(Jim Clark) – Nevadans are fortunate to have T. W. (Ty) Cobb as our friend and neighbor. A career Army officer, he was tapped by President Reagan to be special assistant for national security affairs. Those who attended one of the Ronald Reagan 100th birthday celebrations featuring Ty last year were treated to a first hand look at recent history complete with photos from his personal collection of the Gipper and Soviet leaders.
Ty serves as head of the Northern Nevada Network as well as organizer and host of local national security forums for Northern Nevadans. The most recent forum bore the timely title: “Global Terrorism After Osama bin Laden” and featured former U.S. Central Command General John Abezaid, as well as Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer, currently head of the “Combating Terrorism Center” at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. These two officers conducted a joint presentation in Reno on June 8 covering the likely path of Al Qaida and other extremist groups in view of Osama bin Laden’s recent demise. There were well over 150 in attendance.
Since we popped bin Laden, does that mean we won? History shows that to be unlikely according to our two experts. Tracing similar past events, Islamic Jihad is more likely to intensify efforts to harm the U.S. and its interests than to fold its tent. Studies have shown that the attacks will resume with a vengeance once the traditional Muslim 40-day mourning period ends.
This distinguished duo warned that rather than take a victory lap, Washington should prepare for some possible troubling scenarios in the immediate and protracted future. First, authorities should be concerned with plans al Qaida already had in the pipeline at the time U.S. Navy Seals put an end to bin Laden. Just days before the raid, German authorities disrupted a planned attack in Berlin, so it should be assumed that the surviving terrorists will execute what was already planned. The fact that our special operating forces were able to make off with bin Laden’s computer may give allies a one-up in identifying and disarming that threat.
Second, leadership needs to concern itself with the idea that al Qaida might harness tools like Facebook and Twitter, which were used by Arab protestors to facilitate the “Arab Spring,” to spark a world wide series of terrorist acts. The purpose of this would be to distract intelligence agencies from plans for a spectacular attack designed to dramatically shatter American complacency.
Third, we need to take seriously Al Qaida’s statement following bin Laden’s death: “The soldiers of Islam, groups and individuals, will continue planning without tiredness or boredom, without despair or surrender, and without weakness or stagnancy, until they cause the disaster that makes children look like the elderly.” Terrorism experts believe that al Qaida intends to summon terrorists and ordinary citizens to undermine Pakistan’s fragile democracy by creating a popular backlash against the U.S.
Fourth, allies should be wary of another major Pakistani jihadist attack against India along the lines of the 2008 Mumbai incident. This could prompt a major Indian military reaction, thus destabilizing the entire area. Recall that both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, so it wouldn’t take much to escalate tensions to an armed clash between the two nations.
Finally, al Qaida affiliates in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula together with Hamas and Hezbollah, although unaffected by bin Laden’s death, would be likely to join in on any schemes to avenge his death.
We should be grateful to Ty and these two distinguished speakers for this clear warning that it’s not time to go dancing in the street.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee; he can be contacted at email@example.com )