- - Monday, January 6, 2014


In a storyline that would be dismissed by most in Hollywood as too cynical and far-fetched, al Qaeda has recaptured Fallujah, site of the Iraq War’s bloodiest battles, while President Obama has simultaneously launched a newly invigorated effort to free them and their “affiliates” from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

Though nearly one-third of the 4,474 U.S. combat fatalities in Iraq came through the prolonged fight to pry Fallujah and the surrounding Anbar province in the country’s “wild west” out of al Qaeda’s grasp, the power vacuum left by Mr. Obama’s complete withdrawal of our troops in December 2011 has allowed the terrorist network to triumphantly reclaim the city just two years later.

So much for the president’s boast in October 2012 while on the campaign trail: “Al Qaeda is on the road to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”

As though al Qaeda’s resurgence in Fallujah and the president’s misleading statements aren’t bad enough, he and his top advisers have thrown gasoline on the fire in their continued quest to close Guantanamo, letting the chips fall where they may. After two years of stalling, the White House has just orchestrated the release of 11 detainees in the past several months, including battle-hardened al Qaeda veterans of Afghanistan.

Incredibly, these include Said Muhammad Husyan Qahtani and Hamoud Abdullah Hamoud, al Qaeda militants who served in bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade, which fought U.S. and coalition troops in Kabul, Bagram and Tora Bora. According to the Joint Task Force’s Guantanamo file on Qahtani, “[the] detainee volunteered for a martyrdom mission and was identified by al Qaeda senior commanders to be a suicide bomber.”

Others recent departures include radical Islamic militants from Algeria, Sudan and China’s separatist Xinjiang province, better known as “East Turkistan” by the ethnic Uighurs fighting for its independence.

It gets worse.

These 11 are just the first wave of Gitmo detainees to be released during this latest Oval Office push to close the detention facilities. In a compromise deal forced by Republicans to keep terrorists linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban at least out of the mainland United States and potentially freed into American communities by a wide variety of activist judges, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 has significantly loosened restrictions on transferring nearly 80 more overseas.

These so-called “cleared” detainees, who have been determined eligible for release in 2009 and 2010 by an Obama administration interagency review board, make up half of the current 155 detainees, and include former bin Laden bodyguards, terrorist recruiters and financiers, bomb makers and other radical Islamic militants.

While not every detainee has proved to be a threat to the United States, we know from U.S. intelligence authorities that nearly one-third of those released from Guantanamo, or about 200 men, have returned to terrorism.

The list of Gitmo alumni reads like a who’s who of terrorism. Saudi Arabia’s Said Al-Shihri became al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader in the Arabian Peninsula. Libya’s Sufian Bin Qumu was reportedly on the ground in Benghazi on the night of the U.S. Consulate attack and had trained Libyan militants in the fight to topple Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

Afghanistan’s Abdullah Gulam Rasoul rose up through the ranks to become the Taliban’s operational commander in the Kandahar area. Pakistan’s Abdullah Mehsud orchestrated a suicide attack on his nation’s minister of the interior. Kuwait’s Abdallah Saleh Al Ajmi became a suicide bomber, killing 13 in Mosul, Iraq.

Yet oddly enough, Mr. Obama is fighting hard to release more. He says he wants to “restore our values” and live by the “rule of law.” Meanwhile, he conveniently downplays the fact that we’re at war with a radical, religious-supremacist enemy that doesn’t play by the rules, is actively targeting Americans at home and overseas, and would kill millions of us if they could.

Releasing more al Qaeda, “and affiliates” to be precise enough for The New York Times, will result in more Americans being killed. Possibly thousands more. It is analogous to releasing Nazi SS members in 1943 in some misguided attempt to appease Adolf Hitler. Could we ever imagine FDR doing such a thing?

Regrettably, the waters have been so muddied by the international left’s propaganda campaign against U.S. power that many haven’t connected the dots on the shocking recklessness of Mr. Obama’s policies on both foreign policy and national security in places such as Iraq and Guantanamo.

Let’s hope that al Qaeda’s resurgence in Fallujah is a wake-up call for all Americans, regardless of political ideology, to start demanding greater accountability from Mr. Obama and Congress for our safety.

J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy commander and former Pentagon spokesman who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005 to 2009.

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