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Thread: Al-Qaeda in Africa (merged thread)

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    Default Al-Qaeda in Africa (merged thread)

    At the Threats Watch blog - Grapes of Wrath: America's Recipe for al-Qaeda's Victory by Steve Schippert.

    The US State Department Supports All But Somalis in Somalia

    It’s ‘The Other Spring Offensive.’ In order to create an eastern toehold on the Horn of Africa and create an Islamist Crescent from Mogadishu to Morocco, al-Qaeda is recommitting to re-taking Somalia through their once-ousted Southern Garrison, the Islamic Courts Union. With al-Qaeda’s clear and overt strategic aims on conquering Somalia, one would think that, at the very least, America’s economic might would be employed to support Somalis practically begging for the tools to do the bulk of the fighting themselves on all fronts - militarily, governmentally and socially. Think again.

    This week, I wrote an analytical commentary for FrontPage Magazine titled Do or Die in Somalia that looked at the situation on the ground there but, more importantly, also at America’s inexplicably disengaged stance in a clear front-line battle with al-Qaeda. Given that al-Qaeda’s goal is to destroy the UN-recognized Transitional Federal Government and replace it with an Islamist-run state governed by strict adherence to Shari’a law, this American disengagement is difficult to fathom...

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    U.S. allowed Ethiopian arms deal with North Korea
    By Michael R. Gordon and Mark Mazzetti
    Published: April 7, 2007

    Three months after the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of the country's nuclear test, Bush administration officials allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the North, in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions, according to senior American officials.

    The United States allowed the arms delivery to go through in January in part because Ethiopia was in the midst of a military offensive against Islamic militias inside Somalia, a campaign that aided the American policy of combating religious extremists in the Horn of Africa.

    American officials said that they were still encouraging Ethiopia to wean itself from its longstanding reliance on North Korea for cheap Soviet-era military equipment to supply its armed forces and that Ethiopian officials appeared receptive. But the arms deal is an example of the compromises that result from the clash of two foreign policy absolutes: the Bush administration's commitment to fighting Islamic radicalism and its effort to starve the North Korean government of money it could use to build up its nuclear weapons program.

    Since the Sept. 11 attacks, as the administration has made counterterrorism its top foreign policy concern, the White House has sometimes shown a willingness to tolerate misconduct by allies that it might otherwise criticize, like human rights violations in Central Asia and antidemocratic crackdowns in a number of Arab nations.

    It is also not the first time that the Bush administration has made an exception for allies in their dealings with North Korea. In 2002, Spain intercepted a ship carrying Scud missiles from North Korea to Yemen. At the time, Yemen was working with the United States to hunt members of Al Qaeda operating within its borders, and after its government protested, the United States asked that the freighter be released. Yemen said at the time that it was the last shipment from an earlier missile purchase and would not be repeated.

    American officials from a number of agencies described details of the Ethiopian episode on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal Bush administration deliberations.

    Several officials said they first learned that Ethiopia planned to receive a delivery of military cargo from North Korea when the country's government alerted the American Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, after the adoption on Oct. 14 of the United Nations Security Council measure imposing sanctions.

    "The Ethiopians came back to us and said, 'Look, we know we need to transition to different customers, but we just can't do that overnight,' " said one American official, who added that the issue had been handled properly. "They pledged to work with us at the most senior levels."

    American intelligence agencies in late January reported that an Ethiopian cargo ship that was probably carrying tank parts and other military equipment had left a North Korean port.

    The value of the shipment is unclear, but Ethiopia purchased $20 million worth of arms from North Korea in 2001, according to American estimates, a pattern that officials said had continued. The United States gives Ethiopia millions of dollars of foreign aid and some nonlethal military equipment.

    After a brief debate in Washington, the decision was made not to block the arms deal and to press Ethiopia not to make future purchases.
    ...
    much more here:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/...07ETHIOPIA.php

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    Default African Jihad - Bin Laden's quest for the Horn of Africa

    Anyone read this book? I'm curious and might pick it up, but would like to know if it's worth the effort. These days, I only get to read on the throne...

    The African Jihad is a fascinating examination of the efforts by international jihadists to bring about their grand vision of Islamist hegemony in the greater Horn of Africa region. These efforts began with the collaboration between Al Qaeda and the National Islamic Front (NIF) government of Sudan. The NIF under the ideological leadership of Hasan al-Turabi and Al Qaeda under Osama bin Laden sought to channel the social, political and economic grievances of Muslim communities into a global jihadist narrative, and the NIF and Al Qaeda worked hand in glove to set up and/or support several, coordinated jihadist movements in the countries of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. The combined Al Qaeda-NIF regional onslaught bequeathed a legacy of proxy wars and terrorism against Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda and Al Qaeda terror operations in Kenya and Tanzania. Dr. Gregory Alonso Pirio takes the story of Horn of Africa jihadism up to the defeat of Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia by the combined forces of Ethiopia and the Somali Transitional Federal Government in early 2007; Dr. Pirio demonstrates how a faction within Somalia’s Islamic Courts movement with historic ties to Al Qaeda had come to dominate the Islamic Court’s movement and threatened wider regional insecurity and the expansion of the Middle East conflict into Africa.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-26-2018 at 05:52 PM. Reason: 15,309v when a stand alone thread

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    Default al-Qaeda's rebirth in Africa

    Today, Halting Al-Qaeda's African Rebound, a six part article appeared in Canada's Troy Media. The article is worth a long read. Great background and insightful.

    Find it at http://www.troymedia.com/blog/2011/1...ebound-part-6/

    In part 2 Wilner states Of the many and varied violent non-state African groups that share some of al Qaeda’s ideological principles and practical goals, two currently stand out: al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Shabaab. Other prominent regional organizations, like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), al-Itihaad al-Islaami (AIAI), Hizbul Islam, or the Armed Islamic Group (popularly known by its French name Groupe Islamique Armé, GIA) have largely been destroyed, disbanded, or rolled into other groups. While it is plausible that remnants of these organizations will regroup or that new terrorist organizations will be formed, the focus of international counterterrorism in Africa rests primarily on combatting and containing AQIM and al Shabaab."

    I want to spend a lot of time on this important article, then get back here with perceptions. I trust some of you will read and contribute to the discuss too.

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    Default Who and what exactly is Al Qaeda?

    I'm asking that question because I'm not sure.

    Some radical Islamic extremists are armed and have grudges against their home governments and the Western powers that support them, but does that make them Al Qaeda?

    Boko Haram for example, is not Al Qaeda and even if Boko Haram is associated with Al Qaeda, its association with Al Qaeda is not its defining characteristic. (I have discussed this at length in another thread).

    Western analysts really need to step outside the narrow "war on terrorism" framework and appreciate the real sources of instability and violence in the Sahel and the Maghreb.

    As long as there is widespread poverty and unemployment and as long as Islamist organisations continue to be the best positioned to provide social services. As long as governments are perceived as being weak and corrupt and as long as the West is perceived as being biased in support of Israel and the US is seen as waging war on Muslim countries - there will be terrorism against Western interests.

    To deal with the so-called "Al Qaeda", the World needs to (1) appreciate it is the economy, stupid (2) understand that you cannot solve these problems with drones and (3) prepare for a long struggle.

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    It has always been hard to tell the true believers from the opertunists who use the "AQ" label for personal gain and all the shades between those extremes. It also doesn't help when Islamist groups get arbitrarily get lumped together by lazy and/or ignorant analysts or commentators. Even among the true believers there are important distinctions to be made. Boko Haram, for instance, has made public statements affiliating itself with AQ and it has certainly shown a strong willingness to use violence but has shown little interest transnational terrorism. Although ostensibly an Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram seems to derive more of its support from the frustration felt by young, poor and unemployed (a dangerous combination in any account) Muslims over the economic inequality between the majority Muslim north and Christian dominated south of Nigeria. That restive population has given Boko Haram a powerful weapon but leaves them vulnerable to positive economic changes in the north (sadly probably a distant hope right now).
    “Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”

    Terry Pratchett

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    I'm asking that question because I'm not sure.
    It's a good question and it needs to be asked more often. All too often groups with quite peripheral links to AQ are simply classified as "AQ franchises", and it's assumed that they are extensions of AQ or have adopted the entire AQ agenda. That's not always the case, and we need to be more discriminating.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    Western analysts really need to step outside the narrow "war on terrorism" framework and appreciate the real sources of instability and violence in the Sahel and the Maghreb.
    Agreed, but Western analysts also have to understand that not all instability and violence are any of their business or require a Western response. Unless it poses a direct threat to us - and not all Islamist or "AQ-linked" groups do - we're generally going to be better off letting it be. That may sound callous, but if we wade in and start trying to address instability and violence across these areas we are signing up for way more than we're prepared to deal with, and we're likely to step in the scheisse in a major way... IMO of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    As long as there is widespread poverty and unemployment and as long as Islamist organisations continue to be the best positioned to provide social services. As long as governments are perceived as being weak and corrupt and as long as the West is perceived as being biased in support of Israel and the US is seen as waging war on Muslim countries - there will be terrorism against Western interests.

    To deal with the so-called "Al Qaeda", the World needs to (1) appreciate it is the economy, stupid (2) understand that you cannot solve these problems with drones and (3) prepare for a long struggle.
    Largely true, but understanding these things and doing something about them are two very different things. There's not a whole lot the US, the West, or "the World" can do to change African economies: they suffer more than anything from bad governance, and that has to change from the inside. Certainly it's true that "governments are perceived as being weak and corrupt", and that perception is accurate: governments are weak and corrupt. Again, that's not something that can be changed from the outside.

    I'd agree that a more neutral stance toward Israel (already beginning) and less war in the Muslim world would be goals worth pursuing. I do not think that winding down Iraq and Afghanistan would reduce the probability of terrorist attack on the US, though. If anything, reduced US intervention is likely to produce new attacks aimed at provoking new intervention, because AQ can't survive without intervention.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Agreed, but Western analysts also have to understand that not all instability and violence are any of their business or require a Western response. Unless it poses a direct threat to us - and not all Islamist or "AQ-linked" groups do - we're generally going to be better off letting it be. That may sound callous, but if we wade in and start trying to address instability and violence across these areas we are signing up for way more than we're prepared to deal with, and we're likely to step in the scheisse in a major way... IMO of course.
    I agree with you.

    I don't claim to be an expert on Somalia, but I cannot see the positive impact of the long US involvement in Somalia. Secondly, there seems to be a new twist to Boko Haram - certain elements of Boko Haram could be thugs hired by Northern Nigerian politicians. It seems to be a tangled mess that even the best Nigerian analysts find difficult to understand.

    It is not Al Qaeda and it doesn't have a simple solution.

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    Although ostensibly an Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram seems to derive more of its support from the frustration felt by young, poor and unemployed (a dangerous combination in any account) Muslims over the economic inequality between the majority Muslim north and Christian dominated south of Nigeria. That restive population has given Boko Haram a powerful weapon but leaves them vulnerable to positive economic changes in the north (sadly probably a distant hope right now).
    It is not that far-fetched. Economic development is triggered by enlightened self-interest. We are rapidly reaching that tripping point. Our politicians would be stupid not to understand that 30 - 40 million unemployed/underemployed youth are a ticking time bomb that would task the capabilities of the entire US military, not to talk about the Nigerian military.

    There several possible scenarios. One could be payment of a monthly stipend to the most troublesome unemployed youth (the rudiments of a social security system) or our politicians could finally summon the courage to do something about the Northern Nigeria.

    Whatever happens, doing nothing is not an option, and our politicians know it. What they decide to do will depend on what they perceive to be the least risky course of action.

    On a lighter note, Boko Haram has threatened to attack the offices of Nigerian political parties and the reaction on the street is like, when can you start?. Political party offices are being feverishly painted over.

    Most Officials and Staff of major political parties in the Federal Capital Territory yesterday avoided their offices apparently because of the threat by the Boko Haram sect to attack political party offices.

    The sect had on Thursday threatened to focus its attacks on political party offices and some key officials of the Government, including President Goodluck Jonathan and the Senate President, David Mark.

    A visit to the headquarters of the Peoples' Democratic Party at the Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja revealed that most of the offices were deserted.

    The situation was the same when our reporters visited the headquarter of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC located in Utako Area of Abuja and that of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in Zone 6.
    http://allafrica.com/stories/201111260116.html

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    Default US Congress holds hearing on Boko Haram

    US Congress heard from experts on Boko Haram. Yet to see the full transcript, but the experts don't see Boko Haram as an immediate threat to the United States.

    A congressional panel has held a hearing on the threat to the U.S. homeland from the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram, based in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has attracted more scrutiny after bombing the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerina capital Abuja, killing more than 20 people on August 26, 2011.

    One of the Africa experts that testified at the House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on the threat from the radical Islamist group to the United States is Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council of the United States. He told the panel that the name "Boko Haram" is made up of Hausa and Arabic words and translates roughly as "Western eductation is a sin."

    "Thus Boko Haram is not only a name, but a slogan, to the effect that Western education and such products that arise from it are sacrilege," said Pham.

    The Boko Haram militants say they are fighting for the creation of a Sharia-led nation in the north of Nigeria, and they do not recognize the authority of Nigeria's constitution or President Goodluck Jonathan.

    Ricardo Laremont is a Professor of Political Science at Binghamton University in the state of New York. He explained the group's traditional operating methods.
    Link:http://www.voanews.com/english/news/...134782893.html
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-01-2011 at 12:03 PM. Reason: Link moved to this post

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    US Congress heard from experts on Boko Haram. Yet to see the full transcript, but the experts don't see Boko Haram as an immediate threat to the United States.



    Link:http://www.voanews.com/english/news/...134782893.html
    I would not see Boko Haram as a threat to the USA either, at this time. Currently it is the most active terrorist group in the world in terms of violent events and deaths. All has been located in Nigeria, yet most were surprised to see them strike in Abuja and and military and UN installations.

    The article that started this thread sees more and more dialogue and training, if not coordination, between AQIM, al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. The first two have declare linkage to Al-Qaeda.

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    I understand that. But let's take a step back.

    You have a region, the Sahel, extending from the Atlantic to Indian Oceans. You have ancient trade routes between the Sudan (black Africa) and the Maghreb and you also have religious ties.

    That area is a continuum, so there will be coordination between Islamist groups with common aims.

    My main point is that these groups are a product of real local grievances that are yet to be addressed. AQIM is a product of the 1991 election in Algeria. Boko Haram is a product of fifty years of appalling governance in Northern Nigeria.

    I am not terribly concerned about whether Boko Haram is a threat to Nigeria or the United States. What concerns me is the ability of the entire Global community to deal with the conditions that led to the rise of organisations like Boko Haram. (We've lost over 13,000 people to communal violence since 1998, so Boko Haram won't significantly change the situation in Nigeria).

    It is a bit like labelling Al Shabab as Somalia's greatest threat. No, Al Shabab is merely a symptom of catastrophic state failure.

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    Default Keep AQ in Africa in proportion

    KingJaja and others,

    I am sceptical that AQ has been reborn in Africa and in other places. The original linked, Canadian article does not raise any new points, although it does emphasise the dangers facing Canada from AQ-inspired terrorism.

    Some of the discussion on AQ in Africa reminds me of the thread discussing David Killcullen's book 'The Accidental Guerilla' and the association of local insurgency to the AQ 'brand'. There are several threads on Killcullen's work, this one is appropriate:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7224

    There are also the three threads debating the impact of Osama Bin Laden's removal, for a wider perspective, although I have m' doubts Africa figured much.

    For the moment let us leave aside the impact in Africa.

    Are the AQ insurgencies based in Africa, currently mainly in the "badlands", amidst small isolated populations, with very limited access to capabilities which can target the 'Far Enemy', a 'clear & present danger' to the core interests of countries like Canada, France and the USA?

    No IMHO.

    Yes they can be an occasional danger, like the 'Underpants Bomber', although he is not a good example as his capability appears to be from the Yemen. Nor are the Somali pirates more than a painful nuisance to world shipping and I remain unconvinced Al-Shabab is "pulling the strings" of the pirates.

    As the 'Far Enemy' currently faces far more significant threats to national and collective interests, which are notably economic and fiscal, their attention span and focus is nearer to home.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    What concerns me is the ability of the entire Global community to deal with the conditions that led to the rise of organisations like Boko Haram.
    I don't think there's anything at all "the global community" can do about these conditions. In the case of Boko Haram, the conditions that produce the organization are for the Nigerian Government to deal with, or to not deal with and suffer the consequences. There's no problem with resources: the Nigerian Government has plenty of money. The problem is will and capacity, and if the government in place lacks the will and capacity to act there is nothing "the global community" can do.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I don't think there's anything at all "the global community" can do about these conditions. In the case of Boko Haram, the conditions that produce the organization are for the Nigerian Government to deal with, or to not deal with and suffer the consequences. There's no problem with resources: the Nigerian Government has plenty of money. The problem is will and capacity, and if the government in place lacks the will and capacity to act there is nothing "the global community" can do.

    Sure this is first and foremost a Nigerian problem, to be solved by Nigerians. Or in the cases of AQIM and al-Shabaab they are Sahelian and East Africa problems. HOWEVER, AQ has most of its members hidden away in desert hills of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen (to name a few) yet they have inflicted global damage while being protected by the locals.

    In a Associated Press article out today we can see that AQIM has recognized the need to aid the poor locals to gain their hearts and minds.
    "With almost no resistance, al-Qaida has implanted itself in Africa's soft tissue, choosing as its host one of the poorest nations on earth. The terrorist group has create a refuge in this remote land through a strategy of winning hearts and minds, described in rare detail by seven locals in regular contact with the cell. The villagers agreed to speak for the first time to an Associated Press team in the "red zone," deemed by most embassies to be too dangerous for foreigners to visit." see entire article at http://www.newser.com/article/d9rdg0...in-africa.html

    The world's poor are a easy target for terrorists to recruit and gain their confidence. The world, not necessarily governments only, must reach out to help, listen to and walk along side the poor or there will be much unrest ahead.

    I remember Robert Kaplan of the Atlantic Monthly predicting anarchy in West Africa back in 1994...see article http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...-anarchy/4670/ What we may be seeing is a second wave of the anarchy with the same, unsolved poverty issues driving it.

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    I remember Robert Kaplan of the Atlantic Monthly predicting anarchy in West Africa back in 1994...see article http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...-anarchy/4670/ What we may be seeing is a second wave of the anarchy with the same, unsolved poverty issues driving it.
    I like how Kaplan also foresees the coming breakup of Canada in the cited article as well, complete with the absorption by the U.S. of its English-speaking portions.

    Kaplan's hobbyhorse has always been the artificial nature of the nation-state in comparison to supposedly bedrock culture or religion - failing to note that cultures and religions are also artificial, malleable human constructs.

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    Thanks for this great article. I agree with what he wrote because I lived through it. In 1994, we were recovering from the aftermath of violence precipitated by the annulment of the 1993 presidential election. The Yoruba ethnic group took to the streets and rose in opposition to the dominant Hausa-Fulani. That era led to the rise of ethnic militias like the Odua People's Congress - (you might hear about them in future).

    In 1995 Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged and the Niger Delta militancy really took off. I remember quite vividly a conversation in a taxi from Port Harcourt to Enugu in 1998. The anger was palpable and the consensus was that Nigeria was finished as a nation.

    I was in Lagos in the late nineties and I witnessed a breakdown of law and order on an almost daily basis. I woke up to see the mangled remains of lynched robbery suspects and I also saw actual lynching taking place many times. The state began to break down and ethnic militia like the Odua People's Congress in the South West and the Bakassi Boys in the South East were called in to maintain law and order. Their methods were less than orthodox, but they had widespread support in the slums of Lagos, Onitsha and Aba.

    All across West Africa and the Sahel, the state is being desperately weakened. West Africans structure their lives in such a way as to be independent of the state. For example, a study by the University of Newcastle showed that a whopping 75% of all children attending schools in Lagos, attend private schools. Nothing illustrates state failure as starkly as that statistic.

    If the government cannot provide public goods, someone else will. And Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and Salafists are well placed to exploit these gaps.

    Aid money from the West usually pours into government establishments, but governments are increasingly weak and incompetent. So the money is usually wasted.

    I particularly like this, it illustrates the difficulty of dealing with groups like AQIM.

    The fiction that the impoverished city of Algiers, on the Mediterranean, controls Tamanrasset, deep in the Algerian Sahara, cannot obtain forever. Whatever the outcome of the peace process, Israel is destined to be a Jewish ethnic fortress amid a vast and volatile realm of Islam. In that realm, the violent youth culture of the Gaza shantytowns may be indicative of the coming era.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chowing View Post
    The world's poor are a easy target for terrorists to recruit and gain their confidence. The world, not necessarily governments only, must reach out to help, listen to and walk along side the poor or there will be much unrest ahead.

    I remember Robert Kaplan of the Atlantic Monthly predicting anarchy in West Africa back in 1994...see article http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...-anarchy/4670/ What we may be seeing is a second wave of the anarchy with the same, unsolved poverty issues driving it.
    Odd how the terrorists who plan and do the damage never seem to be poor.

    Poverty is of course a huge problem and a huge issue, but any proposed causative link between poverty and terrorism is strained at best. And while it's easy to point to poverty as a problem, it's a good deal harder to do anything about it. Development aid simply doesn't work. It doesn't win hearts and minds, it doesn't have much impact on poverty, and it certainly doesn't do anything about terrorism. It allows donors to feel good about themselves and say nice things about themselves, and it keeps the aid industry afloat, so you can say it's doing what it's intended to do... but let's not pretend that it's doing anything abut poverty.

    There is certainly a good deal of unrest ahead, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. For poverty to be effectively addressed parasitic governments have to be displaced, and that requires unrest: the parasites aren't just going to walk away.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Most terrorists that I have read about were middle or upper middle class and had a college degree. I don't know why this poverty causes terrorism myth refuses to die despite the facts.

    I'm all for development and helping the poor, that isn't my point, but rather that we're going to waste a lot of money looking for terrorists in the wrong places. Want to pre-empt the next terrorist, visit a university.

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    Poverty is of course a huge problem and a huge issue, but any proposed causative link between poverty and terrorism is strained at best. And while it's easy to point to poverty as a problem, it's a good deal harder to do anything about it. Development aid simply doesn't work. It doesn't win hearts and minds, it doesn't have much impact on poverty, and it certainly doesn't do anything about terrorism. It allows donors to feel good about themselves and say nice things about themselves, and it keeps the aid industry afloat, so you can say it's doing what it's intended to do... but let's not pretend that it's doing anything abut poverty.
    You are wrong. Most terrorists are poor.

    To access the Western World you must be both financially stable and educated. So the terrorists that attack the West tend to be middle class. On the other hand, most terrorist activity in the developing World (where the majority of terrorist activity occurs anyway) is carried out by poor people. Nigeria's first suicide bomber was a roadside mechanic and suicide bombers in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan tend to be poor.

    Finally, Osama bin Laden's flavour of Islam is not the traditional Islam of the merchant class, it is the Islam of desperate young men from slums. That it was co-opted by the middle class does not change its primary audience.

    It all boils down to poverty.

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