News / USA

US Congressional Panel Examines Terrorism Threat Posed by Libya, Mideast Unrest

US Congressional Panel Examines Terrorism Threat Posed by Libya, Mideast Unrest
US Congressional Panel Examines Terrorism Threat Posed by Libya, Mideast Unrest

A U.S. congressional panel has examined the threat posed to U.S. national security by the current unrest in a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East.  Several security experts told a House Homeland Security subcommittee Wednesday  that the al-Qaida terrorist group and its affiliates have been "irrelevant" in the wave of popular uprisings in the region, and that the United States needs to back the young people who are taking to the streets for democratic change.  

The Chairman of the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee, Republican Congressman Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania said he welcomes the positive changes in Egypt and Tunisia, but he is worried that the unrest across the Middle East and North Africa could have ramifications for U.S. homeland security.  He said there were credible reports from Egypt, for example, that prisons were emptied and that a number of jailed Islamist radicals are now free.

"Quite simply hundreds of radicalized Islamists on the loose throughout the Middle East and North Africa is dangerous," Meehan said.

The ranking member of the panel, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California said that it is time for the United States to re-evaluate its long-standing relationships in the region, pointing out that Egypt and Tunisia have disbanded their long-feared state security forces.  

"For the first time in decades, relationships that we have relied on in the fight against terrorism are changing," she said.  "And in some cases we have to work with new partners who will not necessarily respect past security agreements and practices."

Speier said that the United States must learn more about who the rebels in Libya are, but she also stressed that Washington must make sure it supports the democratic ambitions of the people in the region.

All of the experts testifying at the hearing agreed that the United States has long supported goverments in the Middle East that appeared stable and friendly to U.S. interests, but were undemocratic.

Brian Katulis, a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress research group, put it like this.

"For decades we have been addicted to dictators," he said. "And it is like our addiction to foreign oil that a lot of people talk about.  We know it is bad for us, we know we need to move beyond it, we simply have not yet figured out how to move beyond it."

Katulis said the wave of unrest presents an opportunity for the United States to embrace a new generation of leaders, and that they should not be overly concerned about the influence of al-Qaida. Katulis and the other experts at the hearing agreed that up until now, al-Qaida has not played a real role in the wave of protests.

"Al-Qaida to date has been irrelevant in the popular uprisings and has been left behind," he said.

Philip Mudd of the New America Foundation said he believes al-Qaida has been hurt badly since their successful September 11th, 2001 attacks on the United States.  He said they hurt themselves by killing two many innocents.  And he said, if dictators continue to fall in North Africa and the Middle East, al-Qaida will lose the powerful recruiting tool of asking young people to join to fight scorrupt governments.  Mudd said the United States should engage with and provide aid to the new governments emerging in the Middle East and North Africa as long as they embrace non-violence and the rule of law.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More