Terrorism was clearly trending down globally as President Barack Obama took office, according to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database. But that desirable trend has reversed, and nowhere is the upswing in terror activity more glaring than here in the American homeland.
(Article by Jim Demint)
Since Sept. 11, 2001, at least 89 Islamist-related terrorist plots have been aimed at U.S. soil, according to a database maintained by the Heritage Foundation.
And both the number and frequency of plots have dramatically increased on Obama’s watch. Of the 89 plots, only 30 percent occurred in the Bush era (2001-2008). Fully 70 percent emerged under Obama, and the pace is quickening. Twenty-five plots have been uncovered since the start of last year. And terrorists have launched five successful attacks since July 2015.
While plots are proliferating, there is less diversity in who is behind them. Of the 25 most recent plots, 21 are connected to the Islamic State. And unlike the 9/11 attacks — organized from abroad and conducted by foreigners — the vast majority of plotters are now being recruited and inspired right here in the homeland. Seventy-eight of the post 9/11 plots involved a homegrown element.
Of course, no one is to blame for terrorism other than the terrorists. The growth of the terrorist threat is largely attributable to deteriorating stability in the Middle East arising from post-Arab Spring economic and political chaos, a deepening Sunni-Shiite divide, and constant meddling by Iran. Yet the dramatic uptick and transformation of the threat also can be traced at least partly to a gap created by the Obama administration — a gap that the terrorists were only too happy to fill.
In 2011, the administration published its new counterterrorism strategy. The guidelines reflected changes the president had implemented at least a year earlier. The strategy was clear: Obama looked to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and to de-emphasize most aspects of the global war on terror except for drone and special operations focused on coreal-Qaida leadership.
The decision to “lead from behind” for most of the war on terror helped create massive new space for terrorism activity. In addition to the botched withdrawal from Iraq, the absence of a post-conflict counterterrorism plan in Libya (following the 2011 ouster of Moammar Gadhafi) opened the gates to a dramatic expansion of Islamist terrorist activity throughout North Africa.