challenge for us in the West is to be able to live with the threat of organized terrorism without assuming its involvement in any given act of anti-state violence – and without blindly accepting, when we look to other governments’ responses, that their fights are the same as ours.
— Steve Clemons