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Dangerous Liaisons

Dismissing al-Qaeda – Hizballah Cooperation Fosters Dangerous Misconceptions

By Steve Schippert | April 11, 2007

Understanding the nature of the enemy is fundamental to successfully engaging that enemy, be it on the battlefields of metal and flesh, the battlefields of ideas, or the battlefields of information and communication. To this end, it is absolutely critical that the West – and the American public in particular – understand that, unlike the way the American political landscape so often appears, our terrorist enemies are often more willing to lay aside their fundamental and substantive differences for the purposes of engaging a mutual enemy. There is no greater example of this than the cooperation between Sunni al-Qaeda leadership and that of Shi’a Hizballah and their Iranian masters.

Yet, gracing the pages of the New York Times’ International Herald Tribune is a commentary, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, by a researcher and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy which attempts to dispel the notion of al-Qaeda – Hizballah (and thus, Iranian) cooperation. That the attempt by Bilal Y. Saab and Bruce O. Riedel does so in an incredibly weak manner is beside the point.

The greater issue is that the average busy American reader and consumer of information in Kansas City or Cleveland will note the respectable credentials of the above authors and conclude that they are surely well-informed and therefore likely quite correct in their assessment. The authors' credentials are indeed respectable, as is the Brookings Institution. The unfortunate consequence of the commentary in question, however, is an incrementally more misinformed public on the epic conflict before us and an even deeper misunderstanding of the nature of our enemies.

In order for Saab and Riedel to “challenge” the “assumption that Hezbollah and Al Qaeda have a solid operational or strategic relationship and cooperate on matters pertaining to global jihad,” they offer four weakly supported points to support the conclusion that there cannot be any substantive cooperation between the Sunni al-Qaeda and Shi’a Hizballah terrorist organizations. Those four points are: irreconcilable theological differences, conflicting political strategies, strategic differences, and a physical state of war between the two entities.

Debunking The Irreconcilable Theological Differences Obstacle

In noting “irreconcilable theological differences,” cited are the murderous anti-Shi’a actions of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi while he headed up al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the vehement denunciation offered by Hizballah. While there are very real theological differences between the two organizations, to presume that the bloodthirsty actions of a wild-card actor like Zarqawi completely erases or makes impossible al-Qaeda-Hizballah cooperation (past and present) is to ignore reality. The reality of al-Qaeda’s leadership fearing the divisive nature of Zarqawi’s attacks on Iraqi Shi’as is evident in the admonition communicated to him on just this accord. From a July 9, 2005 letter from al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri to Zarqawi, this is made abundantly clear.

And do the brothers forget that we have more than one hundred prisoners--many of whom are from the leadership who are wanted in their countries--in the custody of the Iranians? And even if we attack the Shia out of necessity, then why do you announce this matter and make it public, which compels the Iranians to take counter measures? And do the brothers forget that both we and the Iranians need to refrain from harming each other at this time in which the Americans are targeting us?

In this single statement, Zawahiri acknowledged that over 100 al-Qaeda operatives are ‘in custody’ in Iran. Further, he clearly did not at the time fear for their safety, but would fear such if Zarqawi’s attacks on Shi’a Iraqis began to anger the Iranians. This is fundamental and absolutely critical to note, as the al-Qaeda members in Iran have free reign to plan and coordinate attacks. It also leads directly into the final line in the above quote, where Zawahiri reminds Zarqawi that Iran and al-Qaeda need to “refrain from harming one another” while they share a common American enemy.

So while the schism between the Sunni Islamists of al-Qaeda and the Shi’a Islamists of Khoneinist Iran and Hizballah may indeed embody ‘irreconcilable theological differences,’ it is clear that those differences can be and have been sidelined by al-Qaeda’s top leadership for addressing another day while they share a common enemy with their Shi’a rivals. More to the point, citing ‘irreconcilable theological differences’ as a basis for concluding that al-Qaeda and Hizballah leaderships would not “cooperate on matters pertaining to global jihad” has been dispelled by the words of al-Qaeda’s own leadership.

Debunking The Conflicting Political Strategies Obstacle

The second point offered by the International Herald Tribune commentary is well wide of the mark regarding “conflicting political strategies” between Hizballah and al-Qaeda. Proffered is the notion that while al-Qaeda seeks to destroy non-Islamist Arab governments, Hizballah on the other hand “seeks to work within the Lebanese system.” Unfortunately, since December 2006 at best, the only thing Hizballah has been working within are the Lebanese borders.

Dismissed and omitted is any reference to Hizballah’s goal of destroying the Lebanese system from within and replacing it with an Islamist theocracy in the Khomeinist model of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Seeking to undermine the existing democratic system by withdrawing ministers from the government and laying a tent-city siege to Beirut’s governmental complex can hardly be viewed as any effort to “work within the Lebanese system.” Clearly, it is an effort to bring that system to its knees. Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah has overtly and publicly acknowledged this.

Further, also held out for observation is the view that based upon prisoner exchanges with Israel following terrorist attacks and abductions, “contrary to al-Qaeda, Hizballah can be engaged.” If that is the standard for engaging a terrorist organization – attack, demand and reciprocate - then the Spanish example merits inclusion and consideration.

Following the 3/11 al-Qaeda attacks on the commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, days before the Spanish national elections in 2004, al-Qaeda made the very overt demand that Spain withdraw its troops in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. With the subsequent surprise election of the anti-American socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as Prime Minister, Spain immediately reciprocated the al-Qaeda demands and promptly withdrew its forces from Iraq. Attack, demand and reciprocate. Al-Qaeda can be – and was -engaged.

Debunking The ‘Officially At War With Strategic Orbit’ Obstacle

In the three sentences cited above from the 2005 letter to Zarqawi in Iraq – straight from the lips of Ayman al-Zawahiri and not this writer – Saab and Riedel’s third and fourth points of al-Qaeda “officially at war with [Hizballah’s] strategic orbit” and a greater “physical state of war between the two entities” are reduced to erroneous and uninformed speculation.

While the writers address Hizballah and not their Iranian masters, to separate the two within this context is akin to attempting to separate the wheat from the bread. Iran created Hizballah in the early 1980’s and the Lebanese terrorist group is often referred to as Iran’s ‘Foreign Legion.’ This is not the product of invention or imagination. And, as explained without equivocation by Ayman al-Zawahiri in the captured communiqué, not only is there not a state of war between al-Qaeda leadership and the Iranian terror machine (including Hizballah), their significant differences are intentionally laid aside to be dealt with later.

If al-Qaeda were ‘officially at war’ with Iran (as Hizballah’s strategic orbit), the language used by Zawahiri seeking continued relative harmony with Iran would be much different. There is absolutely no hint whatsoever at an active state of war between the two. There is, however, an acknowledgment of this inevitability. To erroneously presume the two are currently at war with each other when in fact they are together at war with America would lead to the misallocation of finite resources and grave misinterpretation of gathered intelligence. In an intelligence war, the costs of such would be profound.

Debunking The ‘Physical State of War’ Obstacle

The fourth point of a “physical state of war between the two entities” appears to be an attempt to buttress what the blurred points 2 and 3 (“conflicting political strategies” and “strategic differences”) cannot bring to a logically closed loop on their own merits. To achieve this, the questionable group Jund al-Sham and their limited attacks in Lebanon are evidenced.

The al-Qaeda rocket attack from Lebanon into Israel referenced was not a ploy to give Hizballah blame, as is stated by Saab and Riedel. It was an attempt by al-Qaeda in Iraq to demonstrate operational reach into the Levant. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed credit for the attack saying it was just the "beginning of a welcome operation to strike deep in enemy territory, at the instructions of Osama bin Laden." If they were in a “physical state of war with Hizballah,” why was al-Qaeda attacking Israel and Hizballah not attacking al-Qaeda within its own territory?

There were also reports around that time of Lebanese security forces rounding up al-Qaeda operatives in Lebanon. Yet, there were not reports of Hizballah – more militarily capable than the Lebanese Army – capturing al-Qaeda terrorists on their soil. Instead, at the end of the day, al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists attacked Israel and Hizballah captured IDF soldiers in an operation that led to the summer war between the IDF and Iran’s Foreign Legion.

And the reported 2006 plot “by a local Salafist group” to assassinate Hassan Nasrallah was, like so many other attacks and plots in Lebanon and Syria, foiled by Lebanese authorities. There is an interesting trend of failed attacks and those foiled at the last minute.

The operational independence of the disparate Jund al-Sham group mentioned – and other Sunni Salafist groups - is in serious question. Respected Lebanese terrorism analyst Dr. Walid Phares offers a very plausible conclusion in regards to the operation of such groups as the Jund al-Sham in Syria and Lebanon. Drawing on his own vast experience, he recently offered, "The seasoned experts on Syria knows all too well that the Assad Mukhabarat are in control of, or have "access" to the overwhelming Terrorist organizations in Syria and Lebanon. They've had thirty years of deep involvement to accomplish this take over. In addition to Shiia Hezbollah, Syria has a control, a remote-control of, or an access to Sunni Salafists groups, including networks that connects with al Qaeda."

Conclusion: Ignoring Past Cooperation Is Willful Blindness Revisited

In order to accept at face value the notion that Sunni al-Qaeda and Shi’a Hizballah (and, again, thus their Iranian masters) could never cooperate or coordinate in the global jihad, one would also have to dismiss fully Iran’s known support for both sides of the sectarian violence that raged and rages in Iraq. Also requiring whole-cloth dismissal is the fact that Sudan’s Hassan al-Turabi organized the Islamic Arab Popular Conference in April 1991 in the aftermath of the American rout in the Gulf War. The aim was reaching a consensus that, in order to defeat the American infidels, these groups must put aside their internal religious and ideological differences and unite under a banner of Islam. Participants included such actors as bin Laden, Iran, Hizballah, Iraq, Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Hamas and others.

There is a litany of details that would require dismissal, also including Hizballah’s training of al-Qaeda’s first suicide truck bombers in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, al-Qaeda's fingerprints on the Saudi Arabian Hizballah bombing of the Khobar Towers and other Iranian support links to al-Qaeda. Or, that the original 1998 Justice Department indictment against bin Laden stated that al-Qaeda "forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West."

Had Mssrs. Saab and Riedel left their commentary at the very correct conclusion that “lumping al-Qaeda and Hezbollah in the same basket will only do disservice to the global counterterrorism campaign,” this would draw little if any criticism. It is very important to understand and distinguish both. However, to attempt to persuade the public that it is wholly illogical for the two theologically polarized terrorist groups to ever bring themselves to co-exist and cooperate is misinformed and dangerously misinforming commentary.

The fact of the matter is that while the two terrorist groups hate each other, they simply hate us more. We would be wise to acknowledge this and all that it entails. Ignoring past instances of cooperation, coordination and cross training for the convenient purposes of putting the two groups into neat little boxes of Shi’a terrorists and Sunni terrorists is to be willfully blind. We’ve traveled that path once before. We’d be wise not to repeat our own deadly errors once more.


Steve, you took on an ambitious project with this post, but you failed to counter Reidel and Saab's argument in the following ways:

1. The religious divide that exists between Sunni and Shia cannot be dismissed, as you attempt to do, with one quote from one Al-Qa'ida leader, while ignoring the Zarqawi letter that Reidel references. You further fail to address what Musawi said about Zarqawi in June, 2006, as well as the Hassan Nasrallah statement. In other words, Steve, Reidel quotes 3 leaders in a six year time frame, and can point to well-documented theological differences between the two groups to support his first point. You, on the other hand, provide only one quote from Zawahiri, while agreeing with Reidel's point of "irreconcilable theological differences". On point one, you have not proved your case.

Moving on to point two of the article, "Conflicting political strategies", Reidel argues that Hezbollah is a part of the Lebanese political process and has been for some time. This is what makes it possible for them to be politically "engaged". Your counter that Hezbollah wants to change the Lebanese system to a theocracy is no different from the Democrats wanting to throw out the Republicans. In other words, you make a meaningless distinction. Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese political system. Al-Qa'ida is not a part of any country's political system. On Reidel's point 2, you lose.

Regarding the third point of "Strategic Differences", Reidel refers to the widely accepted analysis by Middle East experts that Hezbollah is a tool of Iran, useful in bringing back the Persian empire. You seem to agree with that analysis when you say that Hezbollah is "Iran's Foreign Legion". In fact, I'm not sure what your point is unless you mis-interpreted what Reidel said. He never tried to "separate the wheat from the bread" as you claim - in fact, just the opposite. Furthermore, Reidel refers to multiple official statements from Al-Qa'ida leaders which demonstrate the hositilities between them and Hezbollah. You, on the other hand, hang your entire counter on the same single quote that you used earlier. I recommend that you ask Michael what he would do if one of his analysts at DIA based an entire intelligence assessment on one quote. That's not only un-professional, but it just lacks common sense. One quote never wins an argument, as you probably know. Therefore, on point 3, you again fail to make your case.

Regarding point 4, "the physical state of war between the two entities", you make your best argument. You address Rediel's examples with some good questions, and you refer to a different Middle East authority to support your position.

Unfortunately, the points you scored with point 4 aren't enough to overcome the weak counters you offered in points 1, 2, and 3. You not only never proved your argument, but you left many of Reidel's points standing untouched or you accepted them. Not surprisingly, this match goes to the Brookings Institute scholars.

Thanks for the feedback, Jeff.

You make a solid enough point with the usage of the Zawahiri quote. And I owe you a more complete response than I have time for at the moment.

For the time being, please consider the following:

The Zawahiri quote was used extensively because it applied extensively in my view. You note the multiple references made by Saab and Riedel, which is fair enough and true. However, when they cite al-Qaeda, they cite Zarqawi - the AQIZ leader whom it was that the bin Laden and Zawahiri leadership was trying desperately to reign in. Yes, he hated Hizballah and everything Shi'a that moved. But AQ leadership recognized that he was upsetting the current cooperative applecart with Iran and, thus, Hizballah (not that bin Laden or Zawahiri harbor any secret love).

This is not to say that AQ and Iran or Hizballah are operating the Bat Phone in constant communication and coordination, either.

But it is difficult to dismiss cooperation and coordination - if one acknowledges the relationship established between Iran and what would soon become al-Qaeda in Sudan during the 1990's. Of course, it just may be conventional wisdom blasphemy to also note the deep presence there also of Iraq's Mukhabbarrat.

It is also difficult to dismiss the al-Qaeda connections to the Hizballah bombing of the Khobar Towers, or the Iranian connections to the al-Qaeda bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The whole point of this analysis, however, is less about what analysts and professionals think than about how the lesser-informed general public interprets and internalizes their writings, especially behind the weight of respected credentials, such as those of Mr. Saab and Mr. Riedel.

In very short answer to the gist of your comment, yes, I perhaps in haste failed to source more background. This is recognized in one of the concluding paragraphs that direct the reader to al-Turabi's Sudanese terrorist bazaar, the Khobar Tower background and the bin Laden indictment's language.

I don't disagree with Saab and Riedel on everything. I disagree with the way in which their commentary leaves an errant "no connection or cooperation" conclusion in the minds of readers in the same manner in which commentaries of the 9/11 Commission left the "no connection or cooperation" conclusion between al-Qaeda and Saddam's Iraq, when what was actually said was that there was no evidence found of such but that there was cause to look further. Which, as we know, never happened because that last part was left off nearly all public discussion.

Thanks for the detailed reply, Steve. I appreciate why you used the Zawahiri quote, and we both agree that your argument would be better posited with additional support, so my only point now is the apparent reasoning behind Reidel's objection to fostering the belief that these two camps will work together. Here is how the Reidel/Saab article ended:
"Lumping Al Qaeda and Hezbollah in the same basket will only do disservice to the global counterterrorism campaign. Each entity poses a distinct set of challenges to the Unites States and the West. Leading a successful campaign against these entities will require individual strategies tailored to address the distinctive threats they pose.

Encouraging the animosity of one toward the other and underscoring their differences serves the global war on terrorism better than creating a sense of solidarity between them."

Their goal, your goal, and my goal are one and the same - gaining a victory in the war on terror. Reidel basically invokes sound military practice in deliniating the specifics of your enemy(s). Clausewitz wrote:
"If you want to overcome your enemy you must match your effort against his
power of resistance, which can be expressed as the product of two inseparable
factors, viz. the total means at his disposal and the strength of his will. The extent of the means at his disposal is a matter -- through not exclusively -- of figures, and should be measurable. But the strength of his will is much less easy to determine and can only be gauged approximately by the strength of the motive animating it."

If we accept Clauswitz' point as valid, then it becomes important to know from where the enemy's will emanates. If we lump Hezbollah and Al-Qa'ida together, we cannot get to the very specific differences that motivate them. Instead, we'll be tempted to make generalizations and gross assumptions, which, in turn, will result in more mis-judgments in strategy and tactics, costing us more in lives and resources. And that, after all, is exactly what Al-Qa'ida has said they want.

In other words, I think it's better to err on the side of keeping these two groups separate and indentifying their individual goals and differences, then in lumping them together, and losing the ability to truly "know our enemy".

"I think it's better to err on the side of keeping these two groups separate and indentifying their individual goals and differences, then in lumping them together, and losing the ability to truly "know our enemy"."

Naturally. Once again we agree.

The essential question remains: To whom are Saab and Riedel addressing their argument?

I know of no one - not one - in the professional CT or Intel community who thinks this (lumping them together). Clearly they cannot be addressing CT/IC professionals, and if so, why through an IHT commentary?

That leaves the target audience essentially one of elected political decision makers and the general public.

Considering members of the House Intel Committee on both sides of the aisle failed recently to even distinguish Sunni from Shi'a (and likely a fair swath of the general public as well), what - I ask again - are they going to take from the original Saab/Riedel piece?

Answer: That, based on the bullet-type listed arguments, al-Qaeda and Hizballah (and thus, Iran) are too diametrically opposed to each other to cooperate on anything of significance.

This does not further an argument among this audience (DC Poli & US Public) of distinguishing between the groups. Rather - and dangerously - it serves to cause elected decision makers (already knowledge-challenged) and the general public to dismiss linkages and cooperation as false claims or, dare I say it, "lies."

I've only - as you pointed out - listed the tip of the iceberg here of publicly available intelligence and record indicating the exact opposite to be the case.

I would urge you to keep your eye out for a Claremont Institute publication soon addressing the chronology and depth of Iranian support for and cooperation with Sunni al-Qaeda. It continues still.

So while it is critical to distinguish one group from another in order to 'know your enemy(s),' I would suggest it is equally critical to understand their linkages and synergies in order to not only best defeat them leaning forward, but also to best defend against them at the same time at home and abroad.

While I am comfortable addressing the professional CT/Intel community within the bounds of my own understanding and knowledge (there's a difference), with regard to my efforts at ThreatsWatch my focus is clearly on the general public and how they interpret and receive what is often otherwise intimidating material, either in depth or volume. With that, perhaps you can understand better my criticism of Saab and Riedel's public commentary.

At the end of the day, I don't think you and I (and likely Saab & Riedel) are all that far off. It's simply the basic formula of communication:

Audience - Message - Reception.

Perhaps the message the received from them is not the one they intended. The broken equation in the formula was likely in calculating for 'Audience.'

Analysts and CT/IC types too often fall into the trap of talking to each other, even when they think they are addressing the public. These professionals and the general public speak entirely different languages and consume information with entirely different processes. It's no wonder the public rarely 'hears' what the professional is really 'saying.' And there's the rub.

Serves no one well.

Thanks for engaging, Jeff. I think our discussion here was important and I hope some readers will take the time to work through it completely. They'll likely take more from our comments here than in the original commentary to the left there.

Our military do indeed make presentations to the general public as S. says is TW's own objective. At a recent one, the spokesperson did reemphasize the long range character of the "War on Terror," while eliding mention of any particular state [but read Iran], as some principal al-Quaida fomenter. But notable was his description of al-Quaida's objectives as quite rational political ones: namely the establishment of Islamic rule, first in weak, chaotic muslim areas, then in existing muslim regional states and finally over a new Caliphate, extending from Morocco to the southern Philippines. Such a Caliphate would bring into being a new, 21st century version of the fallen Ottoman Empire. Now it seems quite obvious that any "alliance" between al-Quaida and some presently existing muslim state such as Iran must be merely opportunistic and temporary. This fact would not take away from the dangerousness of an episodic tactical alignment of interests between Iran and al-Quaida
but to use such as argument for extending the "War on Terror" over Iran would be reprehensible. The latter state has from time to time supported various far flung terrorist acts - but so have other states of this nasty world. Persia is a long-established nation, not the fantastic vision of political fanatics.

Two things in profound disagreement, sir.

First, the Persian nation may well have a long and rich history, which it most certainly does. But let's not confuse that Persian nation with the recent manifestation of the current Mullah regime.

Second, there is absolutely no need to use al-Qaeda "as argument for extending the 'War on Terror' over Iran." The current Iranian regime stands rightly as an adversary worthy of confrontation in its own right, by its own deeds and through it's own words. It is they who lead chants of 'Death to America' in their streets each Friday since 1979. Hundreds of Americans were slain by Iranian hands and direction long before 9/11.

The 'use' of al-Qaeda is but an ancillary demonstration of the nature of an Iranian adversary who too many fail still to realize has been at war with us since its seizure of power nearly 30 years ago. It is not Western governments sending brazen letters to the Iranian people warning them to convert to a different faith. That, sir, was Ahmadinejad at the pleasure of the Supreme Leader.

At issue are those who aim to disconnect any existing Iran-al-Qaeda connections for the purpose of demonstrating that Iran is not a viable part of what has been labeled as the 'War on Terror,' a war associated primarily with al-Qaeda.

Iran is as much the epicenter of this conflict as the al-Qaeda movement.

Rivalries in Iraq extend to separate spy agencies

Shiite officials wary of the CIA-funded, Sunni-led official intelligence service have built a parallel, "shadow" organization boasting 1,200 agents
Iraq Militants Dominate City, and Attacks Surge

Baquba has emerged as a magnet for insurgents and, perhaps, the next major headache for the U.S. military.

U.S. Softening Stance on Muslim Brotherhood
April 23, 2007 issue - A brief encounter at a Cairo cocktail party could signal a shift in Bush administration policy toward the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide Islamic movement that the United States has shunned because of its alleged ties to terrorism.

The US is not failing to contend with Iran because it went to war in Iraq. It is failing because it is implementing policies that prefer imaginary silver bullets to real solutions for real problems.

AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, Bush explained that the attacks showed that the friend of your enemy is also your enemy. As he put it last September, "America makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror, and those that harbor and support them, because they're equally guilty of murder." Yet what Bush failed to note is the converse of that reality: The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. Here the distinction generally relates to Sunnis and Shi'ites. The administration's failure to grasp that just because Shi'ites and Sunnis are rivals doesn't mean that they will join forces with the US to fight one another, or won't join forces with one another to fight the US, has caused the Americans no end of difficulty.
- Caroline Glick

The Unmentionable "I" Word:
(it's not Imus)
AP: Britain Stops Using 'War on Terror' Phrase

LONDON (April 17) - A member of Tony Blair 's Cabinet on Monday brought out into the open a quiet shift away from the U.S. view on combatting extremist groups, acknowledging that British officials have stopped using the expression "war on terror " favored by President Bush .

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, a rising star of the governing Labour Party, said the phrase strengthens terrorists by making them feel part of a bigger struggle.

"In the U.K., we do not use the phrase 'war on terror' because we can't win by military means alone, and because this isn't us against one organized enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives," Benn said.

He said the real struggle pits the "vast majority" of the world's people "against a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common apart from their identification with others who share their distorted view of the world and their idea of being part of something bigger."

The terrorist threat facing Britain - starkly revealed by the July 7, 2005, transit attacks that killed 52 London commuters - made officials realize the limitations of an abstract phrase like "war on terror."

"In the U.K. we can't consider the domestic problem with terrorism to be a war where you must be on one side or another," he said. "It requires a much deeper sensitivity than that."

In his speech, Benn urged Americans to use the "soft power" of values and ideas as well as military strength to defeat extremism.