Disconnected Dots

Last week President Obama claimed that “our intelligence community failed to connect those dots” signaling a plot to blow up Flight 253. But ritual flogging of the intelligence community has diverted attention from a larger failure — this one belonging squarely on Obama’s shoulders.

Zoom out from the plentiful red flags outlining what we already know about the Christmas Day attack. Now observe the connection between it and two (of many) other “dots”: the suicide bombing by a double agent at a U.S. base in Afghanistan; and the (latest) failed assassination attempt on Kurt Westergaard, who drew the Mohammad-with-a-bomb-in-his-turban cartoon.

On the face of it, these have little if anything in common. Unlike the Nigerian bomber on Flight 253, the bomber in Afghanistan used an explosive-packed vest; the assassin in Denmark wielded an ax. The Nigerian was a recent college graduate, scion of a wealthy family; the killer in Afghanistan was a doctor of Jordanian descent; the Danish assassin, an immigrant from Somalia. Not their origin, not their specific targets, not their choice of weapon, not their age or income-level — none of these are the same. Nor is there any evidence that they ever met.

But they do share an ideological bond that underlies — and drives — their militant action. They belong to a movement that is waging a holy war to impose Islam as the supreme governing authority over the totality of people’s lives, by force and everywhere.

That’s why the bomber sought to put to death a plane full of people heading to the United States on Christmas Day — as punishment for failing to embrace Allah and as a gruesome spectacle vaunting the strength of the jihadist cause.

That’s why the would-be assassin of Westergaard planned to hack him apart: Westergaard’s drawing had flouted Muslim dogma on “blasphemy.” So the assassin came to enforce sharia (Islamic law) — on the totalitarian belief that sharia negates any freedom of speech under secular Danish law.

That’s why the Jordanian double agent in Afghanistan felt it necessary to slaughter Americans, including seven CIA operatives: they were working to capture leaders of Al Qaeda, one of many groups advancing Islamic totalitarianism.

These are just three “dots” forming part of a larger picture. We face an ideological, militant movement that (I argue) is spearheaded by state sponsors, chiefly the Islamist regime in Iran.

But it is a picture that the Obama administration refuses to bring into focus. Recall that after the Flight 253 attack, the president dismissed the bomber as an “isolated extremist” (a term perhaps even more evasive than “terrorist”). And observe the prevailing view that we’re dealing with a multitude of separate problems — Iran, Afghanistan, random-seeming attacks on planes, etc. — that have to be dealt with piecemeal.

We have already seen how this approach plays out.

This myopic mentality, I argue in my book, is precisely the approach that dominated U.S. policy in the decades leading up to 9/11 — decades punctuated with numerous Islamist attacks. The attacks were tagged vaguely as “terrorism” and each regarded as a separate crisis. The fact that there was a distinct ideological force behind these attacks went unrecognized and the enemy, undeterred.