Tag Archives: al-Qaeda

Wow! We did learn this guy’s name

Eleven years ago, I posted an item about a seminal event in our ongoing war against international terrorism.

I wrote: I would pay serious money to shake the hand of the young man who took out bin Laden. But we’ll never know his name or see his face. Wow! What a turn of events.

Man, was I ever wrong about that, about not knowing “his name” or seeing “his face.”

Would I shake his hand now? No! Why? Because the special forces operator who claims to have fired the shot that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 violated what I always have understood be part of the Navy SEAL ethos, which is that no one should take individual credit for a mission that was executed by an entire team.

I won’t write this guy’s name here. He’s written a book about what he did and, I presume, made a ton of cash on his role on that mission.

I certainly want to offer a salute to our national security team for finding bin Laden, for working out the immense detail needed to accomplish the mission, for the incredible work that occurred during two presidential administrations since 9/11 to find this demon and for ridding the world of an existential menace.

Meanwhile, I will continue to scorn the nimrod who decided to make a spectacle of himself.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Fight goes on and on

Americans of all stripes, be they Republican or Democrat, today are cheering the death of the leader of the Islamic State at the hands of U.S. special forces.

The nation’s elite warriors stormed a compound in northern Syria, cornered the ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, who then blew himself up, killing himself and his wife, small children and others.

This raid, while spectacular in its execution and the success it achieved, does not signal the end of the Islamic State as a terrorist threat to this nation and others around the world.

“The fight against ISIS continues. Their leader may be gone, but their twisted ideology and their intent to kill, maim and terrorize still threaten our national security and the lives of countless innocents,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

So, the fight goes on. Still, it is heartening to know that this nation has the capability to bring a form of justice to murderous terrorists. We did so in May 2011 when SEALs killed al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and again in 2019 when our troops killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader in Iraq.

Joe Biden now becomes the third consecutive president — Barack Obama and Donald Trump were the other two — to order our men into harm’s way to protect us against the horror of international terrorism.

Well done, men … and thank you.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

B’bye, ISIS goon

Another Islamic State terrorist has been removed from this good Earth, courtesy of the work of U.S. special forces … to which I say, “Well done, men.”

President Biden issued the following statement overnight:

“Last night at my direction, U.S. military forces in northwest Syria successfully undertook a counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our Allies, and make the world a safer place,” Biden said in a statement.

“Thanks to the skill and bravery of our Armed Forces, we have taken off the battlefield Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi—the leader of ISIS. All Americans have returned safely from the operation,” Biden added.

What does this mean? Well, it doesn’t mean the destruction of ISIS. Just as we learned in May 2011 when our special forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the death of one man doesn’t necessarily eradicate the terrorist organization he led. The same likely will be said of al-Qurayshi’s death.

But to be absolutely certain, these successful missions can degrade the terrorist groups, making them less capable of planning and executing dastardly deeds against innocent victims.

As we have seen, though, in these operations, our special forces are the best on Earth at what they do.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Afghanistan: Will it get better?

A young friend of ours came over this afternoon to wish us a happy 50th anniversary.

We sat in the living room and he turned back to face me and asked: What do you think about Afghanistan?  He meant the withdrawal, of course, which he described as a “mess.”

I didn’t know quite how to respond. I did not — I do not still — want to offend our young neighbor; he is too sweet of a young man and I don’t want to end up on his “bad side.”

All I could come up with was that the commander in chief, President Biden, had no choice but to end a war that had dragged on for two decades. “To what end does he stay in the fight?” I asked. I reminded our young friend that we had fought there for more than two decades. Do they keep fighting?

My friend smiled. We both changed the subject.

The inglorious end to an inglorious war is bound to bring friends to a rhetorical dead end when the subject comes up. My young friend and I agreed that it will take time for this post-Afghan War period to sort itself out.

I will continue to hope for the best outcome, which I hope means we can keep our eyes and ears dialed in to the nth degree and listen and look for any signs of trouble from the Taliban or any terrorist organization that seeks to do us harm.

My hope, then, is that we keep the drones armed and ready to strike.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Political snipers taking pot shots

The political sniper squad is at it hot and heavy.

They are suggesting that President Biden will be a one-termer. That his “performance” in announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the Afghan field of battle has sealed his political fate. They suggest the voters have lost “confidence” in his leadership.

Hmm. Allow me this pithy response: Bullsh**!

The president ended an unwinnable war. Our armed forces executed the evacuation of more than 100,000 Americans and Afghan allies.

We fought al-Qaeda for two decades. We killed the monstrous mastermind behind the 9/11 attack — which is why we went to war in the first place. The Taliban had revived itself long before Joe Biden took office. President Biden’s predecessor negotiated a withdrawal with the Taliban; he set a May 1 evac date, but he lost re-election in November.

President Biden was dealt a bad hand when he took office. Dare I mention, too, that his predecessor provided him with zero national security intelligence because, um, he is continuing to insist that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him?

So, for the first time in two decades, we have no Americans on a battlefield anywhere on Earth.

I could swear as well that I heard President Biden declare his intention to hold the Taliban accountable for the pledges they made in ensuring safe passage for any American still in Afghanistan who wants out. I also heard him say our intelligence forces will be on the highest alert possible for any potential terror threat that may surface in Afghanistan … or anywhere else in the world.

Lost confidence? This drama has yet to play out fully.

We have a pandemic that well could be eliminated in the months ahead. And, oh yes, our economy continues to produce jobs at a record-breaking rate.

All that said, I am not going to join the amen chorus that suggests that Joe Biden tenure as president is toast.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Recalling an expert on Afghanistan

Charles Nesbitt Wilson’s name isn’t likely to pique many people’s interest.

If you say “Good Time Charlie,” or just plain ol’ “Charlie Wilson,” then we’re talking. I am thinking of Charlie Wilson today as the nation watches its longest war end in Afghanistan.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson was a Texas Democrat and a bona fide expert on Afghanistan, its politics, its people and its struggles against foreign powers. He died in February 2010 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

I knew Wilson because of my work from 1984 until 1995 as editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise. Wilson represented the Second Congressional District, which at the time included vast stretches of Deep East Texas territory where the newspaper circulated. Thus, he was one of our sources for issues relating to Congress. He and I knew each other well. I respected him greatly; I hope he thought well of the work I did on behalf of our readers.

Before he died, and before he retired from Congress in 1996, Wilson spent much of his career in public life seeking federal assistance to fighters seeking to rid themselves of Soviet domination of Afghanistan.

Wilson rode donkeys through the Khyber Pass with fighters who — regrettably — became the precursors to al-Qaeda. They were called the mujahadeen. They wrote a book and later produced a film called “Charlie Wilson’s War”; indeed, Wilson told me he was thrilled to be portrayed by Tom Hanks in the title role.

In the days after 9/11, I called Wilson at his East Texas home to get his reaction to what happened to us on that terrible day. We spoke for a long time over the phone and Wilson warned me at the time that we were in for the fight of our lives if we chose to go to war in Afghanistan. He knew of which he spoke. He sought congressional aid for the fighters doing battle against Soviet soldiers who invaded their country to prop up the Marxist government.

What might he say about the end of our war in Afghanistan? I am guessing he wouldn’t be shy about saying something like: I told you so. I told you it would be a hard fight. I told you that the Taliban wouldn’t just surrender and disappear from face of the planet.

Charlie Wilson wasn’t particularly bashful about imparting the knowledge he accrued over his years in Congress. I bear him no ill will. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, Rep. Wilson earned the right to rub our noses in it.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s over … finally!

Say whatever you wish about the end of the Afghan War.

That we can declare an end to our fighting there is in itself a moment worth saluting. Our longest war came to an end this morning when the last C-17 transport jet took off from Kabul airport, cleared Afghan air space and we declared an end to our evacuation of all U.S. citizens and allies who wanted out.

I have said since we went to war in Afghanistan 20 years ago that there could be no way for us to “declare victory” in the way we were able to do, say, at the end of World War II. Our military brass accepted the terms of surrender of enemy forces in 1945; the fighting stopped and we danced in the streets from coast to coast.

There would be no such celebration after the Korean War, certainly not after the Vietnam War, nor after this war.

Indeed, our war against terrorism is likely to persist, but without the hackneyed “boots on the ground” fighting a cunning enemy.

I will stand with President Biden’s decision to end this war. He knew what his three presidential predecessors — George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama and Donald J. Trump — couldn’t understand. It was time to end a war that had gone badly not long after it started in the wake of the 9/11 attack.

President Bush went to war after 9/11 intending to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban government. He succeeded. He vowed to get the men responsible for the attack on New York and Washington. That task fell eventually to Obama’s national security team that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Trump’s team got the leader of the Islamic State.

One thing remained constant. The Afghan War kept on going.

Joe Biden took over in January. He assessed the return on the investment we were getting in Afghanistan and determined it was time to end it. Now! So … he did.

Those who write the history of this big day will need time to evaluate all the nuance attached to it. I am going venture out on that limb and presume that history will look more kindly than President Biden’s critics are viewing this landmark day in real time.

It’s over. Thank God in heaven!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Did we not prep the Afghan army well?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As the world watches the Afghan War lurch forward to what looks like a tragic ending, I cannot get past a thought that has been troubling me since the Taliban began their march toward reasserting control over a country it ruled with ruthlessness and depravity.

My thought is this: What in the world did we do to prepare the Afghan armed forces to cope with the onslaught they are facing? 

We arrived on the battlefield not long after 9/11. President Bush ordered our forces into battle to rid the world of al-Qaeda. We succeeded in removing the Taliban from power then after the terror organization had given their fellow terrorists safe haven from which to attack the United States on 9/11.

President Bush left office in January 2009 and President Obama then ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda mastermind; the SEALs and CIA operatives did the deed on May 1,, 2011.

President Obama left office in January 2017 and Donald J. Trump took over. The fight continued.

Trump left office in January 2021 and now we have President Biden on the watch. Through all those previous administrations, there had been an understanding — or so many of us believed — that our forces were on call to do two things: to engage the enemy on the field and to train and equip the Afghans to take over the fight when we were finished.

Biden adds forces for Afghan evacuation, defends withdrawal decision (msn.com)

President Biden made the call to end our involvement there. We began pulling troops out. The Taliban went on the march. The Afghan military has done a terrible job of defending their country. Reports from the field suggest that regular army troops aren’t fighting, that the bulk of the resistance is coming from militia forces.

We spent tens of billions of dollars training these forces to do something that was expected of them. To defend their nation against a savage enemy. They appear to be failing in that mission.

Do we return in full force? No! We must not! I happen to endorse the decision to leave the Afghanistan battlefield. I am aghast at the slipshod way it is occurring. President Biden is deploying 5,000 additional U.S. troops to assist in the evacuation of Americans and our allies, to get out of harm’s way.

But … my goodness. I am troubled by the lack of effort reportedly being shown by the armed forces we supposedly prepared to defend their nation.

I want our young men and women to come home as much as the next person. However, it saddens me terribly to believe we spent two decades fighting and dying for a nation that is unable — or unwilling — to defend itself.

How can we declare victory?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Twenty years ago, the United States decided to retaliate against the monsters who attacked us on 9/11.

I recall asking back then: How will we be able to know when to end this war against international terrorism? I also wondered how we can declare victory in a war that might seem to have no end.

Well, one aspect of that war is coming to a conclusion. President Biden has ordered all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, which had given safe haven to the terrorists who hit us on 9/11.

My questions remain the same today as they were when I posed them back in 2001. President Biden has made what amounts to an executive decision. The time has come, he said, to end the war. How does he know that? Well, he hasn’t explained that to us in terms that I have heard.

As for a victory declaration … there won’t be anything of the sort. We will see no “Mission Accomplished” banner hanging across the White House portico.

Indeed, the decision carries plenty of risk. The Taliban are on the march in Afghanistan. The future of women and children in that country now become tenuous. Biden’s predecessor as POTUS sought to negotiate with the terrorists; it didn’t go well for either side.

To be honest, it has been a haphazard withdrawal. There is no clear plan to offer safety for the thousands of contractors who worked with our forces during the Afghan War. I will retain plenty of hope that the president will come up with a plan to provide refuge for the translators and others who assisted our men and women on the battlefield.

However, a war against international terror cannot possibly signal that we have defeated the terrorists, that we have eliminated the threat. Indeed, the threat was always there, always lurking just below the surface, just beyond our consciousness.

It will be there even as we exit the field of battle in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden mission needed time

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Americans are going to be marking a date over the weekend that should fill them with justifiable pride in the capabilities of our military special forces.

It was on May 1, 2011 that Navy SEALs and CIA commandos raided a compound in Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda and the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attack that had occurred a decade earlier.

Ten years have passed since that raid.

I want to talk briefly here about something that flew out of Donald Trump’s mouth not long after Army Special Forces killed the Islamic State leader on Trump’s watch.

The then-president suggested out loud that the bin Laden raid should have occurred far earlier than it did. Trump was crowing about the success his team had in finding Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and dispatching him. Why couldn’t the Special Forces Command do the same with bin Laden, Trump said.

The military commander of that mission was Admiral William McRaven, himself a SEAL and head of the Special Ops Command. It took McRaven’s team time to assemble and analyze all the intelligence it had collected on bin Laden’s location. Indeed, as President Obama said at the time, he wasn’t absolutely sure that bin Laden would be in the compound once the SEALs and the CIA spooks arrived. It was a gamble … but it paid off!

Thus, for Trump to denigrate the great work that anti-terrorism experts from the Bush and Obama administrations did to locate and to ascertain with some degree of certainty that their findings were correct simply went beyond the pale.

I am going to celebrate the victory our forces scored when they eliminated Osama bin Laden. No amount of cheap second-guessing ever would denigrate the courage of the commander in chief to issue the order and the extraordinary skill of the men who executed it.