I n August 1996, the scion of one of the wealthiest commoners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia declared war on America. Five years later, Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda operatives killed almost 3,000 Americans in the space of 102 minutes... How bin Laden masterminded the deadliest terrorist attack in modern history has been the topic of hundreds of books and thousands of articles and classified analyses. Following last week’s 19th anniversary of that attack, as the names of all the people who were killed are read out once more, and as we remember and pay our respects to those who died on that sunny Tuesday morning, as well as to those who gave their lives taking the war to the Jihadists in Afghanistan and the Middle East, we must ask a handful of strategic questions... Where are we today in the “Global War on Terror?” Have we possibly won? And if so, how? I spent the years after 9/11 working for the U.S. military and the FBI dissecting the ideology of groups like al Qaeda and ISIS... communicating what I found to our warfighters and special agents... and then
working with them to effect ways in which to defeat our new enemies wherever they may be. Eventually I would collect what I had found – and learned from those who actually were the tip of the spear – in a book called Defeating Jihad , which eventually would help propel me to the White House and into the position of Strategist to the President. As a result, I’ve had a ringside seat to watch the evolution of how we waged this irregular war against an unconventional foe and witness what worked... and what didn’t. First came George W. Bush’s Global War on Terrorism phase. It started well and ended badly. The beginning was defined by excellence as a handful of Special Forces troops and CIA operators sallied forth on horseback into Afghanistan armed with personal weapons and laptops, eventually leveraging 20,000 indigenous fighters from the Northern Alliance to topple the Taleban, which had given shelter and succor to Al Qaeda, and to destroy bin Laden’s terror camps. However, this textbook case of irregular warfare, the reason why the Green Berets were originally founded, would be the exception. In the years that followed, we would see ideologically blinkered neoconservative members of the Bush Administration take us from killing or capturing those responsible for 9/11 to squandering blood and treasure to effect regime-change in Iraq, chase after weapons of mass destruction, and bog us down in fantastical “nation building” ventures in Afghanistan. It was not our finest hour.
How bin Laden masterminded the
deadliest terrorist attack in modern history has been the topic of hundreds of books and thousands of articles and classified analyses.
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