By Daniel Benjamin, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Video: http://www.brookings.edu/events/2012/12/18-global-counterterrorism#ref-id=20121218_benjamin (click-on video)
Speaking before a friendly, "former home" Brookings Institution audience on 18 December, Daniel Benjamin, State Dept Coordinator for Counterterrorism, offered a review-the-bidding account of the past four years.
Unsurprisingly Benjamin presented a spectrum of successes: killing bin-Laden "was the most important milestone in the fight against al-Qaida;" killing 20 of the (always changing) top 30 al-Qaida leaders was another positive; beating down al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula is "work in progress, but the trend lines are positive;" and with coordinated Somali, African, and Western assistance, al-Shabaab was expelled from southern Somali cities; it is now fragmented by dissension and much weakened.
But the hydra always has more heads, and Benjamin noted emerging problems from al-Qaida metastatic offshoots in Mali, Libya, and Syria as well as Iranian/Hezbollah terrorist sponsorship.
Benjamin detailed the three pronged U.S. strategy: capacity building; strengthened counter violence capacity; and effective diplomacy. In his view, creating a Counterterrorism bureau at State was an invaluable administrative/strategic...