FNC
Mansoor Ijaz
Last week's simultaneous terrorist bombings aboard Spanish commuter trains are the most significant events in the war against terrorism since terrorists attacked the World Trade Centers and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The loss of life was horrendous and the mass confusion amongst Spain’s overloaded security and healthcare facilities was dishearteningly apparent.

Al Qaeda’s hallmarks were everywhere, yet Spain’s government capsized under the pressure of having to assign blame to ETA, the domestic terrorist group that has haunted Spaniards for decades. Madrid’s political machinery tried catching suspects, blustery rhetoric and promises of retribution to make it look like they had some power – any power – to stop transnational terrorism from rearing its ugly head on Spanish soil.

"The incoming Spanish prime minister has already handed these mutant terrorists their payment for services rendered by stating he will pull out Spanish troops from Iraq."

It was a moment that forebodes the intent and capacity for a new terrorist breed to strike at will against political allies of the United States everywhere – perhaps even on U.S. soil if we are not more vigilant. Al Qaeda has now succeeded in bridging the technological divide between their out-of-touch fathers holed up in caves and themselves, resurrecting supply lines for everything from money to highly sophisticated plastic explosives (only obtainable from official state military apparatuses), to faking travel documents allowing them access to local terrorist cells with the requisite knowledge and plans to be able to strike on demand.

With the defeat of Spain’s ruling party, the mutant strain of Al Qaeda has a significant victory in its efforts to even scores with those who support the U.S. and its foreign-policy paradigms. To make matters worse, the incoming Spanish prime minister has already handed these terrorists their payment for services rendered by stating he will pull out Spanish troops from Iraq.

We can be sure Britain, where Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to call for early polls, will be a prime target for Al Qaeda’s terrorists. And this fall’s U.S. elections are shaping up as another opportunity, although the domestic terrorist infrastructure does not exist in the same robust manner as it did in Spain, the United Kingdom (IRA), or even in Germany (with its white supremacist hate groups).

Having fallen well behind the curve of the changing terrorist threat by concentrating resources in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. and its allies have a lot of wood to chop to combat Al Qaeda’s new strategic planning and execution capabilities.

"The terrorists, sooner or later, will learn that there will never be enough of them to defeat us if we band together not as Americans, or Spaniards, or Italians, but as peace-loving, rational human beings."

First, the U.S. needs to encourage its foreign allies that have home-grown terrorist networks to share intelligence data with us on precisely how these networks work today, not how they worked ten years ago. We need to infiltrate these groups and find out how they have financially and technologically interlinked with Al Qaeda operatives and other Islamic extremist groups.

Second, the U.S. needs to dramatically, by several orders of magnitude, increase its budgetary allocations for human intelligence operations inside the world of radical Islam, and in particular the threads of radical Islam prevalent in Spain, France, and the United Kingdom. We must spend 75-80% of our time finding ways to break into these groups at a human level, not just by using signals intelligence and analytics.

Third, we need to dramatically ramp up research and development into detection mechanisms for explosives, chemical, nuclear and biological materials. Fortunately, this is one area in which the news is good, and the technological tools to protect our modes of transport and other institutional frameworks important to everyday life are just around the corner.

Finally, President Bush should take the harsh criticism he has received from Spain’s new government as a constructive splash of water to wake us all up and rally the world behind one simple mantra: terrorism is against rational thought, human decency, and a productive way of life. The terrorists, sooner or later, will learn that there will never be enough of them to defeat us if we band together not as Americans, or Spaniards, or Italians, but as peace-loving, rational human beings.

That unity would be the greatest tribute we can all pay to the lives lost in Spain last weekend, and to the lives our brave men and women of the armed forces throughout the world sacrificed in liberating Iraq, and to those who unwittingly gave their lives on that tragic day in September two and a half years ago.

Mansoor Ijaz is chairman of New York-based Crescent Investment Management. He negotiated Sudan’s offer of counterterrorism assistance on al-Qaeda and Usama bin Laden to the Clinton administration in 1997 and co-authored the blueprint for the ceasefire of hostilities in Kashmir in the summer of 2000. He serves as a FOX News Foreign Affairs Analyst.