“In the days to come, government, congressional, media, and academic observers will study and reach conclusions about the lessons to be learned from the failed bombing effort by Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab aboard a Northwest flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. But the general lessons are likely to be familiar, as they reflect truths that have been taught by other terrorist efforts over the past decade.
First, the most sophisticated—and therefore the most dangerous—radical Islamist plots are global in nature, and usually involve training and advanced radicalization in a safe haven. Currently, the most dangerous safe haven is the frontier area of Pakistan, but Somalia, and now parts of Yemen, have become areas of ungoverned space where deadly plots and devices can be hatched. It remains true that our first line of defense is to take the battle to the enemy where he lives, plans, and trains recruits. That means that we will not only have to continue our use of force in South Asia, but the Horn of Africa as well.”