Kerry: 'Al-Qaida Leadership is More Capable of Attacking Today' than on 9/11

     Al-Qaida poses a bigger threat to the United States today than it did on Sept. 11, 2001, and the only way to prevent more attacks is to spend money on non-military international aid, according a July 31 speech by one-time presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

     “[T]he statistics tell the story. And as John Adams reminded us, facts are stubborn things. Today, terrorist attacks are at historic highs. The al-Qaida leadership is reconstituting along the Afghan-Pakistan border,” said Kerry at the Center for American Progress. “The al-Qaida leadership is more capable of attacking today than they were on September 11 of 2001. The Taliban is resurgent. Hamas is tightening its grip on Gaza and Hezbollah is running a state within a state.”

     A 2007 report from the State Department suggested that al-Qaida had reconstituted only “some of its pre-9/11 operational capabilities,” but that there had been and increase in deaths and injuries as a result of terrorism. Dell Dailey, coordinator of the Office for Counterterrorism attributed that increase to more frequent use of suicide bombers.


     Kerry used the Washington, D.C. speech to unveil what he called a “new approach” to fighting terrorism. The approach amounted to $7.5 billion in expenditures on non-military aid over five years to support Pakistan, a U.S. ally in the war on terror.

    “[W]e must make better use of our foreign aid to improve our standing with the Pakistani people,” Kerry said. “We’ve tried to do this now with a bill that we just passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. And it is a bill to provide a sustained commitment to dramatically increase non-military assistance – $7.5 billion over five years. And we want to ensure that it goes directly to the people, while ensuring that we get what we pay for in terms of military assistance.”

     The end result of winning the “war of ideas,” as Kerry labeled it, would improve the United States’ standing in the world and put the country in a better position to solve problems ranging from global climate change to the AIDS epidemic.

     “So looking at all these conflicts, the big picture is this – focusing on winning a war of ideas as opposed to just killing terrorists, will not only enable us to defeat our enemies, it will restore our ability to have a positive impact on change in other areas,” Kerry said.

     “All of these things are connected,” according to Kerry. “[G]lobal climate change, AIDS, the efforts with respect to failed states, counter-narcotics efforts, consistency on human rights and understanding and defining the real relationship with the nation of Islam (sic) and our leadership role with respect to our values.”

     The issue of a potential terrorist attack recently generated criticism of Sen. John McCain’s campaign. The Republican presidential candidate’s adviser Charlie Black told Fortune magazine a terrorist attack would be of “a big advantage” to McCain in the presidential elections in a story published on June 28, some media and Obama surrogates were critical.

     “Well, I mean it’s just a breathtakingly stupid thing to say,” CNN’s Jack Cafferty said on the June 23 “The Situation Room. “However, it’s probably true. And in the twisted logic of politics, John McCain is perceived as the guy who is more capable of handling the war on terror. So it's probably true. But you just don’t say stuff like that in polite company – not that we're polite company, but we’re company and you don’t talk that way to us.”

     Even Obama, himself, told Iowa caucus voters to reject “the politics of fear” in a speech in late December. Kerry formally endorsed Obama in a speech shortly after the Iowa caucuses on January 10 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.