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This article is reprinted from City Journal.
While Americans contemplate “fights to the finish” and “tense battles” between Democratic and Republican candidates in Tuesday’s midterm elections, let’s be sure to remember the real wars being waged against America and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen.
The latest news provides a searing reminder of the nature of our enemy. In Baghdad on Sunday, terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq—a militant group connected with al-Qaida in Mesopotamia—took nearly 100 hostages in a church filled for Sunday services. Iraqi security forces stormed the building to free them. Hussain Nahidh, a police officer on the scene at the Sayidat al-Nejat church, located in the heavily guarded Karada neighborhood, told the New York Times that the terrorists’ two suicide vests had been filled with ball bearings “to kill as many people as possible”—and they did. The latest figures from the Iraqi Interior Ministry show 58 dead and 75 wounded. “You can see human flesh everywhere,” said the deeply distraught officer. “Flesh was stuck to the top roof of the hall. Many people went to the hospitals without legs and hands.”
Earlier in the day in neighboring Turkey, a suicide bomber killed himself and wounded 32 people as he boarded a bus in the busiest square in the heart of Istanbul, Turkey’s commercial capital. No one immediately claimed credit for the attack, which occurred on the last day of a unilateral, two-month ceasefire declared by the Kurdish Workers Party, known as the PKK, a rebel group that has been battling the Ankara-based government since the early 1980s. While the PKK has previously conducted suicide attacks, there is no shortage of militant groups, Islamic and secular alike, that might have carried out the attack, even in Islamist-leaning Turkey.
Then consider the latest developments in the foiled, or failed, package-bombing plots attempted by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. The result of a merger in 2009 of the main al-Qaida branches in Saudi Arabia and Yemen—among the wealthiest and poorest Arab countries respectively—AQAP is now heavily influenced by Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is reportedly responsible for its newfound deadly creativity.
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