Washington Needs to Do a Better Job Explaining Its War on al-Qaeda to the American People

Dec. 24 2021

A few days ago, the New York Times published a report, based on hundreds of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, detailing civilian casualties from U.S. drone and missile strikes in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Writing shortly before Times’s report appeared, Thomas Joscelyn addressed the case of a December 3 drone attack in Syria on a man in motorcycle; a family of six that happened to be driving by were injured along with the target. The problem, in Joscelyn’s evaluation, isn’t just one of intelligence and targeting, but also of messaging:

The U.S. military has hunted senior al-Qaeda personnel in Syria for years, but often provides few details concerning those targeted. This is a problem. Civilians are being killed in U.S. drone strikes in Syria and elsewhere, but the U.S. government often does not provide clear justifications for those bombings in the first place. Sometimes it is clear why an al-Qaeda figure was targeted. On other occasions, however, it isn’t obvious at all.

The December 3 air strike is a case in point. During a press briefing on December 6, the Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby explained that the target was a man known as Musab Kinan and he was “a senior leader with Hurras al-Din, which is an al-Qaeda affiliated group.”

Hurras al-Din (HAD), meaning the “Guardians of Religion,” is indeed an al-Qaeda group. HAD openly signals its loyalty to al-Qaeda’s top men in its media and messaging. And while Kinan was an obscure figure and previously unknown to the public, other HAD leaders are well-known al-Qaeda veterans. . . . HAD is thought to have a few thousand members in Syria.

Why did Kinan command the U.S. government’s attention? We don’t know. Beyond his alleged role within HAD, the U.S. military hasn’t offered any details concerning his activities. Did he specifically threaten the U.S. or American interests in some fashion? Again, we don’t know. And this isn’t the first time the U.S. has offered little information about a target in Syria or elsewhere. The U.S. government does an exceptionally poor job of explaining al-Qaeda to the public.

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Read more at FDD

More about: Al Qaeda, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism