Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 140612
Bin Laden is Dead and Al Qaeda is on the Run . . . Not!
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
June 12, 2014
In spite of claims to the contrary, al Qaeda and its allies and friends are alive and well—and seeking the destroy America and all our values and traditions. We have the knowledge and means to counter a growing existential threat posed by them, but we must recognize the threat and deal with it. Included in our response should be building effective defenses and hardening the electric power grid. Soon!
Since early in the 2012 Presidential campaign, we have been told many dozens of times that “bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is on the run.” This has been a major theme supporting President Obama’s initiatives to declare victory and withdraw from the Middle East.
Whatever the state of the American public’s understandable desire to bring our troops home, it is now clear that this claim, no doubt intended to exploit its political benefits, has been blatantly false.
Al Qaeda Is Alive and Well.
Overseas terrorist events have morphed into a diverse collection of more-or-less dispersed, and perhaps bottom-up designed and executed, attacks. But al Qaeda and its surrogates and allies clearly have persisted—and Jihadi terrorist events are growing in their frequency and intensity, as we execute our announced departure from the field of conflict.
For example: Last Tuesday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—an al-Qaeda offshoot—overran the Iraqi city of Mosul, the largest and most important city in northern Iraq.
U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers and police officers abandoned their posts, in some instances discarding their uniforms as they sought to escape the advance of the militants. (Click here for the Washington Post account.)Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians also fled the surprise onslaught, exposing the inadequacies of Iraq’s security forces and enabling extremists to capture large quantities of weaponry, much of it American. Not an impressive accounting for our investments in their training—not to mention the cost of over a trillion dollars and about 4500 American lives lost in Iraq since 2003.
This event also illustrated the rapidly expanding extremist army that threatens the fragile stability of Iraq and the wider region. It was more important than when the city of Fallujah was captured in January by ISIS and other insurgents, because Mosul is bigger and is located at a strategically vital intersection on routes linking Iraq to Turkey and Syria.
By some accounts, al Qaeda’s ISIS controlled by Wednesday, June 11, about a tenth of Iraqi territory – the size of Portugal – and 3.5 million inhabitants, around ten percent of the country’s national population. They clearly are on the march to Bagdad and seeking a new state—a formal beginning of a Caliphate?
Mosul’s fall is another wake-up call to the West. The fact is that al Qaeda and its allies are advancing into the foreign policy vacuum created by the Obama administration’s policies, particularly its announced staged plans to leave the Middle East by dates certain.
Will we again hit the “snooze” button?
The Taliban Five.
This threat is exacerbated by the administration’s release of the five senior Taliban terrorists. Focusing on Sgt. Bergdahl and the trade misses the main problem, in my opinion.
There should be no comfort taken in the administration’s assurances that Qatar will live up to whatever agreement was made regarding constraints on the “Taliban Five”. We should expect them to return to their terrorist ways.
Links to Pakistan’s Nukes?
The overarching role of the Taliban and its ties to Pakistan is particularly worrisome. Pakistan, by public accounts, has a hundred or so nuclear weapons.
We are justified in worrying about Iran developing nuclear weapons—and the way to bet is that, in spite of our diplomatic efforts, Iran will succeed. At best we will delay Iran’s nuclear development programs.
What about al Qaeda or their surrogates getting their hands on one or more existing Pakistani nuclear weapons?
The Taliban is closely aligned with al Qaeda—perhaps most notably illustrated by its support of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan—until the May 2, 2011 SEAL attack killed him just 34 miles from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and gave rise to President Obama’s claim that “bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is on the run.”
And remember that the Taliban has other important ties. For example, the Taliban claimed credit for a recent assault on Jinnah Airport in Karachi. that shut down all flights. At least some in this group are reported to be members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a jihadist group allied with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and al Qaeda.
An Existential Threat to America.
Given these facts, it does not take a Tom Clancy to imagine scenarios by which one or more Pakistani nuclear weapons make their way into the hands of a terrorist network that attacks the United States. And I worry that we are not prepared to counter some straight forward threatening scenarios that take advantage to our well known vulnerabilities.
For example, a nuclear weapon in a well shielded configuration might be transported by sea to be detonated in a U.S. harbor, say in the harbor of New York City or Norfolk, Virginia. In fact, such a nuclear attack is the top priority threat called out by the Department of Homeland Security among a dozen or so threats identified for all government agencies to address.
But there are even more dangerous nuclear threats that all government agencies should also address—but which are apparently being ignored by DHS. At least the above mentioned list contains none of these more dangerous nuclear threat scenarios.
For example, if a nuclear weapon were mated to even a short range ballistic missile and launched from near our coasts to be detonated at high altitude, the resulting electromagnetic pulse (EMP) could cause havoc by shutting down a major portion of the electric power grid.
Furthermore, if the ballistic missile reached a 150 miles or so altitude over the central United States before its nuclear weapon was detonated, the entire electric power grid could be shut down indefinitely—and, literally, several hundred million Americans could die within a year from the resulting chaos and societal collapse.
Today, we are largely defenseless against these plausible scenarios. And at least some terrorist, like the five we just released, would love to execute such a scenario.
Even state leaders, like the Iranian mullahs, openly state they aspire to destroy the “Great Satan” America. And we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to attack by which they can accomplish their announced objective, perhaps with aid from the likes of the Taliban Five.
The “Little Satan” Israel gets it and is doing all it can to defend against ballistic missile attack—and Israel has made a political decision to harden its electric power grid. We are helping them—the Congress just added additional funds to support Israel’s efforts to build effective ballistic missile defenses.
So, why don’t we protect our own people?
Defend America, Now!
What does it take? We need to persuade the powers that be:
- For our Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) ships that operate near our coasts, to be sure their crews are trained, awake and alert. They have the inherent, tested capability to shoot down short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles, if they are stationed appropriately.
- To protect against an attack from the Gulf of Mexico (and other places South), we need other defenses because our Aegis BMD ships are not normally in the Gulf. My recommendation is to deploy Aegis Ashore sites at military bases around the Gulf of Mexico. The Aegis Ashore system is being developed for deployment in Romania (2015) and Poland (2018), so there would be negligible development costs for sites around the Gulf of Mexico—just the deployment costs.
- To harden our electric power grid—using well known methods developed during the Cold War to harden our strategic systems and their supporting command, control and communication systems.
- To prepare our local and state authorities to deal with the EMP threat.
Not too much, if only we can get the Washington bureaucracy to do the right thing—and if our state and local authorities are prepared.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
We will encourage “the powers that be” to “make the Navy’s Aegis BMD system all it can be,” including to deploy Aegis Ashore sites around the Gulf of Mexico.
We will continue our efforts to inform state and local authorities about the EMP threat and expand our work with the National Guard to help them gain knowledge and workable plans to help harden the electric power grid and counter the EMP threat. This work should go hand in hand with the efforts to gain support from State legislators to expand on the excellent work in Maine and Virginia, who have passed legislation requiring serious studies of the EMP threat and the needed countermeasures to protect the electric power grid.
The most recent bill passed in record time without single negative vote in Virginia can be used as a ready pattern.
We will continue working with South Carolinians to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to this serious threat. We will expand this effort to neighboring and other states.
We are informing SC state legislators and senators about the threat and what can be done to deal with it—and hopefully they will follow Maine and Virginia in seeking to harden the electric power grid. We also expect support from Cong. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) whose district includes my SC farm—and who is a member of the Congressional EMP Caucus seeking passage of the Shield Act and the Infrastructure Protection Act, as well as other SC representatives.
We will be working with members of the EMP Coalition and others who are seeking to take our message across the country—especially with Bob Newman, a former Adjutant General of Virginia to help us link our SC plans more broadly and especially into Virginia and the National Capital region.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
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