EDITORIAL: Obama won’t connect terror dots

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When a man is apprehended with a cache of weapons, body armor, a map of a military installation and jihadist personal effects, the natural response of most Americans is to assume the situation is terrorist-related. The Obama administration says otherwise.

Lloyd R. Woodson was arrested Jan. 25 in rural New Jersey. He had been observed behaving strangely, wearing military-style fatigues and a bulletproof vest. He had a weapon modified to fire .50-caliber rounds from beneath his jacket. He had a hotel room full of weapons and ammunition. Despite all these warning signs, the immediate response from the government was that this was “not a terrorism thing.”

Bureaucratic lack of concern raises a critical question: If this is not the behavior of a terrorist, what is?

It’s not clear what the Obama administration thinks terrorism is, if it thinks it exists at all. The administration doggedly maintains that political, especially jihadist, violence by individuals with no international linkage is not terrorism. This definition might come as a surprise to the Unabomber, who for years was the most sought-after terrorist in America.

President Obama’s knee-jerk response that the Christmas Day bombing plot was not terror-related was probably one of the factors that led Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to be Mirandized quickly and treated as a criminal suspect. It shouldn’t matter that this was a domestic incident; he is a jihadist warrior, and the aircraft was his battlefield.

The same was the case with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, charged with killing 14 persons and wounding 31 in the Fort Hood massacre. America was assured that Maj. Hasan had no foreign terrorist links, and he was not charged with committing an act of terrorism. The Obama administration’s report on the shooting, released three weeks ago, avoids mentioning radical Islam as a motivating factor in his rampage. However, both Maj. Hasan and Mr. Abdulmutallab had relationships with Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is a leading member of al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, and Mr. Abdulmutallab was trained by al Qaeda overseas.

Mr. Woodson also may have links to Islamic radicals. A report by the Northeast Intelligence Network reveals that, according to a member of New Jersey law enforcement, Mr. Woodson’s personal effects “not only associate him with ‘radical Islam,’ but also with a ‘militant Islamic group.’ ” But as the two cases mentioned above indicate, even this would not qualify him as a terrorist under the Obama administration’s narrow definition.

In his State of the Union address, the president bragged that in 2009, “hundreds of al Qaeda’s fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed - far more than in 2008.” He claims this is a metric of progress. However, if Taliban leader Mullah Omar gave a State of the Caliphate address, he could make the same claim. More Coalition forces are being killed in Afghanistan, and Taliban attacks are increasing in size, scope and frequency.

Analysts suggest that Osama bin Laden’s audiotape released last week signals the potential for future attacks. An unusually high number of people on no-fly lists are trying to board aircraft. Increasing casualties and activity on both sides are not metrics of progress; they are signs that the war is heating up.

According to the Pew Research Center, terrorism ranks slightly below jobs and the economy as a top public priority. Americans know there is a problem. Official statements claiming that incidents are not terror-related will not change the fact that they are. Connect the dots, Mr. President. The war on terrorism is still on, and it’s getting hotter.

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