¿Quién gana la guerra contra el terrorismo?

When British officials arrested two dozen people accused of plotting to down several airliners over the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, it was seen in some circles as a victory for counterterrorism efforts. Steven Simon, former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, says the foiled attack could have been «the next big one.» Yet many experts were more troubled than reassured by the arrests, in part because it showed the threat of terrorism on a catastrophic scale is persistent. Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden Unit, writes, «Several strategic inferences can be drawn from the disrupted London operation, none of which are encouraging for the ultimate success of the West’s counterterrorism campaign» (Jamestown).
CFR President Richard N. Haass says that when it comes to fighting terror, «We are still behind the curve.» Numerous predictions of coming attacks—though perhaps none as provocative as former terrorism czar Richard Clarke’s 2005 article in The Atlantic—seem to bolster this point of view. Yet not everyone agrees. Writing in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, Ohio State University’s John Mueller ponders a question that is on many people’s minds: «If it is so easy to pull off an attack and the terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it?» Perhaps one reason for this is the Bush administration’s emphasis on defending the homeland after the 9/11 attacks. Budget analyst Steven M. Kosiak says in this podcast the $58 billion planned for homeland security in the coming fiscal year is actually spread across about twenty agencies and the largest portion will be focused on border and transportation security.
Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, tells CFR.org «Al-Qaeda is crippled and is certainly not the organization it was,» but points out the 2005 Country Reports on Terrorism noted an increasingly sophisticated enemy. One sign of this is a tactical shift on the part of al-Qaeda, which has stepped up efforts to promote its own radical ideology to inspire others to commit acts of terror. This has led to an increase in incidents of homegrown terrorism, a particularly troubling trend in Europe, which according to terrorism expert Douglas Farah, «has become the focal point for recruitment and expansion for several strands of Islamist thought and activity.» With the exception of a blundering group of Miami jihadists (Stratfor), homegrown terror does not appear to have yet caught on in the United States. That is not to say it won’t, and CFR Senior Fellow Steven E. Flynn warns in this podcast that «we have not yet got a handle on the movement toward a homegrown terrorist threat.» Shortly after the arrest of the «Miami Seven,» FBI Director Robert Mueller discussed the growing danger of homegrown terrorism.
A Foreign Policy survey of more than one hundred experts found 79 percent of those questioned believe a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 will occur in the United States in the next five years. Nearly half of them believe the greatest threat to national security is posed by weapons of mass destruction. Testifying before Congress, Flynn outlines one of his own nightmare scenarios in which a dirty bomb attack on commercial supply lines touches off a global recession.

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