WASHINGTON -- There is no doubt that the terrible earthquake in Haiti -- the worst disaster in the history of the Western Hemisphere -- is a tragedy of profound proportions. The good news is that the "first responders" on-scene were wearing American uniforms. The U.S. Coast Guard -- motto: "Semper Paratus" (Latin for "Always Ready") -- was "firstest with the mostest" and began providing emergency assistance within hours of the Tuesday night quake.
The White House quickly ordered reinforcements. A veritable armada -- consisting of U.S. Navy ships and aircraft, Air Force cargo and aeromedical flights, a brigade of the 82nd Airborne and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit -- was dispatched for rescue, relief and security operations. In an era when the so-called mainstream media make much of how our armed forces are "overstretched" by commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden, the U.S. military's rapid reaction to the catastrophe in Haiti is a lesson for the potentates of the press -- and tinhorn despots, such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
Events in Haiti have eclipsed some good news from the war in Afghanistan. Last week on Fox News Channel, I described how the Haqqani network -- perhaps the most dangerous terror group operating against NATO forces and the Karzai government in Kabul -- was tripped up by the malfeasance of its leaders. A grotesque series of pornographic videos, apparently made by senior members of the Haqqani organization, shows them committing serial rape. The perpetrators and victims -- young ethnic Pashtun girls and boys -- are clearly visible in videos being distributed on Islamic Web sites, DVDs and VHS tapes sold at "porn bazaars" in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Outraged Muslim clerics have accused those involved of "crimes against Islam."
The "founder" of the terror network, Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, was once the Taliban minister of borders and tribal affairs. His eldest son -- Sirajuddin, aka Siraj -- now runs the day-to-day operations of the organization and maintains close ties with Taliban leaders and al-Qaida. The network operates from tribal havens along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and is believed to be connected to a wave of suicide bombings -- including the Dec. 30 attack at Camp Chapman in Khost province, which killed seven CIA personnel and wounded six others.
Widespread dissemination of the "Haqqani porn videos" by clerics calling for "righteous Muslims to rise up against those who perform such acts" may seriously damage the network's base of support -- and disenchant supposedly devout Wahhabi financiers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. If that were to happen, it would be very good news indeed.
Now for the bad news. Yemen is a much bigger problem than anyone ever believed before Christmas Day, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with a bomb in his underwear.
Since then, we have learned that the young Nigerian was not a "lone wolf" or an "isolated case" -- as we were initially told by the Obama administration. We now know that there are in fact many more al-Qaida-trained terrorists in Yemen preparing for attacks on Americans -- there, elsewhere around the world and here at home. We also have learned that the O-Team -- so quick in sending much-needed help to Haiti -- is slow off the mark when it comes to dealing with this threat.
That Yemen is a hotbed for radical Islamists should not be a surprise to anyone. This is, after all, the place where al-Qaida terrorists blew a hole in the USS Cole, killing 17 American sailors and wounding more than 30 others, Oct. 12, 2000. Yemen is where convicted terrorist John Walker Lindh, captured in Afghanistan in 2001, was "radicalized." It was after visiting Yemen that Carlos Leon Bledsoe, aka Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, decided, police say, to shoot up a U.S. Army recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark., killing one soldier and critically wounding another.
Yemen is where radical American-born cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi foments jihad against us. It was to al-Aulaqi in Yemen that Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army physician, turned for counsel before, according to police, opening fire, killing 13 people and wounding more than two dozen others at Fort Hood on Nov. 5. Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal, the Jordanian physician who blew himself up at the CIA base in Afghanistan last month, was a member of Yemen-based Hisbah.net, an online radical Islamic forum. Now we know that 55,000 Americans currently are "visiting, living or studying in Yemen."
That stunning number is in a letter Rep. Frank Wolf, author of the 1998 legislation creating the National Commission on Terrorism, sent to the White House this week. The congressman points out that "all these individuals can fly back to the United States with American passports" and asks how the Obama administration plans to handle those who may be coming home radicalized and trained in terror.
The really bad news is that when it comes to Yemen, the O-Team doesn't have a plan.