Sunday, October 18, 2015

Qaeda Cell Leader Killed in Airstrike in Syria, Pentagon Says

On October 15, a US airstrike in Syria killed Al Quaeda cell leader Sanafi al-Nasr. He was the highest-ranking leader of the Khorasan Group (learn more about them here: BBC Khorasan Group) which had been plotting attacks against the United States and Europe. He was also experienced in retrieving money and fighters for Al Qaeda.

American officials describe the operation as a drone strike which was used to prevent confrontation with Russian planes. The Pentagon claims that Al-Nasr is the fifth Khorasan leader to be killed by the US in four months. The US believes that the Khorasan group is the most capable of hurting American civilians and should be most intently focused on in order to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

People are debating about the effectiveness of the "decapitation strategy" which is when a terrorist group's leaders are killed. Some believe that by causing the fear of strikes, these terrorist groups will not meet as often or as openly and therefore make it harder to find them. They also believe that the decapitation approach causes terrorist group's to prepare for strikes and thus prepare deputies to succeed the deaths of their leaders. This makes the airstrikes rather ineffective.

How should the US be attacking these terrorist groups? Are airstrikes/decapitation strategy the most effective way of doing so? Does it make sense to fight violence with violence, and when does this cycle end? Should the US government heighten national security? Should there be something like the War Powers Act for these attacks that aren't considered war (or should the War Powers Act apply to this)? Ever since 9/11, how has the amount of federal government control changed and developed?

NY Times
Wall Street Journal


kristen said...

American's foreign policy I believe needs to continue to aggresively pursue and eliminate terrorist leaderships even when this means continuing and sometimes never ending "war" fought overseas in unstable and historically complicated regions of the world, the Middle East. The problem that needs to be dealth with is severe as these terrorist groups do not just have a specific political, economical and existential mandate but they want to kill Americans, whether overseas or in our own country. No amount of dealing can be approriated with trust with these groups as a result. If they are allowed to exist in a country (e.g., the Taliban in Afghanistan) they simply created an environment that supports the cultivation of further hate towards Americans and Western Civilizations in general. A policy of negotiation or patience does not work with the groups that simply want to harm you. You must defend yourselves by eliminating the threats. Protecting American soil isn't adequate because we live in an open, global and hyper-connected world. Since 9/11, the US Government had been busily enacting homeland protections even at the expense of some personal freedom, from further terrorist attacks. I believe this must also continue to provide safety in our own home.

Meghan Hilbert said...

America has an international reputation as being an intelligent and powerful country. They have proven that by finding and killing Osama, opening themselves as a refugee for the Middle East, and many other events including war. In order to keep that reputation, they need to continue it. Airstrikes and decapitation strategies have clearly shown that they work well with the American defense system, so why quit? Obviously, fighting is not good, but the mentality of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Isis show no intelligence or pure war strategies; they're out to kill. American cannot negotiate with them, so in order for them to get a message across to the Middle East as to how they view these horrific events, they need to show it. I don't think there should be new acts like the War Powers Act to deal with these situations, they seem to be working well and accomplishing just as the article stated.

Monica Mai said...

I strongly believe in Gandhi's saying, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Fighting violence with violence will further perpetuate the cycle of revenge, breeding nothing but hatred between the US and some of the Middle East. As horrendous and unrepresentative of the Muslims' beliefs Al Qaeda is, the decapitation strategy should be stopped. It's not effetive if it raises the possibility of making it harder to find them. Instead, we should focus on defense and taking out Al Qaeda through a different means. There's no war that can stop all wars, and in a perfect world, negotiation and compassion would take down the threat of Al Qaeda. I think the War Powers Act should continue to apply to situations like this.

Lea Tan said...

I think Monica makes a really good point by bringing up Gandhi's quote. We won't solve anything by continuing to fight and fight because the violence only continues to anger both parties involved in the conflict. However, like Meghan said, the airstrikes do seem to be effective in capturing Al Quaeda leaders that might not otherwise be found. I'm not sure how much of an impact such losses have on Al Quaeda as a whole, though. By bringing down one leader at a time, I doubt the US can make much progress in fighting the terrorist groups because they can easily rack up ranks to take the places of old leaders in the amount of time it takes us to find them.