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For Every Terrorist We Get, We Are Killing Civilians - Retired FBI Agent

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We’re continuing to explore the US-led Global War on terror. How come that after more than a decade of fighting terrorism at home and abroad Washington appears to be unable to track down terrorists in US and somehow gets to contribute to increasing terrorist activity in the rest of the world?

We’re continuing to explore the US-led  Global War on terror and try to understand why it has actually resulted in an increased terrorist threat around the globe.

In its July, 30 issue the NYT has run a story ‘Suicide Bomber From US Came Home Before Attack’: “When Moner Mohammad Abusalha drove a truck packed with explosives into a restaurant in northern Syria in May, American authorities conceded that they knew little about how a young man who grew up a basketball-obsessed teenager in a Florida gated community had become a suicide bomber.”

How come that after more than a decade of fighting terrorism at home and abroad Washington appears to be unable to track down terrorists at home and somehow gets to contribute to increasing terrorist activity in the rest of the world?

Says Coleen Rowley, a retired FBI agent and former FBI Minneapolis Division legal counsel:

After the 9/11 US has led wars around the world, as well as – what they call – counterterrorism operations, fighting insurgents around the world. The FBI in its turn is in charge of including the domestic counterterrorism, which is actually preventing a terrorist attack domestically. The question is has this helped? Have any of these actually reduced the level of terrorism or has it increased the hatred and the radicalization of various groups or any of the individuals around the world, or are they now going to actually make us less safe?

I wrote articles years ago already that that was going to happen, because what is going on with these wars is that they really aren’t counterterrorism. They are wars that are offensive. And by drone bombing, for instance, in Yemen, the statistics are that they have increased the number of radicals and terrorists three- or four-fold. So, when they began to use drone bombing in Yemen, there were a few hundreds and now there are a few thousands of terrorists.

Even some of our generals, McChrystal alluded to this, that what are we doing in Afghanistan? For every terrorist we get, we are killing civilians and all of those civilians have families, and now they become radicalized. Another case right now is in Syria, where in ways the US was looking the other way at the real radicals, jihadist groups that were affiliated with al-Qaeda, like al-Nusra and now the new one – Islamic State. And so, they didn’t really care if they got weapons and were fighting, the US was okay with that, because the goal was to topple Assad.

Now, the problem comes from that group now spreading into Iraq and taking on the Iraqi Government that the US claimed that they had helped to bolster against terrorism. And so, they have two different agendas here.

This is basically history repeating, because if you go back to Charlie Wilson's War, the US was actually funding the mujahidins and they then morphed into al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The same phenomenon has repeated over and over again. I often write on even my Facebook, I say – we’ve seen this movie before – referring to Charlie Wilson's War.

And you can’t operate different groups around the country with this goal of changing governments or creating instability, and then not think that it is going to have serious consequences and repercussions later on.

Many experts, I'm not the only one, many-many experts now are saying that this recent case of the American who went to Syria and drove a truck laid in with explosives into a group of Syrians (I think there were maybe some military or government, but it was a mixture of civilians and government forces) and killed dozens of people. He actually was in the US before he went to Syria and even came back to the US, and for some reason they were never able to detect him, even though they claim they are monitoring everybody.

And that is the fear now that many experts have, that these various hotspots, where the kind of Petraeus-type counterinsurgencies and drone bombings are taking place, are now morphing into real dangers domestically.

So, what I'm trying to say here is that you have to kind of feel sorry for an agency like the FBI that is nearly on the defense. When I’ve written about this, I’ve said that this is kind of like a soccer game and the FBI would be like the goalie trying to prevent a goal. And now, your offense is out there creating problems. Your offense is terrible. And the other side is growing. So, if you have 10 players that are trying to keep that goal from going in, now the other side has 50 players. Sooner or later the poor goalie is going to be the one to suffer.

And so, inevitably, if another terrorist act occurs, they’ve merely prevented several already, and the Boston one did happen, when those acts occur, the first one that is under the microscope is the poor agency that is supposed to be defending domestically from terrorism. But that’s not the real problem here. The problem is that they are creating more terrorists abroad in all different ways, in some cases even by helping certain terrorist groups.

I just have one more example I'm going to pull up here, because this was about a year and a half ago. The US had a group of Iranian Mujahadeen-e-Khalq and they were long on the US’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. They had even killed Americans in the past etc. So, they were on the list. But now, in the last couple of years we had many of our neocon politicians ask for that group to be taken off the list, so that they could then be operated and used to destabilize Iran.

Very much Charlie Wilson’s War all over again, the same notion. And of course, this never works, it always results in bad consequences. But sure enough, after a few months of high pressuring they took this net – Mujahadeen-e-Khalq – off the list and now they are free to use them, to ally with them and use them.

I think, absolutely, that if you have groups anywhere around the world that are committing acts of violence against the civilian population – that should be the definition of terrorism. And so, when you have these groups, then, yes, all the countries should cooperate with each other, share information with each other. A good example was Russia telling the US about the Tsarnaev brothers.

That is the idea playing into the case that I was peripherally involved with before 9/11. France’s intelligence gave information to the US about Musawi. And that is exactly what you want. If the other country keeps its mouth shut, because they are skeptical of what the US is doing or they don’t trust, that’s been another consequence of all this global war on terrorism. You now have other countries around the world that are even reticent to share information about true terrorism, because they see that the US does not handle it well and that they have a double purpose here etc.

I mean, really, it is not difficult to reduce terrorism. They would make you think that it is very difficult and that you have to use all these extreme measures etc, but that’s not true at all. We need to go back to more international cooperation and not be working at these cross agendas of starting war in Iraq, when it doesn’t pose any danger etc. All of those things are extremely counterproductive.

John Nomikos, the Director at the Research Institute for European and American Studies, and the Chairman of the European Intelligence Academy:

What we see in our region – in the Mediterranean – we see the Israeli-Hamas conflict. The peace process isn’t there. I mean, it is not moving. This, as a domino effect, might create a lot of problems to the Balkans. Look at Syria. Look at the chaos in Libya. Look at Iraq. Look at what is going on in Turkey between Erdogan against the Israeli and the elite group there. Look at the Kurds.

And, at the same time, what we have here in the EU – we have the Italian presidency in the EU. What is the number one issue in the EU right now? – Illegal migration, human trafficking (mostly for the matter of liaison) and the Islamic networks in the Mediterranean and in the Balkans.

What we will see in 2015? We see that foreign jihadists with the European passports, who fought in Syria and Iraq, they are coming back to their own countries with the European passports. They are coming to Serbia, they are coming to Greece, they are coming to Germany, they are coming to Norway in 2015.

What all this means? That means that the EU and the USA needs to join forces to combat the international Islamic networks which come back to us, because when these foreign jihadists come to Europe, automatically they are going to go to Canada and the US.

Now I come to the point. Why all these terrorists with all these mental problems are not controlled, according to the report published by the Columbia University. There is something I do not understand. I cannot use my logic here. This is something that goes outside my imagination – how is that, that you are not controlling these people, because, imagine, you have these people coming to Europe or any other part of the planet, foreign jihadists from Syria come to you.

It is a big mistake going on right now – to marginalize and push Russia into the corner, because Russia is a stabilizing factor in controlling the Islamic networks and the US should be able to collaborate with Russia. And whoever has Russia at its side controls all of Eurasia and, most importantly Europe and China. To me it seems a goal for pursuing for the superpower like the US.

I mean, I do not really understand why the US is putting economic sanctions against Russia. They should have Russia and its energy in combating terrorism join antiterrorism and counterintelligence operation against the Islamic networks.

And let me tell you some other things that I discuss with many colleagues when I go to the conferences. What will happen in winter? Now the weather is good in the summertime, people go to the beaches. What will happen in winter when the Europeans, especially the big countries like Germany and France, will need oil and gas and other natural resources from Russia? Who is going to supply?

They are going to be freezing. They are going to ask Russia to support them, because they need oil and gas. So, what is the need to have this kind of economic sanctions now, and then, after three months you are going to ask Russia to support you.

This is something that I really do not understand. I do believe that Turkey should be a buffer zone stopping the Islamic networks and the foreign jihadists who come through Turkey to Greece using the illegal immigrants. The illegal immigrants have been used by Libya. Look what is happening in Libya. Nobody is stopping them. These Islamic terrorist networks go from Malta to Lampedusa island, they go to Italy.

The same happen to us, to the Greek island and Evros. And they go to Bulgaria. And the only countries that could stop this through collaboration are the US, Russia and the EU, and help the southern states all the way from Portugal to Greece, to stop the flow of the European citizens and foreign jihadists today from coming to Europe. 2015 is going to be a big problem for the EU. And now, instead of joining forces to combat the real problem – what we do? – we put Russia in the corner because of the Ukrainian problem.

Let me tell you something. Vladimir Putin is doing the obvious. He is the leader of the country. He is supposed to support his national interests. I mean, every leader should do that. So, the point is – Russia, the US and the EU sit at the table and see what is going on. They need to find a solution, because 2015 is going to be a big problem and we are going to have an increase in terrorism, and the cohesion of the EU is going to be very bad. The EU would be destabilized if you put Russia in the corner now.

I don’t know what kind of strategy these people use. We have chaos everywhere. We have chaos where 1000 Palestinian people are dead. How many people from Israel – I don’t know, 45, 50…I mean, there is a big problem. The peace process isn’t there, it is not working. And the other side is Libya. What is happening in Libya? – Chaos! Look at Syria! So, 2015 is a year of the big powers like the US, like the EU, like Russia, which is a stabilizing factor, joining forces to control and combat the increase of terrorism in 2015.

And in Ukraine they need to sit down and find a solution to stop the Ukrainian conflict as soon as possible, because, like I said, in the wintertime all of these, who are putting the economic sanctions today, are going to ask Vladimir Putin to help them with the natural gas. And then, what are they going to do if Putin says “no”? What is the other alternative?

Rationality doesn’t work. I don’t understand why they are pushing Russia into the corner, because they need it in the long-term. Is there any logic behind it? Is that a strategy? I don’t understand it. That’s the point. Now we should join forces to combat the increasing terrorism in 2015 and Russia must be in the plan.

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terror attack, terrorist, 9/11, terrorism, FBI
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