January 20, 2014

THE MONSTER THAT'S UNDER MY BED:

With al-Qaeda, what's in a name? (Dana Milbank, January 14, 2014, Washington Post)

[L]awrence Korb doesn't dispute that there are all kinds of groups that identify with al-Qaeda or are embraced by al-Qaeda, but of all the groups on Kagan's list Korb argues that only one, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, comes close to sharing al-Qaeda's reach and focus on attacking the United States.

"When you call someone al-Qaeda," Korb says, "it conjures up this international threat rather than people who are using the terrorist threat over there to accomplish local goals and who like to use 'al-Qaeda' because it's a chic name."

Calling a group "al-Qaeda" has a political benefit for President Obama's critics: It undermines the administration's assertion that it has destroyed al-Qaeda's capability. "Al-Qaeda is on the march," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said after the Benghazi attack in 2012.

But this supposed al-Qaeda group is Ansar al-Sharia, and even Kagan says "we do not assess that Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi is a formal affiliate of al-Qaeda." It may be, at most, linked to another group affiliated with al-Qaeda.

That this group killed the U.S. ambassador and three others in Benghazi makes it monstrous and dangerous. But calling it al-Qaeda doesn't make it so any more than calling it Chick-fil-A will make it serve tasty nuggets.
Posted by at January 20, 2014 7:15 PM
  
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