On August 6, 2001, George W. Bush was given what may be the most infamous daily intelligence brief ever received by a US president. It was titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US,” and it included details on the activities of al-Qaeda operatives in the US, including threats to hijack US aircraft. In response, Bush did virtually nothing. And then, a little over a month later, those predictions came stunningly true with the 9/11 attacks.
Bush would not be the last leader to ignore such a warning. Decades into the “war on terror,” it’s clear that political leaders, as well as some of the world’s most powerful militaries and intelligence, still underestimate the ability and ambition of extremist militant groups to carry out large-scale attacks. There have now been three major instances of such failures in the past decade.
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