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Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America's War on Terror - by Senator Bob Graham & Jeff Nussbaum, Random House, 2004
The bombing in Spain served as brutal evidence of al-Qaeda's regeneration. What is important to note is that there didn't have to be a resurgence at all. While America was waging war in Afghanistan, we had al-Qaeda on the run. During the seven months between September 11, 2001, and April 11,2002, al-Qaeda did not manage one successful terrorist attack. Not one. Between the time of my discussion with General Tommy Franks in February 2002 about our resources being drawn away from Afghanistan and the beginning of the public buildup to the war in Iraq in August 2002, al-Qaeda pulled off just two small terrorist attacks, one in Tunisia and one in Pakistan. Remembering what General Franks told me at Central Command, that means that in the time that America was fully committed to the war on terror, and not devoting resources, energy, or focus to Iraq, al-Qaeda was rendered harmless.
Then, once America turned to Iraq, al-Qaeda was able to regroup, refocus, and begin carrying out attacks again. From September 2002 until the train bombings in Spain in 2004, al-Qaeda carried out twelve attacks that took, in all, more than 600 lives. The deadliest was the bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed 202 people. Overall, the number of al-Qaeda attacks more than doubled in the last three months of 2002 from all of 2001, and then doubled again over the course of 2003.
On March 1,2003, when George Bush stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Ahraham Lincoln and declared that "the battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001," he was not just wrong, he was 180 degrees wrong. At best, the war in Iraq distracted from the war on terror. At worst, it set us back significantly. John Adams once said, "Facts are stubborn things." The facts behind al-Qaeda's resurgence tell the story. We let them off the hook. That is the fact.
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