A Trenchant Talk About Terror
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because what history + spies tell us about terrorism sheds a whole new light on some longtime problems.
There were 8,500 terror attacks worldwide in 2012, according to terrorism researchers at the University of Maryland. If that number looks big, it is; in fact, it’s up 50 percent over the previous year — but the number of fatalities has dropped 25 percent since 2007. Most of the attacks in 2012 — and during the 10 years covered by the study (2002–2012) — took place in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The former deputy director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, writes on OZY that he admires the NYPD, and here’s why: ”The NYPD and its intelligence unit are in a class by themselves. In fact, I tend to think of that intelligence unit as the rough equivalent of a crack foreign intelligence service. In many respects, its structure and ethos mirror that of the CIA at its best. This is no accident. The intelligence unit is headed by David Cohen, one of the most aggressive, smart and accomplished CIA officers I ever worked with. Cohen retired from the agency some years ago and went to work for the NYPD shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Cohen held senior positions in both the analytical and operational parts of the CIA and, in his last job, was the chief of the CIA’s worldwide clandestine operations. He’s an innovative, decisive, often controversial guy who once said publicly — referring to his current work — that if you could ’start the CIA over in a post-9/11 world … this is what you would do.’”
A landlocked nation of 16 million people that is one of Africa’s poorest and most remote is an unlikely candidate to be one of the United States’ newest strategic allies. But thanks to the shifting nature of the global terrorist threat, that’s exactly what Niger has become. Niger just happens to border Mali, Algeria and Libya to its west and north, and has a long shared border with Nigeria to its south. All four neighbors are grappling with Islamic militancy that has made swaths of their territory virtually lawless. Niger also has had a relatively stable democratic government since Mahamadou Issoufou was elected president in 2011, replacing a military junta.
Sayyid Qutb (pronounced kuh-tub) was an Egyptian academic in his mid-40s, off to study in Washington D.C., rural Colorado and Stanford. He dressed in an elegantly trimmed suit, sported a neat mustache and had years of English-style education under his belt. Though a devout Muslim, Qutb was not particularly radical when he left his country for the first time. When he returned home in 1950, however, he transformed into a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a virulent opponent of the secular Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.