A few hours before midnight in Iraq as September 11 approached, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad posted an "Emergency Message" warning "U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq." Although the notice referenced the anniversary of 9/11, the main reason for the warning is apparent threats against U.S. interests and workers in Iraq due to the potential U.S. military action against Syria:
Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq. Due to heightened safety and security risks and the ongoing threat of terrorist activities throughout Iraq, the U.S. government remains highly concerned about the danger to U.S. citizens, whether visiting or residing in Iraq, and to U.S. facilities and businesses. Threats against U.S. interests, U.S. assets, and foreign companies employing U.S. personnel in Iraq have been reported, related to a possible U.S. military strike on Syria.
On the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the need for caution and awareness of personal security. U.S. citizens in Iraq should avoid areas where large gatherings may occur. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.
Just a few days ago, the FBI and Homeland Security reported no credible threats related to the upcoming anniversary, according to Fox News. Tuesday's embassy warning did not give any further detail of the threats in Iraq. The latest travel warning on the Iraq page of the main State Department travel website is from September 5 and does not include the reference to Syria.
Are we watching the demise of al Qaeda or its rebirth?
A bracing new piece in the Daily Beast makes a persuasive case that it’s the latter -- that recent developments in Iraq, across the greater Middle East and South Asia point to a resurgence of al Qaeda and a strengthening of its affiliates.
Al Qaeda’s jailbreaks have been an all too common occurrence in the post-9/11 world. And they have directly fueled the fight. Chances are the massive jailbreak in Iraq this week will cause significant problems for the U.S. and its allies down the road. History tells us as much. There are numerous examples of once-detained al Qaeda operatives rejoining the terror network. Consider just two examples.
Hundreds of convicts, including senior members of al Qaeda, broke out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail as comrades launched a military-style assault to free them, authorities said on Monday.
The deadly raid on the high-security jail happened as Sunni Muslim militants are gaining momentum in their insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government that came to power after the U.S. invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Sectarian war has reignited in Iraq. Iranian-backed Shia militias have remobilized, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is conducting an intensive and escalating campaign of spectacular attacks against Shia targets, and some of the former Baathist insurgents are staging an effective campaign against the Iraqi Security Forces in the vicinity of Mosul.
When Edward Snowden decided he wanted to release details about the NSA's intelligence operations to the public, he reached out to Laura Poitras, a 49-year-old film maker and political activist opposed to the war on terror.
In a speech at the National Defense University on May 23, Barack Obama declared an end to the global war on terror. The threat posed by al Qaeda, its affiliates, and those it inspires can be managed, he said. “As we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11. . . . [I]f dealt with smartly and proportionally, these threats need not rise to the level that we saw on the eve of 9/11.”
Ten years ago today, the day Baghdad fell to American troops, I wrote that with the downfall of Saddam Hussein, I finally felt free as a journalist to criticize the Iraqi regime under my own byline without fear of reprisal from Saddam’s henchmen in Beirut, where I then lived.