Today marks the 16th anniversary of al-Qaida’s 9/11 attacks. We learned much that tragic day, at enormous human and material cost. Perilously, however, America has already forgotten many of Sept. 11’s lessons.
The radical Islamicist ideology manifested that day has neither receded nor “moderated” as many naive Westerners predicted. Neither has the ideology’s hatred for America or its inclination to conduct terrorist attacks. Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution brought radical Islam to the contemporary world’s attention, and it is no less malevolent today than when it seized our Tehran embassy, holding U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days.
The Taliban, which provided al-Qaida sanctuary to prepare the 9/11 attacks, threaten to retake control in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida persists and may even be growing worldwide.
While ISIS’s caliphate in Syria and Iraq will not survive much longer, countries across North Africa and the Middle East (“MENA”) have destabilized or fractured entirely. Syria and Iraq have ceased to exist functionally, and Libya, Somalia and Yemen have descended into chaos. Pakistan, an unstable nuclear-weapons state, could fall to radicals under many easily predictable scenarios.
The terrorist threat is compounded by nuclear proliferation. Pakistan has scores of nuclear weapons, and Iran’s program continues unhindered. North Korea has now conducted its sixth, and likely thermonuclear, nuclear test, and its ballistic missiles are near to being able to hit targets across the continental United States. Pyongyang leads the rogue’s gallery of would-be nuclear powers, and is perfectly capable of selling its technologies and weapons to anyone with hard currency.