TIME europe

Europe On High Alert Following Shootings and Arrests

A shootout in Belgium, a bomb threat in Paris and raids across the region have left European authorities on edge

Officials across Europe were on high alert for terror threats Friday after a chaotic night in Belgium on Thursday that saw a deadly shootout in Verviers, counterterrorism raids across the country, and the arrest of 13 suspected militants.

The shootout in Verviers took place during a raid of a former bakery, when suspects opened fire on police. Two gunmen were killed and another was wounded and arrested during the confrontation. All three of the suspects have recently returned from Syria and were thought to be planning an attack on the police. Four Kalashnikov rifles, bomb-making equipment and police clothing were found after the raid, reports the Guardian citing local media sources.

“This operation stopped a major terrorist attack from taking place. You could say a second potential Paris has been averted,” federal prosecutor, Eric Van Der Sypt, told the Guardian, while authorities in Belgium raised the national terror alert level from 2 to 3, the second-highest level. Van Der Sypt told the Associated Press, “I cannot confirm that we arrested everyone in this group.”

Meanwhile, Jewish schools in Brussels and Antwerp were closed on Friday after authorities revealed they were a “potential target” for Islamist militants, reports the Guardian. An Orthodox Jewish school in the Netherlands was also closed as a precautionary measure, though there was no direct threat made against it.

In Paris, the scene of last week’s terrorist attacks that left 17 dead, authorities shut down and evacuated the Gare de l’Est train station early on Friday, after a bomb threat was made. A French police official told the Associated Press that the station was closed “as a precaution.” (No bomb was found.)

Paris is at its highest terrorism alert level. The prosecutor’s office reported that 12 people had been arrested during raids throughout the region, which targeted associates of the gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people in a kosher supermarket and a policewoman last week, and claimed ties to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Coulibaly was killed at the market after a standoff with police, but his suspected accomplice and common-law wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, is still being sought by authorities.

Turkish authorities have said Boumeddiene crossed from Turkey into Syria on Jan. 8. Spanish authorities have reported that Coulibaly drove Boumeddiene from France to Madrid on New Year’s Eve and was with her until she took a Jan. 2 flight to Istanbul. Spain is still investigating what the couple did and who they contacted while in the country, and whether they had links with a terrorist cell in Spain.

Belgian police are also looking at possible links between a suspected arms dealer arrested in the southern town of Charleroi on Wednesday and Coulibaly; the man claimed that he wanted to buy a car from the Coulibaly’s wife, Van der Sypt told the AP. “At this moment this is the only link between what happened in Paris,” he said.

In Berlin, police arrested two men on Friday on suspicion of recruiting fighters for ISIS. They were taken into custody after a series of raids across the capital, which saw the search of 11 residences by 250 police officers. However authorities have said the raids were part of a months-long, ongoing investigation and not related to the recent attacks in Paris.

TIME Africa

Papers in Kenya and South Africa Say Sorry for Running Charlie Hebdo Cover

The weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, on January 13, 2015 in Villabe, south of Paris, a week after two jihadist gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine, killing 12 people including some of the country's best-known cartoonists. Its cover features the prophet with a tear in his eye, holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign under the headline "All is forgiven".
Martin Bureau—AFP/Getty Images The weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan. 13, 2015, a week after two jihadist gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine, killing 12

Reprinting triggered an uproar from Islamic communities

Kenya’s the Star and South Africa’s the Citizen issued apologies this week for reprinting the controversial new cover of Charlie Hebdo, after publication triggered an uproar from Muslim readers.

“The Star sincerely regrets any offense and pain caused by the picture and we will bear Muslim sensibilities in mind in the future,” read a statement from the Kenyan paper.

The country’s media regulator reportedly summoned the Star’s owner after levying accusations that the paper published indecent images and had acted in an unprofessional manner, according to the BBC.

Earlier this week, editors at the Citizen claimed the publication of the cover had been an “oversight” and was not fueled by malicious intent.

“The Citizen would never intentionally offend anyone’s religious sensibilities, especially in the manner used by Charlie Hebdo magazine, several of whose staff members were murdered last week,” read an editorial published online.

The cover of the first issue of Charlie Hebdo since gunmen went on a shooting spree in its Paris offices earlier this month shows an illustration of Muhammad with a sign saying, “I Am Charlie.” The headline reads: “All Is Forgiven.”

The issue of whether to run or not run the cover has spurred a furious debate among media outlets over whether the printing of images of the Prophet, which most Muslims find offensive, is justifiable.

TIME Nigeria

Why Charlie Hebdo Gets More Attention Than Boko Haram

Nigeria Boko Haram Terrorist Attack
Aminu Abubakar—AFP/Getty Images A man injured in a suicide blast is transported to the General Hospital in the northeast town of Potiskum, Nigeria on Jan, 12, 2015.

Charlotte Alter covers lifestyle, crime, and breaking news for TIME in New York City. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Americans care a lot about attacks that seem like they could happen to them

A series of attacks, both in the name of Islamist extremism, occur in the same week. Three linked attacks kill 17 in Paris, another kills at least 150 in Nigeria (but perhaps up to 2,000). Guess which one gets most of our attention?

Many are calling the Jan. 7 attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo an attack on freedom of speech, or even an assault on Western values as a whole. Yet elsewhere in the world, those same values are being threatened by other extremists who want to spread fundamentalism. I’m talking, of course, about Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group in Nigeria that kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from their dorm last spring, murdered up to 2,000 civilians in Baga last week (although the bodies have not yet been officially counted), and over the weekend used a 10-year old girl as a suicide bomber to kill at least 16 people at a market (two other young girls wearing suicide vests killed three people in a separate attack.)

These attacks aren’t just brutal, they’re also part of a larger assault on freedom of religion and democracy, since the group targets Christians, non-Muslims, and anybody suspected of opposing their efforts to establish an African caliphate. Baga was reportedly perceived to have loyalties to the Nigerian government instead of Boko Haram, and the attack comes just weeks before Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election. Boko Haram, like many Islamist fundamentalist groups, oppose democratic elections.

MORE 5 facts that explain the threat from Nigeria’s Boko Haram

Yet after the overwhelming global show of support for France in the wake of the Paris attacks, many are asking why there wasn’t similar widespread solidarity for Nigeria where far more people were killed. The hashtag #IamBaga, a variation on #JeSuisCharlie, has recently begun circulating to call attention to the massacre in Baga, a slaughter that Amnesty International is calling the group’s “deadliest act.” A Catholic Archbishop in Nigeria has called on the world community to support Nigeria the way it supported France. But even if you consider the brief blast of global awareness during last spring’s #BringBackOurGirls campaign, these calls to action seem feeble compared to the millions of marchers and more than 40 world leaders who flooded the streets of Paris this weekend.

No major dignitaries showed up in Abuja to support the Nigerian government after the Baga attack. In the week since the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the French terror plot has been the main headline in the national edition of the New York Times every day, but the most recent Boko Haram attack hasn’t appeared once on the front page. It wasn’t on the cover of the New Yorker. Nobody wore #IamBaga buttons at the Golden Globes.

Of course, the two tragedies are incomparable, as tragedies usually are. The reports coming out of Baga are still sketchy, and there’s not yet an official death toll because Boko Haram still controls the area. The details of the Charlie Hebdo attacks were immediately available, and were accompanied by compelling video that quickly dominated every major news network. French President Francois Hollande is somewhat unpopular, but at least he responded quickly and effectively to the attack. Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has been widely criticized for his incompetence at stopping Boko Haram– Jonathan released a statement condemning the Paris attacks, but his government reportedly played down the death toll in Baga. More importantly, the attack in Paris was largely unprecedented (Charlie Hebdo was firebombed in 2011, but nobody was hurt), while the massacre in Nigeria is part of a long string of Boko Haram attacks that some are even calling a “war“: the group killed over 10,000 people last year, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, and 1.5 million have fled their homes since the insurgency started. Plus, the fact that the Charlie Hebdo attack was a dramatic ambush of journalists may have added a layer of panic to the media coverage.

“The psychological distance between us and France is smaller than the psychological difference between us and Nigeria,” explains Paul Slovic, a professor of psychology at University of Oregon and president of Decision Research, a non-profit research institute that studies decision-making. “There’s a sense of personal vulnerability [in the Paris attack] that I don’t think one gets from the Boko Haram attacks,”

MORE How we failed the lost girls kidnapped by Boko Haram

A recent Pew survey tracking American news interest in foreign terrorist attacks found that Americans were overwhelmingly more interested in attacks that happen in other Western countries or attacks on children. The 2005 train bombings in London and the 2004 killing of Russian children by Chechen rebels were the most closely watched by Americans (48% saying they’d followed each event closely), followed by the 2004 bombings in Madrid and the 2007 car bomb scare in London (34% said they followed those stories). 29% of Americans closely followed the most recent Paris attacks.

The only terrorists attacks in non-Western countries that got significant American attention were attacks on destinations that attract affluent visitors. For example, 29% said they closely followed the 2008 attack of Mumbai’s Taj Hotel. 25% followed the attack on an upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, and 20% followed the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia in 2002. Recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq and at a Pakistan school didn’t make the list.

“We tend to empathize more with people that we feel are more ‘like us,'” says Marco Iacoboni, a psychiatry professor at UCLA. “I think in this case, cultural, anthropological differences can play a big role in how much we empathize with others. I jokingly call this the ‘dark side’ of empathy.”

Whether or not it’s morally right, that cognitive disconnect is exactly what the terrorists are betting on. When terrorists kill villagers in non-Western countries, it feels like one of many bad things that happen to poor people in far-away places. When terrorists attack Western cities Americans might live in, hotels Americans might stay in, or nightclubs Americans might dance in, it feels like a bad thing that could happen to you.

That’s a scary thought, which is exactly why the terrorists are doing it. But maybe we should be just as concerned about terrorists in Africa as we are of terrorists in the West. Not just because the lives of those killed in Nigeria were just as valuable as the lives of those killed in France, but because as long as people are killing in the name of Islamist extremism, or any extremism, all of us are at risk.

On Wednesday, video surfaced of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau praising the attacks in Paris, saying, “We have felt joy for what befell the people of France in terms of torment, as their blood was spilled inside their country.” It’s a chilling tribute that reminds us that when terrorism flourishes anywhere, it strengthens terrorists everywhere.

MORE Bunnies, stinkbugs, and maggots: the science of empathy

Read next: Satellite Images Show Nigerian Town ‘Almost Wiped Off the Map’ After Boko Haram Attack

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME foreign affairs

How French Intelligence Missed the Charlie Hebdo Terrorists

FRANCE-ATTACKS-MEDIA-POLICE
FRANCOIS LO PRESTI—AFP/Getty Images Members of the GIPN and RAID, French police special forces, walk in Corcy, northern France, on January 8, 2015 as they carry out searches as part of an investigation into a deadly attack the day before by armed gunmen on the Paris offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

John Mueller and Mark Stewart are the authors of the forthcoming Chasing Ghosts: The Costly Quest to Counter Terrorists in the United States.

Terrorism's very high cost combined with its very low probability make stopping terrorists as difficult as finding a needle in a hastack

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Paris, French police and intelligence agencies are being asked to explain why known militants—including one who had visited an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen several years ago—were not subject to intense surveillance before they launched last week’s terrorist attack at the offices of a French satirical weekly.

The answer is fairly simple, if less than satisfying: it costs a lot of money to do so. A perhaps somewhat high estimate is that the full-scale surveillance of an individual for a year costs some $8 million. The costs of watching even 125 people in that way would add up to $1 billion—a sum that is one-third of the entire FBI counterterrorism budget.

French police believe that, among prisoners alone, 200 would “merit attention” and 95 would be “dangerous” once released.

Nor is malpractice evident in the fact that the surveillance of some terrorist suspects is relaxed over time. Very often, would-be terrorists lose their enthusiasm for the enterprise. As terrorism specialist John Horgan has pointed out, walking away from terrorism is a common phenomenon. It is not that they necessarily abandon their radical views, but that they abandon violence as a means of expressing them.

Policing agencies must therefore pick and choose carefully. At any one time there could easily be thousands of plausible candidates for scrutiny, and many of them may well seem to be more threatening those who actually committed terrorist mayhem in Paris.

Under the influence of what might be called “the 9/11 Commission Syndrome,” in which all terrorism leads are supposed to be followed up on, government agencies chase more than 5,000 “threats” in the United States every day. The vast majority of this activity leads, of course, to nothing, and the massive enterprise is often called “ghostchasing” in the FBI, an agency that may have pursued well over 10 million leads since 2001.

The enterprise leads to only a very small number of productive investigations—there are only 100 or so arrests on terrorism charges in the United States each year, and most of these are of would-be terrorists who are either trivial or at most aspirational. However, in addition, there will be a considerable number—thousands or even tens of thousands—who are deemed suspicious enough to watch. At that point, budgetary considerations must necessarily come into play. Investigators can afford to give only a few the full surveillance treatment.

When something like the French tragedy happens, policing and intelligence agencies are urged to work even harder to ferret out potential terrorists in our midst—in other words, to heap even more hay onto the haystack. That is certainly an understandable reaction, but it almost never comes associated with even the barest elements of a rounded analysis. This should begin not with the perennial question “Are we safer?” but rather with one almost never asked: “How safe are we?”

On average, one or two people have perished per year since 2001 at the hands of Islamic terrorists in the United States and in France, less than that in Canada and Australia, a bit more in the United Kingdom. Under present circumstances, then, the likelihood a citizen in those countries will be killed by a terrorist is one in millions. Whatever the fears of French police and however wrenching the last week has been, terrorism in their country, looked at rather coldly, has not resulted in many deaths.

The question then becomes, as risk analyst Howard Kunreuther put it shortly after 9/11, “How much should we be willing to pay for a small reduction in probabilities that are already extremely low?”

In seeking to answer that key question, it should be kept in mind that terrorism often exacts considerable political, economic, emotional, and psychic damage that may not be inflicted by other hazards, natural and unnatural. Moreover, it is worth considering that terrorism in the developed world might suddenly increase in frequency and intensity. However, this would be a sharp reversal of current patterns, and the terrorist surge would have to be massive to change the basic calculus.

As with crime, perfect safety is impossible, a rather obvious point that is nonetheless often neglected. Funds directed at a hazard that kills few might sometimes be more productively directed at one that kills many.

John Mueller is a political scientist at Ohio State University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Mark Stewart is an engineer and risk analyst at the University of Newcastle in Australia. They are the authors of Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security and of the forthcoming Chasing Ghosts: The Costly Quest to Counter Terrorists in the United States.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Terrorism

5 Facts That Explain the Threat From Nigeria’s Boko Haram

A member of Boko Haram seen in a suburb of Kano, Nigeria, in 2012.
Samuel James—The New York Times/Redux A member of Boko Haram seen in a suburb of Kano, Nigeria, in 2012

How an election, an energy crisis and Boko Haram’s willingness to kill more people than Ebola puts Nigeria's challenges in context

As the world responded to the Charlie Hebdo attack with a 3.7 million person march and the most tweeted hashtag in history, a surge in insurgent savagery in northeast Nigeria drew much less international attention — but was far bloodier. “Je Suis Charlie” has been the theme of the week, but we could just as easily say “Je Suis Nigeria.”

Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, wants to establish a caliphate of its own, and a weak Nigerian government is struggling to respond. Here are five facts that put the group’s atrocities in context — and show why we’re likely to see more violence ahead of Nigeria’s Feb. 14 elections.

1. Shocking numbers in the news
On Jan. 3, Boko Haram began an assault on the town of Baga in Nigeria’s restive northeast. While the Nigerian government said 150 died in the attack, other estimates of the death toll ranged from hundreds to some 2,000 people. By some reports, 30,000 people have been displaced. On Saturday, a suicide bomb attached to a 10-year-old girl killed at least 16 people. Boko Haram also attacked a military base in neighboring Cameroon.

(The Atlantic, CNN, al-Jazeera, Foreign Policy)

2. Approval and elections
On the back of his successful handling of the Ebola crisis, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval ratings vaulted to an all-time high 74% in September. By December, this number had fallen to 55%, and in the northeast, Boko Haram’s stronghold, his approval fell 23 points that month.

Can the February presidential election even be held in Nigeria’s three northeastern states? Boko Haram wants to force the country’s electoral commission to cancel or indefinitely postpone the vote there. We’ll likely see at least some voting there, though only under heavy security, making it easier for losers to challenge the integrity of the results. In 2011, post-election violence in Nigeria killed 800 people.

(Premium Times, Human Rights Watch)

3. Boko Haram vs. Ebola
The West African Ebola outbreak has killed roughly 8,400 people so far. That’s by far the biggest Ebola outbreak ever, yet the Council on Foreign Relations has compiled data that links 10,340 violent deaths between November 2013 and November 2014 to Boko Haram–related violence. The conflict has displaced more than 1.5 million people, and with more than 20,000 square miles under its control, Boko Haram–held territory is larger than Switzerland.

(Council on Foreign Relations via NBC News, Ebola death-toll estimates via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BBC, Washington Post, Telegraph, the New Yorker)

4. The government’s energy headache
The major problems in Nigeria’s energy sector makes a robust and costly response to Boko Haram that much more difficult. A steep fall in oil prices — down more than 50% since June — is bad news for a country that relies on crude for 95% of export revenue and 75% of government revenue. Nigeria has also severe electricity generation concerns. Though Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, as of 2012, the country’s per capita electricity consumption was just 7% of Brazil’s and 3% of South Africa’s. Half of Nigeria’s 170 million people have no access to electricity whatsoever.

(The Economist, the Guardian, the U.N. Africa Renewal, Energy Information Administration)

5. A blind eye
President Jonathan has an election to win, and his government has been accused of underestimating deaths attributable to Boko Haram to deflect political criticism. Less than 24 hours after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, President Jonathan publicly declared it a “dastardly terrorist attack.” Yet nine days after the violence in Baga began, Jonathan has not publicly acknowledged that the attacks had even happened, though a spokesman for Nigeria’s Defense Ministry issued a statement questioning the “exaggerated” death-toll estimates, dismissing them as “speculation and conjecture.”

(BBC, the Atlantic, transcript of Jan. 8 campaign rally via Sahara Reporters, CNN, Foreign Policy)

Read next: Detained Washington Post Journalist Indicted in Iran

TIME National Security

Charlie Hebdo Attack Highlights the Challenge of the U.S.-Yemen Relationship

If wars on terror don’t work, does Washington’s “lighter footprint” offer a viable alternative?

There are two basic ways the U.S. has dealt with incubators of terrorism: send in the Army, or send in the drones. Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate that the former is no guarantee of success. The attack on Charlie Hebdo suggests that the latter isn’t, either.

There are good reasons to steer clear. “The U.S. needs to think hard about how much it wants to be in the middle of a shooting match between Sunni and Shia,” says Daniel Benjamin, who spent a lot of time dealing with Yemen as the State Department point man on counter-terrorism from 2009 to 2012.

And there are good reasons to get involved. “I have serious concerns for the future security of the United States and our allies,” says David Sedney, who from 2009 to 2013 ran the Pentagon office responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan and central Asia. “Al-Qaeda and its offshoots have an agenda of destroying us, and our way of life.”

Then there’s the history of benign neglect. “Going back to my time at Centcom, we always felt we needed to do more to help Yemen build its anti-terrorism capability,” says Anthony Zinni, who ran U.S. Central Command as a four-star Marine general from 1997 to 2000. “The other Gulfies complained that their coast was the source of a lot of transit and the ability of bad guys to come in.”

Things got even worse on Oct. 12, 2000, three months after Zinni stepped down, when suicide bombers in a small boat approached the USS Cole during her refueling stop in Yemen’s Aden harbor. Crammed with explosives, the al-Qaeda-sponsored blast blew a hole in Cole’s hull, killing 17 sailors. “That sort of soured things. The hearings in Congress were all about `Why Yemen—who cares?’” Zinni recalls. “We sort of neglected Yemen, and the outcome is that’s where al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has ended up.”

FRANCE-CRIME-MEDIA-SHOOTING
Anne Gelbard—AFP/Getty ImagesThe Kouachi brothers face police after their killing spree inside the offices of Charlie Hebdo Jan. 7.

Yemen’s fingerprints are all over the slaughter at the French satirical newspaper, the latest in a series of bad events involving an impoverished state tacked on to the bottom of Saudi Arabia, wedged between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Washington has cited its relationship with Yemen as breeding success in the war on terror. On Sept. 10, as President Obama announced the start of a bombing campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, he heralded his lighter approach to dealing with terror by citing Yemen.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he told the nation from the White House. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

But 11 days later, the government of Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the U.S. partner in its anti-terror fight, was driven from the capital of Sana’a by Shiite-backed Houthis, who have since gained control of several ministries. The U.S. and its Yemeni allies says the Houthis are funded by Iran, which the Houthis deny, although both Iran and the Houthis are virulently anti-American.

Yemen National Dialogue
Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesYemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi

“It’s certainly worrisome when the legitimate government of President Hadi is much weakened by the Houthis occupation of Sana’a and by the increasingly sectarian character of the conflict there,” says Benjamin says, now a foreign-policy scholar at Dartmouth College. “I’m quite worried that this is going to become a southern version of Iraq because the whole region is so inflated with sectarian strife.”

Such violence further hampers American efforts. “It’s got to be harder for the U.S. to operate there, to cooperate with the authorities there, and also to do the training that’s such a key part of our relationship,” Benjamin says.

In fact, Yemen has been falling apart since the 2011 overthrow of Ali Abdullah Saleh, its longtime leader. The resulting unrest has allowed the Sunni-rooted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to occupy much of the southern part of the country.

Four months after the fall of the capital, Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French brothers of Muslim descent, stormed Charlie Hebdo Jan. 7 and killed its editors and cartoonists, before dying in a shootout with French police two days later.

AQAP had trained both men in Yemen in 2011, Reuters reported Jan. 11, quoting anonymous Yemeni sources. The pair met with al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and spent time in the desert being trained on firearms before returning to France.

U.S.-born Awlaki—who was also U.S.-killed, by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September, 2011—has been the most inspirational Islamist for those seeking to attack U.S. targets. His legacy includes the failed 2009 underwear bomber over Detroit, the successful Fort Hood attack that same year, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It was in Yemen—where Awlaki resided from 2004 until his death—that he, as the face of AQAP, produced online videos and other media that continue to drive adherents to kill in the name of religion. The Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya has described him as the “bin Laden of the Internet.”

“This whole idea that was pioneered by Awlaki of individual acts of jihad has, in this particular environment in Europe where there’s so much anti-immigrant sentiment, growing Islamophobia, tough economic times, created the ground work for this kind of attack,” Benjamin says.

From Yemen’s perspective, dealing with Washington hasn’t always been easy, either. After an explosion 100 miles east of Sana’a killed suspected USS Cole bombing mastermind Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi in 2002, Yemeni officials blamed a car bomb for his death.

USS Cole Attack Suspect Arrested
U.S. Navy/Getty ImagesThe USS Cole following the AQAP attack.

But Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz blew that cover story two days later by acknowledging in a CNN interview that a CIA Hellfire missile had killed al-Harethi.

“This is why is it so difficult to make deals with the United States,” Yemeni Brigadier General Yahya M. Al Mutawakel, the deputy secretary general for the ruling People’s Congress party, told the Christian Science Monitor shortly after Wolfowitz spilled the beans. “This is why we are reluctant to work closely with them.” Local outrage forced the U.S. to close its embassy in Sana’a temporarily following the admission.

Back in Paris, “Tell the media that this is Al-Qaeda in Yemen!” the Kouachi brothers shouted outside the newspaper office where they had just carried out their massacre. They’d later tell the driver of a car they hijacked that their actions were driven by a thirst for revenge for Awlaki’s death.

“The leadership of AQAP directed the operation, and they have chosen their target carefully as revenge for the honor of the prophet,” a statement issued by an AQAP spokesman said the day the pair died. U.S. officials said, despite that claim, that there is no clear evidence yet that the Paris attack was ordered by AQAP.

But the group did call for attacking Charlie Hebdo and its editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, in Inspire, its English-language magazine, saying he and other journalists were “wanted dead or alive for crimes against Islam.”

There is only so much the U.S. can do to fix the country. “Yemen is a semi-failed state—some people would say its an outright failed state—and as a result its absorptive capacity for dealing with assistance across a broad range of areas is limited,” Benjamin says. “We have done an enormous amount on the security side, as well as on the humanitarian, economic and governance accounts.”

Not everyone agrees. “We’ve mishandled Yemen terribly,” Sedney says. “Al-Qaeda is stronger today in Yemen than it was a year ago.”

The U.S. anti-terror policy of a “light footprint”—drones, special-ops units and training for local forces—isn’t working there, or in Libya, Somalia or the tribal areas of Pakistan, he says.

“That kind of activity can temporarily suppress the threat to the United States and our allies,” Sedney says. “But it doesn’t solve the problem, and it also creates countervailing forces that actually make the problem worse in the long run” because such remote attacks serve to motivate survivors to seek revenge.

Sedney says the only way of transforming a society is full-bore nation building, with the time and money needed to make it flourish. It requires political muscle and popular support, something that hasn’t truly existed since the U.S. helped rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II. “That worked wonderfully for us,” he says.

Since then, “the U.S. efforts have always been halfhearted, half-resourced and focused on exit strategies rather than on success,” Sedney says. “We always want to have an exit, and the problem with real life is there’s no exit.”

Christopher Swift, a Yemen expert at Georgetown University, agrees that U.S. efforts in Yemen have been lackluster. “Our relationships, whether they’re political or military, don’t extend beyond the capital,” he says. “The bad guys are out in the field, far away from the national capital, and to the extent we claim to have relationships out in the bush, they’re based on third-party sources or overhead surveillance.”

U.S. goals in Yemen have always been tempered. “We’ve been playing for very limited, very modest objectives in Yemen,” Swift says. “Yemen is still a place where people who want inspiration, or training, or a place to hide can go. AQAP isn’t going away. The Yemenis are not in a position to make it go away, and we’re not willing to help them defeat AQAO decisively.”

Al-Qaeda’s return to center stage comes a year after it was pushed out of the spotlight by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, which has preoccupied Washington and returned U.S. troops to Iraq for the third time in 25 years.

Al-Qaeda wants that spotlight back. “There an internal competitiveness now,” Zinni says. “Everybody wants to outdo the other guy, because it helps with recruiting and funding.”

Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agrees with Zinni. “ISIL is inspiring groups that already exist to rebrand themselves, but in rebranding themselves into a more radical ideology,” he told Fox News Jan. 9. “That’s what makes it dangerous.”

Yemen remains a difficult challenge. “Once touted as a relative success story among Arab uprisings, the internationally backed transition process in Yemen has unraveled in the wake of the September 21 Houthi takeover of Sana’a,” April Longley Alley of the nonprofit Middle East Institute wrote in December. “In the north, the balance of power has tipped sharply in favor of the Houthis, a predominantly Zaydi-Shi‘i movement that took control of the capital in September and has since consolidated and expanded southward and along the Red Sea coast. Supporters of the movement see the Houthis as correcting the wrongs of the country’s 2011 transition agreement, which preserved the power and corruption of old regime elites. They praise the movement’s willingness to confront corruption, combat al-Qa‘ida, and fill a security vacuum left by a feckless government.”

But the Saudis, who have poured at least $4 billion in aid into Yemen, view the Houthis as proxies for their mortal enemy, Iran, and could halt the cash flow. “If they do pull the plug,” Alley writes, “it will almost certainly increase hardship for average Yemenis, undermine the new technocratic government formed in November, and raise the prospect of fiscal collapse in early 2015.”

Houthis take control of al-Udayn district in Ibb, Yemen
Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesHouthis have taken over wide swaths of Yemen.

Between 2011 and 2014, the U.S. pumped $343 million into Yemen, largely to fight AQAP. The U.S. is slated to provide Yemen with $125 million in arms and military training in 2015, in addition to $75 million in humanitarian aid, according to the nonprofit Security Assistance Monitor website.

“Despite their aggressive actions against AQAP, the Houthis have continually expressed anti-American rhetoric,” Seth Binder of the Security Assistance Monitor wrote Jan. 9. “And AQAP has used the Houthi’s Zaidi-Shi’a roots, a sect of Shiite Islam, to frame their battle as a Sunni-Shiite conflict. Recent reports indicate the tactic may be working as an increasing number of disenchanted Sunni tribesman are joining AQAP.”

There are near-daily attacks in Yemen now. On Jan. 7—the same day the Kouachi brothers butchered Charlie Hebdo’s masthead—a car bomb killed 40 people seeking to enroll in a police academy in Sana’a. Five suspected al-Qaeda members have been arrested in connection with the blast.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 14

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Boko Haram’s lethality is surging. The global public must take note and demand action from world leaders.

By Sophie Kleeman in Mic

2. Simple stop-and-go labels could train people to eat healthier.

By Tove Danovich in Civil Eats

3. Massive indoor farms use vastly less power and water than outdoor fields and could help address global food insecurity.

By Gloria Dickie in National Geographic

4. Military exoskeletons are becoming a reality, just not necessarily for combat.

By Patrick Tucker in Defense One

5. As U.S. retail transforms, urgent-care clinics are taking over mall real estate to meet growing demand.

By Doni Bloomfield in Bloomberg Businessweek

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Media

Historic Charlie Hebdo Issue Selling for $1,100 on eBay

The weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, on January 13, 2015 in Villabe, south of Paris, a week after two jihadist gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine, killing 12 people including some of the country's best-known cartoonists. Its cover features the prophet with a tear in his eye, holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign under the headline "All is forgiven".
Martin Bureau—AFP/Getty Images The weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan. 13, 2015, a week after two jihadist gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine, killing 12

After millions of copies of this week's issue of Charlie Hebdo sold out, the historic edition turned up for auction on eBay and reportedly drew bids reaching £760 (roughly $1,150). Asking prices have soared as high as €100,000—the equivalent of about $118,000.

Within days of a grisly massacre that killed 12 at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the surviving staffers published a new issue of the French satiric newsweekly. To say copies are in high demand is understating things: Millions of copies have sold out in France at the newsstand price of €3 (about $3.50), and around the globe buyers seeking print editions of the historic issue have turned to online auctions, with many bidding 100 or more times the list price.

Charlie Hebdo, known for publishing cartoon versions of the Prophet Muhammad and mocking various religions (among other institutions), was reportedly targeted by extremist gunmen seeking “vengeance for the Prophet.” The post-massacre edition of the newsweekly again features a cartoon version of the Prophet—an act that some consider deeply insulting to Islam—along with the words “Je Suis Charlie” (I Am Charlie) and “Tout Est Pardonne” (All Is Forgiven).

Normally, Charlie Hebdo distributes around 60,000 copies per week. For the latest edition, the print run was hiked to 3 million and has since been upped to 5 million. One week after the killing, people in France waited in long lines early in the morning to buy multiple copies of the new Charlie Hebdo. Within hours of those millions of copies selling out, issues began turning up on eBay.

On Wednesday the (U.K.) Independent reported that online auction bids have passed £500 ($760) at U.K. and U.S. versions of the auction site. The Hollywood Reporter noted that dozens of bids at one U.K.-based auction pushed the price of one copy up to £760, or $1,153. CNBC rounded up various copies of the new Charlie Hebdo on eBay listed at “Buy It Now” prices of €20,000, €50,000, even €100,000. At today’s exchange rates, those asking prices are the equivalent of around $23,500, $60,000, and $118,000, respectively.

Starting at the end of this week, a few hundred issues will be go on sale in the U.S. at a select few locations—mostly in big cities such as New York and San Francisco. Presumably, the few sellers with copies will have no trouble finding interested buyers. Charlie Hebdo isn’t normally distributed in the U.S., but as USA Today reported, magazine sellers all over the country are trying to find ways to get their own copies that can be put up for sale.

TIME Terrorism

What Those Pentagon Twitter Hackers Posted

The Pentagon
Getty Images

An avalanche of almost-classified info sows confusion

The Pentagon held its breath Monday when Islamic State sympathizers hacked into U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts and began posting internal U.S. military documents on the Twitter feed.

Could this be another Snowden job? Was any of the material classified? After all, they were posting the names, addresses and phone numbers of senior U.S. military officers.

Within an hour, the Pentagon’s sigh was audible. While there was a lot of official-looking, internal documents posted before both social-media accounts were shut down, none of it appears to have been classified.

 

"FOUO" can be found on many released Pentagon documents
“FOUO” can be found on many released Pentagon documents

Many sported the officious-sounding but non-classified For Official Use Only label.

Monday’s bullet-dodging highlights the U.S. government’s preoccupation with secrecy, and its downside: when nearly everything is classified, it can be harder to protect real secrets.

 

TwitterCentral Command’s feed was back in operation Tuesday.

Think of the government’s penchant for secrecy like an iceberg: what’s showing above the water line is that tiny share that’s classified Confidential, Secret and Top Secret.

But underwater—where, strangely, you can’t see—are more than 100 different designations that boil down to “Don’t let the public see this.”

YouTube…but its feed still featured the CyberCaliphate avatar.

For example, the non-profit Project on Government Oversight grumbled last year about the Pentagon inspector general’s routine requirement that any member of the public wishing to see some of its more interesting reports file a formal Freedom of Information Act request. “As anyone familiar with the FOIA process knows, turnaround on a request can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years,” POGO’s Neil Gordon noted. “So, it’s reasonable to assume that the DoD IG is indeed trying to bury the report to spare the Pentagon and … its … contractors the embarrassing publicity.”

The varying labels—and each agency’s rules for releasing non-classified information—is confusing, as the Obama Administration itself conceded in 2010:

At present, executive departments and agencies (agencies) employ ad hoc, agency-specific policies, procedures, and markings to safeguard and control this information, such as information that involves privacy, security, proprietary business interests, and law enforcement investigations. This inefficient, confusing patchwork has resulted in inconsistent marking and safeguarding of documents, led to unclear or unnecessarily restrictive dissemination policies, and created impediments to authorized information sharing. The fact that these agency-specific policies are often hidden from public view has only aggravated these issues.

That’s why it wants to toss all those agency-specific labels into the trash and designate them all as Controlled Unclassified Information. Perhaps the reduced profusion of almost-classified labels will help reduce confusion like Monday’s (the Pentagon, of course, has its own process underway for all its non-classified technical data). And having the word Unclassified in the designation should make it clear to even cable-news anchors what’s up.

The Administration plans to issue a proposed regulation to funnel all the labels into that single Controlled Unclassified Information designation this spring. It’s slated to be fully operational in 2018.

Obviously, in addition to craving secrecy, the government abhors alacrity.

Read next: Twitter Hacking Gives Pentagon a Black Eye

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