Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush's relentless pursuit of terrorists is vindicated in Somalia

Taking the threat of terrorism too lightly isn't among President Bush's failures. Sending a gunship over Somalia to kill high ranking terrorists shows that this president is relentless in his drive to purue them to the ends of the earth.

This piece in The Telegraph notes the exhaustive efforts made by the Bush administration to track terrorists, train and equip friendly forces, and generally seek to keep the pressure on the bad guys:
When it comes to prosecuting the worldwide campaign against al-Qa'eda, whether it is in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan or the inhospitable desert terrain of Somalia, the most important virtue a commander can possess is patience.

Tracking an elusive enemy such as Osama bin Laden's terror organisation is no easy task. While al-Qa'eda's main priority is to carry out spectacular terror attacks such as the September 11 bombings or the 1998 deadly suicide bomb attacks against the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the organisation invests just as much effort in ensuring that its key operatives escape detection.

This would explain why, after five years of unstinting effort by the US-led military coalition across a truly global stage, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the main pillars of the al-Qa'eda leadership, remain at large, as do many of those responsible for many of the other atrocities that have been committed in the name of militant Islam, whether in Africa or London.

But just because the foe remains elusive does not mean that the pursuer should lose hope. In the ever-shifting battleground that is the global war on terror, rare moments of opportunity appear when the foe is suddenly forced to break cover and make a run for it. That is when the canny commander moves in for the kill, using his overwhelming military superiority to ensure the enemy has no means of escape. [...]

At the end of last year, it looked as if Somalia had every chance of going the same way as Afghanistan under the Taliban in the late 1990s, with a group of radical Muslim clerics threatening to overthrow the legitimate government, take over the entire country and subject it to a brutal interpretation of sharia law. [...]

The prospect of a radical, pro-al-Qa'eda, Islamic state being established in east Africa was the nightmare scenario that American commanders had sought to avoid ever since they established their 2,500-strong foothold in the Horn of Africa in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

But how to prevent this from happening was another matter entirely. The American military's consciousness still bears the scars of its last attempt at military intervention in Somalia, in October 1993, when 18 American soldiers were killed after a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down during a gun battle with Somali militiamen (bin Laden himself claimed credit for teaching the Somalis how to shoot down a helicopter).

On this occasion, however, American blushes have been spared by the impressive job that the Ethiopian armed forces – which are trained and equipped by Washington – have achieved in driving the Islamic Courts out of Mogadishu and restoring some semblance of stability to what is arguably the world's most lawless city.

Most Africans, like most Americans, are deeply inimical to the creation of pro-al-Qa'eda, Islamic fundamentalist regimes that pose a threat to their security and liberty.

Consequently, a rare combination of African steadfastness and raw American power has won an important victory on this new battlefront in the war on terror, thereby frustrating attempts by Islamic militants to seize control of a strategically important country, and denying refuge to the instigators and perpetrators of acts of evil.

Sunday's events in Somalia lend credence to the warning the late President Ronald Reagan gave a previous generation of Islamic terrorists: you can run, but you can't hide.
Patience, the skilled tracking of terrorists, and the willingness to kill them when the opportunity presents itself is what is called for in the war. Thankfully, whatever his other failures as president, Bush gets the terror thing.