Dr. Walid Phares
Abdulmutallab's Act of War
January 6, 2010
In the Arab world there is a saying: "Take their truth from their crazies.” I
didn’t think it would fully apply in geopolitics until I heard Libya’s dictator,
Moammar Qadhafi, claiming on al Jazeera few years ago that Bin Laden had
acquired intercontinental missiles.
The "crazy boy,” as the late Egyptian President Sadat used to call him, argued
sarcastically that al Qaeda has developed an unstoppable weapon: human
transoceanic missiles. He meant by that Jihadists who were committed to
istishaad (martyrdom) by blowing up commercial jets over targets in America.
The man who has been ruling Libya for the past forty years knows his region very
well and despite his peculiar behavior, has predicted what most observers of the
Jihadist movement have also projected: al Qaeda and its allies worldwide have
discovered the Achilles heel of American defenses: the inability of its security
apparatus to identify the readying of the new weapon, its deployment and its
The situation is so bad, that a man who was on some "persons of interest” list
was nearly able to massacre hundreds of passengers and possibly innocent people
on the ground but for the failure of his underwear bomb and the courage of a
citizen of the Netherlands who rose to defend humanity with his bare hands.
A Nigerian young man, educated in Europe, with no antecedent (and visible)
involvement in "violent extremism” -- as defined by new US doctrines -- with a
family wealthy enough to extract him from disenfranchisement and other so-called
roots of radicalization, burned parts of his body as he was leaping into the
"heaven of virgins.” Had he succeeded he would have accomplished a considerable
feat: the second bloodiest terror act within US borders, pushing back the Fort
Hood jihad to third position after 9/11.
The rapidly unfolding incident, a sheer and clear act of war, shocked and awed
the American public to the core. Nine years after Mohammad Atta led an al Qaeda
platoon into a genocidal attack against this country, Omar Farouq Abdulmutallab,
an obscure person with no dramatic history brought hundreds of men, women and
children to the edge of existence before they were bounced back to the world of
the living, thanks to the instincts of ordinary individuals. How can that be
possible after billions of dollars spent until now on homeland security, two
overseas wars waged by the previous administration to end the terrorist threat?
Abdulmutallab’s act contrasts poorly with the Obama administration’s pledge to
shut down Guantanamo by this administration in order to calm down "extremism” in
addition to all the president’s speeches announcing retreats. If closing
Guantanamo and ignoring democracy movements doesn’t satisfy the jihadists, what
will? Why do they keep coming to kill more people?
The "Mujahid from Nigeria,” as described by al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen is the
perpetrator of the 13th terrorist act on US soil in one single year. From the
Arkansas murder of a US military, to the jihadists of North Carolina, New York,
Illinois, Texas, all the way to Fort Hood, these are the precursors of a wider
wave to slam our shores unavoidably.
Abdulmutallab, like all other suicide-to-be perpetrators is a human missile
designed, programmed and set off by a jihadist war machine. Ironically, the
responses uttered by US officials only deepen the conviction within the jihadi
war rooms that we are trailing behind in understanding their threat.
When Major Hasan killed thirteen colleagues, the nation was urged "not to rush
to judgment.” Days later, emails surfaced about links to Imam Awlaki, the bête
noire of Yemen. In the wake of Abdulmutallab’s arrest we were told "there were
no credible links to al Qaeda” just before a bold statement by the organization
claimed the operation against the "American enemy.” By now, after the most
active year in terrorism targeting the US since 2001, it would be advisable not
to rush to judgment, but the other way around.
Do not claim that massacres -- those that happen and those that are stopped --
are inexplicable during a war with the jihadists. In World War II, every Nazi
bomber that flew over Britain was an act of war. In this conflict, every jihadi-inspired
attack is an act of warfare. Every rush to deny it and it treat it as a mere act
of violence is a challenge to our national security, and eventually a threat to