The investigation into the suspected Al-Qaeda leader in Britain and his UK associates was considered by Eliza Manningham-Buller, MI5's director-general, to be the security service's single most important line of inquiry.
He is suspected of being behind two "pipelines" which saw potential terrorist recruits being sent for training at camps in Pakistan and to join the "holy war" in Iraq.
The Al-Qaeda leader - who cannot be named for legal reasons - acts as a suspected hub in a network of extremist groups. These include Kashmiri and north African groups based in this country. He is linked to a second suspect also in Britain who has "played a major role in facilitating support for the Iraq jihad."
A third associate is an Iraqi who came to Britain in 2004 and worked on providing support for British extremists who wanted to travel to Iraq to fight the "holy war".
It matters that we're fighting in Iraq. That we're being aggressive. That our enemy must divert significant resources to try to fight there. And that we have boots on the ground, our eyes and ears all over the country, and our own allies in the region.
The enemy understands this is a World War, and is fighting it as such. Adolf Hitler was a white supremacist who allied himself with Asians because it served his needs. Why do people think fascists would suddenly eschew hypocrisy now when it can allow them to kill more people and stay in power? And when so many people so willingly accept their lines?
Iraq is not a "distraction." It is the theater we chose to fight the fascists in, as opposed to our old Carter/Reagan/Bush I/Clinton policy of letting them choose the battlefield. Because we have been there, their ability to strike world-wide has been diminished. (Did anyone really think in 2001 that we would not suffer another major terror attack on US soil in the 5 years since 9/11?) It is always better to choose the time and place of the fight, than to let the enemy do it for you. Just think how much more aggressive the fascists would be against our multitude of soft targets in our free societies if they didn't have to divert any of their resources to fighting democracy in Iraq.
But this is a powerful, determined enemy. They will strike back. They are patient. They are evil. They only have to succeed a fraction of the time - we must always succeed in defending ourselves. That's the price of a defensive war. The enemies are trying to win our hearts and minds by painting themselves as victims, and they know the American left - a group enthralled and enamored of all self-styled victims - is 100% on their side. They want us to feel guilty for having a more successful and prosperous society than they could ever have under their corrupt theocracies, because they know guilt makes us weak, and the left obliges. They want us to leave our chosen theater so they can once again establish it as a base of operations free of molestation from a freely elected Iraqi federal government or US and British forces. And the "out now," appeasement-is-sure-to-work-this-time left wants to give it to them.
I fear we're loosing our will. Our economy is too good, we are too fat and happy. The terror threat - due in large part to Bush's successful policies - seem far away and not impactful on us here at home. I'm not sorry we're successful, but we need to remember that our success comes with the responsibility to protect it. America will destroy this enemy, but how long it takes is up to us. The less aggressive we are, the more we seek "diplomacy" with people who refuse to negotiate in good faith, the more we allow the corrupt and anti-US United Nations to be our brokers, the more we accept the lies told to our faces, the longer it will take. And the longer it takes, the more costly it will be.
Americans can be short sighted people, and politicians are even more so - too often looking only at the next election. I just hope we don't require a nuclear bomb in NYC to make us regain our will, and to remind us of the real threat we face.