Secure Freedom Radio Podcast

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Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt

October 26th, 2011

Is the Obama administration facing a very different al Qaeda from the one that instigated the September 11th attacks? Additionally, do former President Bush’s and current President Obama’s campaign against terrorism share a similar focus: al Qaeda? Co-authors of the book, “Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda,” Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt join Frank for a full hour today discussing the new challenges that the US faces in combating terrorist networks. Various US government officials are working on countering al Qaeda’s ideology and narrative, rather than merely killing its leaders through drone strikes. How does the government expect to destroy the root of Islamist ideology at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to talk about it without being labeled Islamophobic?

Since the rise of al Qaeda and other extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, both the Obama and Bush administrations have confronted a countermeasure campaign where the West is seen to be at war with Islam. How does the US without merely polishing its image go about combating such campaigns? How can we win in a region where the US has little credibility? Shanker and Schmitt argue that the leaders of the Free World need to expose the true actions of al Qaeda and demonstrate that their murderous actions cannot make them “the righteous ones.”

What motives nations, companies, and even some charities to finance terrorist activates? Moreover, are these financiers susceptible to traditional threats? According to “Counterstrike,” because some financiers are not ready to make the ultimate sacrifice, sophisticated threats can be used to deter their actions. Will such methods ultimately discourage routing funds from companies and charities to support terrorist groups?

From Today’s Show Prep:

Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda

In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the United States waged a “war on terror” that sought to defeat Al Qaeda through brute force. But it soon became clear that this strategy was not working, and by 2005 the Pentagon began looking for a new way. In Counterstrike, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of The New York Times tell the story of how a group of analysts within the military, at spy agencies, and in law enforcement has fashioned an innovative and effective new strategy to fight terrorism, unbeknownst to most Americans and in sharp contrast to the cowboy slogans that characterized the U.S. government’s public posture. Adapting themes from classic Cold War deterrence theory, these strategists have expanded the field of battle in order to disrupt jihadist networks in ever more creative ways.