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Thread: Crowdsourcing on AQ and Analysis (new title)

  1. #21
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    Default More thoughts on Post Bin Laden AQ

    Here are some of my thoughts on a post Bin Laden AQ based on the poll I put together in this original post.

    “Other AQ member in AF/Pak becomes new leader of AQ Central” ended up being my selection. This was a tough decision but here was my logic in relation to the other choices.

    1. Zawahiri is 'no fun'

    Zawahiri might make a good “#2”, but I’m not sure other AQ members, the Taliban or the Haqqani network will let him ascend. I’m uncertain why exactly. However, I get the feeling that Zawahiri is always trying to outshine Bin Laden, lacks Bin Laden's charisma, and finds it hard to make friends amongst other AQ members. Zawahiri is also from the North African (EIJ) strain of AQ. Despite his legacy with the group, I think AQ Central will turn to someone from the Gulf or Central/South Asia to take the reins. Zawahiri may be talented from a terrorist sense but he has a 1990’s Al Gore feel to him and thus I believe will never rise above #2. This poses another question, if Zawahiri were not to assume the top job post-Bin Laden, would this fracture AQ’s base of North African support? Would there be damaged relations between AQIM and AQ Central? Would love to hear opinions in this!

    2. Haqqani protection won't extend forever to Zawahiri

    My guess is the Haqqani network will not provide protection for a Zawahiri-led AQ post-Bin Laden. While the Pashtunwali code for protecting guests has served Bin Laden well, I suspect that his death will bring the end of what has been an amazing level of Haqqani support. I also estimate that the Haqqani’s would not like to see Zawahiri emerge as the new leader of AQ Central, instead preferring someone with local interests (AF/PAK) of equal or greater priority than global jihad. Will the Haqqani’s support an AQ led by Zawahiri? Would love to hear opinions on this!

    3. New AQ leader needs to be AF/PAK capable

    To maintain safe haven in Pakistan, AQ Central must maintain Haqqani support, placate ISI members, retain AQ group initiative, and sustain global funding. To accomplish these four things, a current AQ member from AF/PAK other than Zawahiri will emerge to lead AQ Central. I do not believe Zawahiri will be able to do these four things post-Bin Laden. A Gulf Arab or South Asian AQ leader will have an easier time gaining local support, sustaining resource flows from donors and illicit networks, and cooperating with the ISI.

    4. AQ Central shifts focus

    Sustaining local support for AQ in AF/PAK will require AQ Central to focus on ‘near enemies’ as much as ‘far enemies’. Bin Laden’s death and the emergence of an AF/PAK centric AQ leader will bring renewed focus on central/south Asian insurgencies. AQ Central will not forget the need to attack the far enemy, but their base of popular support and wealth of recruits post-Bin Laden will come from countries in the larger AF/PAK region more than abroad.

    What am I missing?

    CWOT

  2. #22
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    CWOT, IMO your missing it because you are looking at AQ as some type of business organization as opposed to looking at it as a family organization that does business. When you begin to focus on the Blood Lines and apply pressure there I think you will find out that they are not the Big Bad Wolves we think they are. Until we do that it will just be endless wack a mole.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    CWOT, IMO your missing it because you are looking at AQ as some type of business organization as opposed to looking at it as a family organization that does business.
    keiretsu ?

  4. #24
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    AFPAK is moot to AQ's operations and mission. Much like Iraq, it is merely the ring in the bull's nose that allows a much smaller, weaker creature to exert influence over a much more powerful one.

    "terrain means nothing" is one of those insurgency 101 lessons that always gets set aside, typically when a frustrated counterinsurgent is reduced to only measuring success in terms of body count and terrain held.

    AQ's mission and organization cannot be "contained" in some location. Nor can it be "defeated" by denying it some location. The conditions AQ feeds upon lay within the conditions of insurgency that simmer in so many nations across the greater Middle East. None of these conditions are being addressed by operations in AFPAK, nor are they being addressed by security force capacity building operations in any of those afore mentioned nations. Security forces merely manage the manifestations of these conditions.

    Unlike the bull, it is within our power to simply reach up and remove the ring from our nose. But then where would the bull go? What would the bull do? At least the bull knows where to stand when held by the nose.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    keiretsu ?
    This is a really cool word. I'm going to start using this term liberally and inappropriately now that I know what it is. I'll be like all the Army officers using the word "existential" around the Pentagon from 2004-2006.

    This might make sense in a weird sort of way.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    CWOT, IMO your missing it because you are looking at AQ as some type of business organization as opposed to looking at it as a family organization that does business.
    I don't think so. I agree that it is ideology that binds these folks together. But, ideology binds better when there is money coming from the top. Bin Laden was successful because he disbursed funds to his underlings. Some will be devout until the end simply due to ideology. When Bin Laden ties, resources will get tight, ambition will breed discontent, and the family organization will have to adjust to stay alive. Ideology and shared suffering will keep the inner circle of AQ together. Beyond that, I'm not sure. Zawahiri doesn't have the same gravity as UBL and I'm uncertain how the Haqqani network will respond to a Zawhiri led AQ. I don't think the family will run the same. UBL rose to power because he didn't follow the family's wishes, especially the preferences of Azzam. What's to say another underling won't seek a new direction once Bin Laden dies?

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWOT View Post
    I don't think so. I agree that it is ideology that binds these folks together. But, ideology binds better when there is money coming from the top. Bin Laden was successful because he disbursed funds to his underlings. Some will be devout until the end simply due to ideology. When Bin Laden ties, resources will get tight, ambition will breed discontent, and the family organization will have to adjust to stay alive.
    CWOT,I mean literal family ties,not a pseudo family organization, more like the Old Mafia. IMO AQ is a collection of family members, some that were supported for generations by Arab wealth and they provide loyalty and support so long as it advances the main Arab families tribal power. The family wealth is very much the key IMO. Yes perhaps many of the low level guerrillas are just street thugs fighting for money but the ideology is more of a cover story IMO, but largely elite Arab Families benefit from AQ and the WOT/GWOT/LWOT or whatever we are calling it now days.

    Remember the old 3 rings of power concept from Italy? I bet there is not a whole lot of difference in how the AQ and AQ types organizations work.
    Last edited by slapout9; 01-17-2011 at 12:22 AM. Reason: stuff

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    A paper I have coming out soon will explore this in greater detail, but here is a snapshot side-by-side comparison of what we've been doing for 60+ years in "Containment" with what I propose is more appropriate for the emerging world with "Empowerment."
    I imagine there's a great deal more to this than the table provided, but I'll note this. The containment column consists entirely of language that is either neutrally descriptive or plainly critical. "Empowerment," setting aside the obvious positive connotations behind the name alone, is described in terms that are to a point laudatory.
    PH Cannady
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWOT View Post
    This is a really cool word. I'm going to start using this term liberally and inappropriately now that I know what it is. I'll be like all the Army officers using the word "existential" around the Pentagon from 2004-2006.

    This might make sense in a weird sort of way.
    On the other hand, you'll sound like a Forbes throwback to the early 1990s. The term itself was not natively coined and held meaning largely for Japanese and foreign business journalists attempting to discuss arrangement of the financial industry in Japan. It lacks the hard and fast tangibility of its antecedent term--zaibatsu--and like its father the word has become increasingly dated.

    On the other hand, we have lots of colloquial English that works just fine to describe al Qaeda's structure: "gang," "clique," "syndicate," "fraternity," etc.
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

  10. #30
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    What one is probably missing is that one is analysing the issue from a western standpoint i.e. on a business matrix.

    The important aspect is - religion; and that too a religion that assumes that it is the only religion that is ideal for mankind and connected is the fact is that this religion, rightly or wrongly, feels that it has not got its rightful place, owing to a joint conspiracy of all other religions in the world.

    This feeling is not of recent history. It has been festering ever since the collapse of the great Islamic Empire with immense intellectual achievements that stretched from Spain in the West to most countries in the East and also the disintegration of the Caliphate.

    Closure to time, the creation of Israel, right under the nose of the Muslims, then bolstering it and finally the humiliation of the drubbing the united Muslim countries repeatedly experienced at the hands of tiny Israel, which true to the mindset, blamed it on a western conspiracy. The failure to wrest Kashmir from India, inspite of western support at the UN, added insult to injury to the mindset.

    However, given the US strategic requirement and hence assistance, the overthrow of the Soviets in Afghanistan by Islamic 'warriors', rejuvenated dreams of the Caliphate and the glorious past of the Islamic Empire and that the Islamists were on the ascendancy.

    While all what happened in Afghanistan was because of the efforts of the Mujahideens, they were nevertheless a fragmented lot without any real united command. Each of the fragments jockeyed to be supreme to no avail.
    Hence, there was no real and cognisable victory of Islam over the rest.

    AQ and OBL provided the illusory leadership of the Islamic world at war. Not because of any spectacular victory in the local arena, but because of 9/11 where the Great White Satan - the fountainhead of all conspiracy against Islam was brought to its knees by OBL. Hence, he became a rallying point.

    However, true to islam, temporal power overtook the spiritual. While OBL reigned supreme as the messiah, his and his organisation's power and achievements got diluted as the other factions jockey for power and because of relentless pressure of the US, wherein the open support of certain governments got pushed to the background and even coerced into attacking OBL and his organisation.

    Thus, while OBL has become somewhat irrelevant, yet one does not know what is the residual influence his organisation has as of now.

    Notwithstanding OBL and his organisation, other factions have come to the forefront and are effective.

    Therefore, it is moot point, if these factions, having tasted blood and power, will abdicate these to OBL's organisation without a quid pro quo.

    Hence, maybe the focus of the WOT should not only focus on the AQ, but also on the various other factions that are operating and the synergy that they created in tandem with the AQ operating in the background.

    And the effect of Islam and the desire to return to the glorious days should be also cranked in, in any analysis.

    The fact that the Pakistani Army and the ISI are half hearted in their effort on the WOT is an indicator that Islam continues to be a paramount factor since they willingly accept the chaos and mayhem and assassination of their Governors and Ministers and leaders, apart from the near daily bombings, in their country caused by the fundamentalist flag bearers of Islam.

  11. #31
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    Default Defining the enemy & focus

    Hi Ray,

    Nice to see that you have resumed posting - providing us with content shaped by your Indian Army career.

    As to your comment:

    from Ray
    Hence, maybe the focus of the WOT should not only focus on the AQ, but also on the various other factions that are operating and the synergy that they created in tandem with the AQ operating in the background.
    you are in good company. Our domestic legal mandate to use armed force against AQ is flexible enough to cover associated groups - as well as nations and persons.

    The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress and signed by President Bush, provides in most pertinent part:

    ...That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
    Pub. L. No. 107-40, § 2(a), 115 Stat. 224 (2001).

    At times, our focus has strayed from the AUMF.

    We also have some times overemphased aspects of the ideology involved (Islam), and other times have underemphased that ideology. One might also question whether we have overemphasized some AQ associates (or alleged AQ associates) at the cost of underemphasing other groups.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default A timely judicial comment

    Judge Silberman's brief comment in Esmail v Obama (see Another brick in the wall for the entire court's findings) reinforces the suggestions made above by Ray and me;

    SILBERMAN, Senior Circuit Judge, concurring:
    ......
    First, to note that the government at oral argument agreed that even if petitioner could show he resolutely declined to “join” al Qaeda or the Taliban, and thus could not be said to be a part of either, so long as evidence showed he fought along side of al Qaeda, the Taliban, or with associated forces he would be covered by the Authorization for Use of Military Force. District courts, in that sort of case, need not strain to find a petitioner is “a part of al Qaeda.” See Hatim v. Gates, --- F.3d ---, 2011 WL 553273, at *1 (D.C. Cir. 2011); Awad v. Obama, 608 F.3d 1, 9 n.1 (D.C Cir. 2010); Al-Bihani v. Obama, 590 F.3d 866, 871-72 (D.C. Cir. 2010). [1]

    [1] Of course, “the purely independent conduct of a freelancer” – one who does not fight alongside of, or actively support, al Qaeda, the Taliban, or an associated force – “is not enough” to justify detention. Bensayah v. Obama, 610 F.3d 718, 725 (D.C. Cir. 2010).
    While this is "dicta" in this particular case, it does provide guidance for a plausible argument in a case where a loosely associated group is involved.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 04-09-2011 at 01:03 AM.

  13. #33
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    Default Crowdsourcing AQ's Strategy 2011-2012

    I think the summer of 2011 through the end of 2012 will be the most important period for al Qaeda (AQ) and Western Counterterrorism (CT) efforts since 2002-2003.

    I've been working on analysis for what AQ might do over the next year and been examining crowdsourcing as an alternative for anticipating terrorist group strategies. I've been a huge fan of Small Wars over the past few years since I started writing short articles here and I really appreciate the feedback and insights I get from readers. I'm trying to figure out a way to use these feedback systems to narrow down on key terrorism questions. If I am certain of anything, it's that I alone will not be able to anticipate all of AQ's actions correctly. So I ask for your help! I'd truly like to capture the perspective of those that read and visit Small Wars.

    This week, I set up a crowdsourcing poll trying to answer the following question:
    “What will be al Qaeda’s strategy from the summer of 2011 through the end of 2012?”

    I set up a poll of 11 questions which I think will take less than 3 minutes to answer. If you can spare the time to vote, I would appreciate any and all insights.

    Here is the link to the poll:
    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/selectedwisdomAQstrategy

    And if you think the poll is a worthwhile effort, please forward to any and all that might be interested. Crowdsourcing takes a crowd, so all are welcome.

    I'll hopefully start publishing the results in about ten days when I aggregate the data. And I'll make sure to post the results here as well. Goal is everyone gets the collective insights from the collective efforts of voters. Thanks in advance to those that take the time to vote and please let me know here if you think I can improve the survey/process in any way.

    BTW, nothing in it for me. No money, hidden agenda, etc. My wife calls my poll the "Household Chore Avoidance Project", which is probably true and thus worth the effort.

    Thanks.
    CWOT

  14. #34
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    Default Thanks for the feedback in this thread

    Folks, thanks for the feedback on this initial thread.
    I've used it to help set up a crowdsourcing experiment on AQ's future strategy and just started a new thread on that concept in this folder called.

    "Crowdsourcing AQ's Strategy 2011-2012"

    Would like to get your feedback and thanks in advance for any and all thoughts.

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    SWC is an amazing thing. Had a great response rate over night. Thanks to those that contributed to the AQ Strategy poll.

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    Default Vote: What will terrorism be post Bin Laden?

    All,

    Thanks for your support on recent discussions with regards to Bin Laden.

    In light of today's events, I'm returning to the questions. I asked here back in January.

    What will be the consequences of Usama Bin Laden's death?

    I've launched an automated survey and would very much enjoy any and all opinions. Here is the link to the survey:

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/aqafterbinladen

    Thanks in advance for any and all responses and I will make sure to cross post the polling results here in about a week.

    RLTW,

    Clint

    Here's a preview of the first question on the poll:

    Overall theme of the poll:
    If Usama Bin Laden were killed in 2011, would it matter to the global jihadi movement?

    Question #1:

    What will be the chief consequence of Usama Bin Laden’s death to the global jihadi movement? (Only pick One!)

    -Status Quo- No substantial change in AQ activity
    -AQ Central directed plots against U.S. and its Allies decrease substantially
    -AQAP becomes new AQ Central
    -Some other AQ member in AF/PAK becomes leader of AQ Central
    -AQ Central loses its chief sponsor, the Haqqani network
    -AQ fundraising increases substantially
    -AQ fundraising diminishes substantially
    -Taliban more reluctant to make peace with Karzai
    -AQ-inspired recruitment slows substantially
    -AQ-inspired recruitment accelerates substantially
    -AQ Central directed plots against U.S. and its Allies increase substantially
    -Taliban pursue a peace settlement with Karzai
    -AQ Central shifts focus to pursue guerilla warfare in Central Asia
    Here's more background on the first version of this poll.

    Does Bin Laden Matter?
    By Clint Watts on January 2, 2011

  17. #37
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    1. After Usama Bin Laden's death, what should be the primary focus of U.S. counterterrorism operations and policy?
    Goldman Sachs

  18. #38
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    I think the following will occur to AQ.

    There will be a significant power struggle as the agreed upon leadership transition process falters upon the will of others who don't know about it. (always an issue in a cell structure). This power struggle between new and old leadership will result in internal conflict that will be hard for us to see, and rampant exterior conflict with outsiders. The mitigating and maturing influence of Bin Laden (a taciturn and mature conservative) will be undone for some amount of time. He liked big splash low volume work for shock effect. Every youngster with a "plan" will move forward now that the calming/restraining influence has been lifted. In other words the wheels come off until the internal power struggle normalizes for AQ.

    Hey like intelligence it is a guess.
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  19. #39
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    Well played Bourbon!

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    Every youngster with a "plan" will move forward now that the calming/restraining influence has been lifted. In other words the wheels come off until the internal power struggle normalizes for AQ
    Yes, in the immediate aftermath, chaos will breed some unfocused violence. My guess is there will be an initial spike in weak random attacks by wannabe's or affiliates trying to make their mark. But, unless AQAP can pull off a big attack in the next year or so, I think there will be a general decline over the next 2-5 years.

    I put a question in the last week's poll essentially asking, when will upstart terror groups cease to re-brand as AQ affiliates? I think this is when we will know we have won against AQ's social movement.

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