Survey: Veterans say Afghanistan, Iraq wars not worth it
US Marines on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan Photo From: AFP/Getty Images
October 5th, 2011
02:37 PM ET

Survey: Veterans say Afghanistan, Iraq wars not worth it

By CNN's Moni Basu

America's veterans are proud of their military service, but in a new report published Wednesday, they expressed ambivalence about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a new Pew Research Center report on war and sacrifice, half of post-9/11 veterans said the Afghanistan war has been worth fighting. Only 44% felt that way about Iraq, and one-third said both wars were worth the costs.

Some of those costs were outlined in the Pew study, which comes out as the United States marks the 10th anniversary Friday of the Afghanistan conflict, the longest-running war in the nation's history.

For instance, four of every 10 veterans reported they had difficulties adjusting back to life at home after the combat zone, and 37% said they suffered from post-traumatic stress, even though they might not have been formally diagnosed as such.

"The ambivalence that many post-9/11 veterans feel about their military mission has a parallel in the mixture of benefits and burdens they report having experienced since their return to civilian life," the report said.

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Filed under: 10 years of war • 9/11 • Afghanistan • Foreign Policy • Iraq • Military • Pentagon
October 5th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

10 years of war: The battle of Tora Bora - missed opportunity?

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

Editor's note: This is the third of a five-part series on key moments from U.S. combat in Afghanistan. Part 1 and Part 2 were published earlier this week; parts 4 and 5 will be published later this week.

Four months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden was the world's most wanted man, and many thought he was hiding in some of the most remote, impenetrable mountains in the world.

But the battle of Tora Bora, fought in those mountains, holds one of the mysteries of the 10-year war in Afghanistan that may never be solved: did the United States miss a chance to kill bin Laden and cripple al Qaeda nearly 10 years sooner than his actual death earlier this year?

This much is clear: In late November 2001, al Qaeda fighters had fled to the mountains in eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border as U.S. forces with their Northern Alliance allies who opposed the Taliban government worked to thwart the Taliban and its terrorist cohorts.
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Al-Shabaab – A Looming Threat
Somali soldiers fire during fierce fighting with al Shabaab forces Photo From: AFP/Getty Images
October 5th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Al-Shabaab – A Looming Threat

By Paul Cruickshank, CNN Terrorism Analyst

The assassin was dropped off into the bitter cold by a taxi near the home of his target in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city. His task for the night of January 1, 2010 was simple: kill Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist responsible in 2005 for a controversial depiction of the Prophet Mohammed. Armed with an ax and a knife, the would-be killer approached the front door and shattered the glass, setting off an alarm which alerted Westergaard and police to the intrusion. Westergaard grabbed his five-year-old granddaughter and rushed with her to a specially built safe room before the killer could reach them. When the police arrived minutes later the assassin lunged at them with his weapons but they managed to overpower him by firing shots into his left hand and right leg and then took him into custody.

The man they arrested - Mohamed Geele, 28, a Somali who first moved to Denmark in 1995 and who this February was convicted of the attack - was no amateur homegrown terrorist. He had already been under observation for an extended period of time by Danish security services because of his suspected close links to the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab. Even though the Somali group distanced itself from the attack in the hours after the attack, Danish investigators established that Geele had close ties to Al-Shabaab and senior al Qaeda leaders in east Africa, and had emerged as a hard-nosed player in the group during time he spent in Kenya in the 2000s.

The investigation indicated that what Western counter-terrorism officials had long feared had indeed become a reality. The Somali militant group – in control of more than half the war-torn east African country – had embraced al Qaeda's global Jihad and was now actively plotting attacks in the West.

Swedish authorities are investigating whether Al-Shabaab had any connection to four men arrested in Gothenburg on September 10 who were allegedly plotting to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks at an art gallery in the city. Three of the suspects were Swedish residents of Somali descent and one was of Iraqi descent. According to Swedish and U.S. counter-terrorism sources, it is possible the suspects were merely inspired by Al-Shabaab propaganda.

In November 2010 Al-Shabaab explicitly threatened Vilks in a propaganda video subtitled in English and Swedish. "We will catch you wherever you are," said Abu Zaid Sweden, a Swedish-Somali member of the group who was filmed in the stands of a dilapidated sports arena with bursts of gunfire audible in the background. "In whatever hole you are hiding – know what awaits you – as it will be nothing but this: slaughter," as he simulated slitting his throat. He also urged Al-Shabaab's supporters in the West to join them in Somalia and to carry out an attack on Vilks if they could. "If you can kill this dog called Lars Vilks then you will receive a great reward from Allah," he promised them. FULL POST


Filed under: Al-Shabaab • Security Brief • Somalia • State Department • Terrorism