Will It Fly?, by Adam Ciralsky, Vanity Fair
The Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapons system ever developed. No one can say for certain when the plane will work as advertised. Even the general now in charge of the program can't believe we got to this point.
With F-15s and F-16s circling overhead, I drove to the main gate at Eglin, where I was escorted through security and over to the air force's 33rd Fighter Wing, which is home to the F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, and some of the men who fly it. The Joint Strike Fighter, or J.S.F., is the most expensive weapons system in American history. The idea behind it is to replace four distinct models of aging "fourth generation" military jets with a standardized fleet of state-of-the-art "fifth generation" aircraft. Over the course of its lifetime, the program will cost approximately $1.5 trillion. Walking around the supersonic stealth jet for the first time, I was struck by its physical beauty. Whatever its shortcomings-and they, like the dollars invested in the plane, are almost beyond counting-up close it is a dark and compelling work of art. To paraphrase an old Jimmy Breslin line, the F-35 is such a bastardized thing that you don't know whether to genuflect or spit.
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The New Terrorist Training Ground, by Yochi Dreazen, the Atlantic.
Why the new face of terror is likely to be African.
The foreign militants battling Malian and French troops across northern Mali are part of a little-noticed but hugely important shift. American policy makers have long treated the Middle East and South Asia as the main battlegrounds of the war on terror, but those regions are quickly being joined by Africa, which is now home to some of the largest and most active Islamist militias in the world. The Islamist extremist group Boko Haram used a massive car bomb to demolish a UN compound in Nigeria in 2011, leaving at least 23 people dead, and has killed hundreds of other Nigerian citizens and security personnel over the past two years as it has fought to impose Sharia law in the oil-rich state. The Somali militia known as al-Shabaab has carried out suicide bombings throughout the beleaguered capital of Mogadishu and in neighboring countries like Uganda. Radicalized Africans have been involved in terror plots in the continental United States, taking advantage of the fact that they typically attract less scrutiny than Arabs or Pakistanis.
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Omar and Me, by J.M. Berger, Foreign Policy
My strange, frustrating relationship with an American terrorist.
I don't know exactly when I began to worry I had become friends with a terrorist.
Believe it or not, this kind of thing happens to people relatively often. For instance, after the Boston Marathon bombing, dozens of friends of the surviving suspect, college student Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, lined up in front of cameras to express horror that their friend had been so different from the person they thought they knew.
But they hadn't known.
From the moment I first saw him in a video in April 2009, I knew Omar Hammami was a terrorist who had embraced al Qaeda's global campaign. And when he first became aware of me, he knew I was on the other side of the apocalyptic conflict he imagined, an unabashedly Western writer and analyst working to shine a light on terrorist operations and violent ideologies.
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