Strikes on Terror Cells Don't Stop Terror Plots, Say Intelligence Officials


U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt

A new article from the Associated Press quotes U.S. intelligence officials unknowingly acknowledging a fatal flaw in Obama's anti-terrorism strategy.

Reporting on a "barrage" of missile strikes against an Al-Qaida affiliated group in Syria known as the Khorasan Group, the article presents a string of comments from intelligence officials on the effectiveness of the strikes.

From ABC News:

"The strikes were certainly effective in setting back the Khorasan Group, but no one thinks they were a permanent solution or a death blow to the threats that come from this cell," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who serves on the House Intelligence Committee…

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the strikes disrupted the group's plotting, but he did not know for how long. FBI Director James Comey said he believed the plots had not been disrupted and that the group remains a threat to the U.S. Other intelligence officials embraced Comey's view.

What this shows is a clear consensus that the strikes have likely done little more than delay the group's activities. However, bombing also has unintended consequences, which the article acknowledges—namely the loss of innocent life:

One of the U.S. missiles went awry and killed a dozen civilians in the village of Kfar Derian, according to Mohammed Abu Omar, an activist in the northern province of Idlib.

This highlights the central problem with the Obama administration's strategy in the war on terror. Relentless bombing campaigns can only ever disrupt the activities of terror groups. They cannot counter the existence of terrorist organizations and cannot stop them from plotting attacks.

Furthermore, any progress that is made in the short term is likely to be undermined by the inevitable civilian causalities that accompany such a strategy. These casualties increase hostility toward the U.S. and its allies, creating a fertile recruiting ground for terrorist organizations to replenish their ranks and expand their supporter base. If the U.S. is to avoid Orwellian style perpetual war, it needs to find a way to combat terrorism without increasing anti-U.S. sentiments.

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  1. Strikes on wedding parties don’t stop marriages, either. What’s up with that?

  2. I love it – when infidel-beheading terrorists (who deliberately hide in civilian populations) claim that we are causing civilian casualties with our predator strikes the American media blindly regurgitates it as the God’s honest truth to a gullible public. Please… the guys who target these barbarous pieces of shit are very good and don’t want to kill civilians or kids and there are NUMEROUS ROEs that we have to satisfy to even take a shot at one of these dirtbags. Do not believe the bullshit – drone strikes really DO deter terrorists. Namely, by killing them…

    1. The person who pulls the trigger owns it, good or bad. A would-be terrorist on a school-bus isn’t a child killer because a drone struck the bus, that would be the government’s policy of wantonly disregarding principles of justice.

      1. Fine. I agree. I especially agree with personal responsibility in military matters, right down to the level of the individual infantryman. Just make sure those bodycounts that the Taliban, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Haqqani Network, et al, feed to the western media looking for a story are believable (hint: THEY AREN’T!!)

      2. WRONG. The person who initiated aggression owns it i.e. ISIS. All the people killed at Nagasaki are on the Japanese government.

  3. 1) There is nothing in the quoted text to substantiate the title of this piece.

    2) The statement: ny progress that is made in the short term is likely to be undermined by the inevitable civilian causalities that accompany such a strategy. These casualties increase hostility toward the U.S. and its allies is 100% unfalsifiable, unsupported bullshit.

    1. I don’t know if it’s “unfalsifiable,” but it’s quite obviously verifiable.


  4. The strikes are for domestic political objectives, not geopolitical ones.

  5. It’s utter stupidity to say air strikes which actually kill terrorists do not disrupt plans.

    Like any organization, losing key members is not a trivial problem with any resolution which ends in only delaying all prior plans.

    That’s only on factor to consider; others certainly exist, including civilian casualties which can create hostility and potentially more enemies, not to mention whether it’s in the strategic interests of the US.

    And of course there’s also the accuracy of our intel – if all our targets are mostly low value or mostly civilian, then you lose any positives.

    IE – directed and accurate air strikes which kill high value/key terrorists will damage any terrorist organization over the long term, but I doubt any of this is in the US’s strategic interests and highly doubt the intel community’s accuracy would be high enough to make targeted strikes effective.

  6. Why would a website called “Reason” even print this tripe? What’s your alternative plan–not kill the bad guys?

    Utter stupidity. Keep killing these jerks until they run out of replacements at the jihadi factory. You think we worried about causing the civilian population of Germany & Japan to hate us while we were winning those wars by indiscriminate carpet bombing?

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