Hambali is being called the mastermind of the Bali bombings. That may be an accurate description, but it understates his importance. He was in fact the leader of a Southeast Asian terrorist network that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed turned to after 9/11 to carry out the “Second Wave” — a plot to hijack a plane and fly it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles. (KSM knew we would be on the lookout for Arab men, so he asked Hambali to recruit a cell of Southeast Asian operatives to infiltrate the United States. I tell the full story of the takedown of the Hambali network in Courting Disaster.)
Hambali and the key members of his terror network were captured only because of information gained from KSM after he underwent enhanced interrogation techniques. (Indeed, it seems that virtually everyone the Obama administration wants to put on trial in civilian court was captured as a result of the CIA interrogation program that Obama shut down.) After 9/11, we were unaware of the Hambali network or its plans — until CIA detainees were captured and questioned. Those detainees told us what we needed to know to take the network down.
Now, some nine years later, we face a new terror network about which we know almost nothing (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). This network nearly carried off a spectacular Christmas Day attack in Detroit. And the reason we were caught blind about this network and its plans is because — unlike during the period after 9/11 — we are no longer trying to capture, detain, and effectively interrogate senior terrorist leaders such as Hambali.
– Marc Thiessen’s new book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack, will be published Monday by Regnery.