The "breaking news" this past weekend was the Obama Administration's "revelation" that the Times Square terror plot was rooted in Islamist terrorism, specifically the Pakistani Taliban. Really!
I guess that's news if you think that an airport employee in Colorado planning on bombing the New York subway system had only a passing connection to al-Qaeda. Or if you think the Chicago man connected to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India is some odd twist to that rampage. Or if you think that Major Hasan Nidal was communicating with New Mexico-born, Yemeni-based militant cleric Ayman al-Awlaki for "research."
But if you view these assaults on civilization as part of a global, Islamist, jihadist movement, little was new. No, would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad wasn't a "lone-wolf" or "one-off," as we were originally led to believe by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. For a few days last week, the mainstream media was putting just as much emphasis on his foreclosed house as his extensive stays in Pakistan. They would have you believe, as columnist Mark Steyn put it, that "subprime terrorism is a far greater threat to America than anything to do with certain words beginning with I- and ending in --slam."
Militant Islam, united by ideology, doctrine, and practice, draws adherents from Africa to Southeast Asia, from the Middle East to the Caucasus. I've seen the roots of this movement spread and gain hold in Britain, Nigeria, Yemen and elsewhere. But nowhere is like Pakistan. The news isn't militancy in Pakistan. It's how bad it's getting. Seventy percent of the terror plots uncovered in Britain are traced to Pakistan.
Just as the Times Square bomb was fizzling out, I arrived in Pakistan with a congressional delegation. In Islamabad, I read a revealing newspaper editorial on an unprecedented meeting of 150 leaders of the Deobandi Sunni sect of Islam. The meeting was arranged in the hope of getting religious, educational and political leaders to speak with one voice to condemn suicide bombings. They wouldn't do it. The editorial concluded: "unless this infrastructure of hate is shut down Pakistan will never win its struggle for internal peace." As on past visits, I heard how Pakistan's traditional form of Sufi Islam was under attack from hard-line clerics of the Deobandi movement. I met with two Sufi leaders who had come under attack. One was in a full body brace and the other had been shot.
Six years ago, the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission found, "The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is...the threat posed by Islamist terrorism - especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology." This threat has only grown since, but these words are barely spoken. Islamist terrorism is the not so hidden hand behind terrorist plots worldwide -- we can either confront it, or ignore it at our peril.