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Interesting OP-Ed Piece: "Forty-Fourth Terrorist Plot Against the U.S. Marks Need for Continued Vigilance" by Jessica Zuckerman / Washington, D.C published Monday January 9th, 2012

An interesting op-ed piece mentioned that last Saturday night, 25-year-old Sami Osmakac was arrested in connection to an alleged Islamist-inspired terrorist plot in Tampa, Florida. Osmakac, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the former Yugoslavia, is believed to have planned to use vehicle bombs, assault rifles, grenades, and other explosives in an attack on possible targets including night clubs, businesses, and a local sheriff’s office. Osmakac’s arrest marks at least the 44th terrorist plot foiled against the U.S. since 9/11. Like this most recent plot, the vast majority of the attempted attacks against the U.S. have been foiled through the swift, concerted effort of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. So what is up with this radical fundamentalists and what more can we do?

Increasingly, a number of attempted terrorist plots have been undertaken by individual or small-group actors with few or no direct ties to transnational terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaeda. Yet what this week’s thwarted attack once again shows is that “lone wolf” operations can be stopped when law enforcement is given the intelligence and investigatory tools they need. The threat of terrorist attack remains real, and the U.S. should continue its vigilance. Yet key holes within the U.S. counterterrorism enterprise remain unfilled. In order to thwart the next attempted attack, Congress and the Administration should: Ensure that vital counterterrorism tools are maintained. Of the 44 attempted terrorist plots foiled since 9/11, only three were not stopped in the early stages of preparation. While these three plots may have appeared too close for comfort, the vast majority of plots have been foiled early on through the actions of law enforcement and intelligence. Key investigative tools such as the PATRIOT Act, having helped to thwart numerous attempted attacks in the past, remain vital in ensuring that law enforcement and intelligence authorities have the essential counterterrorism tools they need. In order to ensure that such vital counterterrorism tools are maintained, Congress should seek to make the three sunsetting provisions of the PATRIOT Act permanent. Examine information-sharing gaps. Efforts to increase information sharing between the U.S. and its allies while improving interagency communications among the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security and intelligence agencies are vital to protecting the U.S. from the continued threat of terrorism. Increased efforts at information sharing would amplify efficiency and timeliness in the counterterrorism field. Clarify the role of state and local law enforcement. An increasing number of the attempted terrorist plots against the U.S. have been undertaken by individual or small group “lone wolf” actors. With this changing profile of terrorist threats, adaptive approaches to counterterrorism—including fostering a greater role for state and local governments—are essential. The fact is; Islamic fundamentalism arguably presents a political and economic challenge to the island nation in the short term to medium term. THE ARAB Spring is sweeping away the pan-Arab secular nationalist order that has dominated the region since the 1950s, and replacing it with the rule of democratically elected parties rooted in religion. Secular liberals who mounted regime-changing uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and pressed the government of Morocco to carry out reforms are facing a bitter winter of discontent. The main problem for the revolutionaries is that they are identified with the secular pan-Arab nationalists, represented by the Arab Nationalist Movement (Nasserites) and the Baath party, which embodied the hopes and dreams of Arabs for more than six decades. Although they won independence from western colonial regimes, the nationalists failed to unite the Arabs, bring economic advancement to a majority, fend off western intervention, and resolve the Palestine problem. In countries where these parties reigned, they behaved autocratically, appropriated resources, widened the gulf between rich and poor, squabbled with each other, and betrayed the Palestinians. The fundamentalists’ most dramatic electoral success so far has been in Egypt, where the mainstream Muslim Brotherhood, moderate Wasat and radical Salafis have taken nearly two-thirds of the vote in the first and second of three rounds in the election for the lower house of parliament. The surprising aspect of this development is the strong showing of the Salafis who made their debut in democratic politics in this election. In Libya, where regime change was effected by war, the Salafi Islamic Fighting Group – which fielded a large proportion of the militiamen who defeated the forces of Muammar Gadafy – is now asserting its right to a prominent place in political life. Instead of flowering into multiparty democracy, the Arab Spring may not only give birth to authoritarian Sunni fundamentalist rule but also promote Sunni unity from Morocco to the Gulf, Egypt being the trendsetter. If this happens the fundamentalists could confront Iran, the region’s Shia power, and its ally Iraq, and forge a solid front against Israel instead of making peace with it. Israel is seen by the overwhelming majority of fundamentalists as not only an illegal occupier of Palestine but as a usurper of sacred Muslim soil. Unfortunately, this week’s thwarted attack will not be the last terrorist plot attempted against the U.S. Ensuring that the next attempted attack is stopped early on requires that the U.S. be committed to maintaining a strong and enduring counterterrorism enterprise with the rise of fundamentalist governments related to the Arab Spring.



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