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Thread: Today's Wild Geese: Foreign Fighters in the GWOT

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    Bill, this sounds really interesting and like a great thread. What are we referencing?
    http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag/2008...fghanistan.php

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    The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 24 Sep 08:

    Jihadis Publish Online Recruitment Manual
    To become a full fledged jihadi, volunteers must go through gradual ideological reform and build a sense of security and vigilance needed for clandestine activities. To further their preparation, one al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadi internet forum uploaded a new manual entitled The Art of Recruitment, offering tutorials in techniques for approaching and recruiting suitable people to join the global Salafi-Jihadi movement.

    A jihadi forum participant using the nickname Abu Amr al-Qaedi uploaded the 51-page recruitment manual. The work contains a logical means of recruiting candidates for jihad, using three phases of “solitary preaching” and cultivation. The recruiters are instructed to cover every phase before moving to the next step. The successful completion of all three phases should lead to the formation of an active jihadi cell. In preparing the manual, al-Qaedi says he took into consideration the differences between people living in Muslim countries not occupied by crusaders, such as Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Algeria and others. "The purpose of the booklet is to transform the candidate into a devout and distinguished jihadi who understands the fundamentals of jihad, consequently becoming one of the ‘victorious cult.’” Al-Qaedi defines “solitary preaching” as a personal, direct contact between the candidate and the recruiter. Direct contact presents a good opportunity to comprehensively mold the candidate into a pious member of the Salafi-Jihadi movement and closely observe the recruitment progress. The recruiter can easily clarify any frustrations the candidate might have about joining jihad, refute discrepancies and, above all, preserve the confidentiality of the operation from the notice of security forces.....

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    Default Academic Conference on Foreign Fighters

    An interesting note from Fed Biz Ops this morning regarding an academic conference on foreign fighters.

    The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) intends to negotiate and award a sole source contract with Foreign Policy Research Institute Inc., 1528 Walnut St Ste 610, Philadelphia, PA, for access to plan, coordinate, and execute an open academic conference on the Foreign Fighters. This conference is geared toward assisting USSOCOM in better understanding the foreign fighter problem on a global scale...The conference is scheduled from 14 July to 15 July 2009, the period of performance will complete on 25 July or after all conference materials are delivered to USSOCOM.
    More here
    Drew Conway
    Ph.D. Student
    Department of Politics, New York University
    agc282@nyu.edu
    http://www.drewconway.com/zia

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Drew,

    Thanks for the note! I do wish that these conferences would get a little more advance notice, though .
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Drew Conway
    Ph.D. Student
    Department of Politics, New York University
    agc282@nyu.edu
    http://www.drewconway.com/zia

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Thanks, Drew. I'll probably go for the video-on-demand option .
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Default Foreign Fighters and Their Economic Impact: A Case Study of Syria and AQ in Iran

    Counter Terrorism Blog
    Matthew Levitt

    On July 14-15, the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) sponsored a conference in Washington DC at the National Press Club on "The Foreign Fighter Problem." I presented a paper for a panel on "Foreign Fighters and their Economic Impact," focused on the case study of Syria as a foreign fighter hub for AQI. The following is taking from the introduction to my paper:

    Running an insurgency is an expensive endeavor. Financing and resourcing insurgent activities, from procuring weapons and executing attacks to buying the support of local populations and bribing corrupt officials, requires extensive fundraising and facilitation networks that often involve group members, criminal syndicates, corrupt officials, and independent operators such as local smugglers.....
    The full paper is available online here.

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Dr. Levitt is a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near Policy and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His linked article draws on his testimony in the civil case Gates V Syria, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action No 06-1500 (RMC), September 2008, as well as on his interviews and research for a study co-authored with Michael Jacobson entitled “The Money Trail: Finding, Following and Freezing Terrorist Finances (Washington DC: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2008). It also draws on the Sinjar documents made public by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, where the author is an adjunct fellow.

    For a few years I was Assistant to the Executive Vice President for all bank Operations and Real Estate [he later was promoted to Vice Chairman of the Board] at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in NYC…then the fourth largest bank in the world. Today MHTCo. is by multiple mergers a part of JP Morgan Chase Bank.

    Subsequently I am retired from US Civil Service and from the Air Force Reserve (6 years active, 25 in the weekender Reserve at the JCS level with HQ USSOCOM for almost 10 years)

    My unique bank officer training and few years experience in both domestic and international bank operations, money wire transfer, Federal Reserve Bank operations, Broker Loan, Letters of Credit, Bills of Trade, off shore bank operations and accounts, etc. allow me, even in my old age, to know a fair amount about the mechanics of money laundering and movement of funds for wayward, as in terrorist, purposes.

    I advised the shadow #2 of what became the Homeland Security Department before it was “stood up” in the field of money gamesmanship, for free, my duty as a knowledgeable citizen, and was glad to have done so. Some little good perhaps came from my suggestions and shared knowledge to a then active duty Navy Rear Admiral whose career field was the military side of terrorism senior management.

    I have highlighted some statements by Dr. Levitt at the conclusion of his article…these are bits and pieces cut and pasted by me, to note that I may disagree with Dr. Levitt that insurgency is not primarily a military activity. Rather than be the village idiot know it all myself, perhaps others here on SWJ may want to comment on this focused topic…that insurgency is not primarily a military activity.

    I, for one, think we all agree that use of military force of any sort is traditionally a form of foreign policy, but since we are dealing with a stateless grouping of terrorists, the floor is open for some new definitions.

    Dr. Levitt’s complete article which is public domain information I think would be useful if reprinted in THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY JOURNAL whose current issue theme is to discuss and invites articles/contributions to help them better develop their strategy and tactis regarding insurrections, guerilla warfare, the sorts of things Dr. Levitt’s good article deals with in terms of the “show me the money” theme.

    Finally, insurgents traditionally seek to discredit the government they are fighting and breed dependency on the part of local populations through low intensity conflict warfare targeting local political and economic interests. Later, they may seek to control territory. Note, for example, that the Abu Ghadiyah network “planned to use rockets to attack multiple Coalition forces outposts and Iraqi police stations, in an attempt to facilitate an AQI takeover in Western Iraq,” according to information released by the Treasury Department. In both cases, insurgents have to assume a level of financial responsibility for the local economy while increasing the costs of the insurgency and also building grassroots support among local populations.

    It should be stated from the outset that, given the relatively strong return on minimal financial investment, Syrian support for insurgents and terrorists will remain an attractive option for the regime in Damascus so long as it continues to be a viable and productive means of furthering the regime’s domestic and foreign policy goals. And given the financial interests of local and national officials, cracking down on established smuggling networks (and thereby threatening the regular payments that supplement officials’ income) is no easy task. A multi-faceted approach to the foreign fighter facilitation network problem is therefore required, including:

    A plan to backfill the local economies with jobs and services to replace the losses sure to follow the shuttering of the smuggling economy;

    An anti-corruption and civil society campaign aimed at breaking the traditional and deeply ingrained culture of bribing people in positions of authority as the cost of doing business;

    Robust efforts to secure political stability in Iraq generally and specifically in areas controlled or largely influenced by insurgents;

    Diplomatic efforts to address the underlying policy concerns that have led Syria to support insurgents and terrorists as a means of furthering domestic and foreign policy;

    Finally, all efforts on the Syrian side of the border will have to be replicated by concurrent and parallel efforts on the Iraqi side of the border.

    At the end of the day, however, political and diplomatic efforts may fall short, in which case targeted financial sanctions – focused on illicit activity, authority figures engaged in criminal or other activity threatening regional security, and corruption – present an attractive second option.

    Combined with regional diplomacy employing a variety of countries’ efforts to cajole Damascus when possible and sanction the regime when necessary, sanctions can at least increase the costs to the regime of its continued belligerent behavior. Sanctions alone will never solve national security problems, but when used in tandem with other elements of national power in an integrated, strategic approach they can be very effective.

    Were the shadow economy of smuggling enterprises to contract, the most critical and time sensitive issue would be to successfully jumpstart legitimate economic growth in its place. In the words of General Sir Frank Kiston, “The first thing that must be apparent when contemplating the sort of action which a government facing insurgency should take, is that there can be no such thing as a purely military solution because insurgency is not primarily a military activity.”
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 07-25-2009 at 01:39 PM.

  9. #49
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I will read this article with some interest, as the whole nature of AQ and the phenomenon of "foreign fighters" one of the main areas that our policy and intel types don't get and mischaracterize.

    First: AQ is not an Insurgent organization. As a non-state entity AQ has no state and no populace. They are a new breed, a franchiser, a non-state acting like a state to conduct unconventional warfare to incite insurgency in many states, and to borrow members of said insurgencies to contribute to shared ends.

    Second as to Syria. This is the route, the pipeline these nationalist insurgents who share ends with AQ travel along and through. Is the pipe the problem or the ends of the pipe? Many branches feed into the main line going through Syria, and most of those branches originate in the lands of our allies. The largest branch begins in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have a long history of diffusing dissidence at home by encouraging the exportation of such dissidents to go to places like Afghanistan in the 80s, and more recently Iraq. We need to overcome our politically driven tendency to focus on largely irrelevant aspects like the pipeline through Syria; and focus on the real issue: The dissatisfied insurgent populaces of the states these men and the money that funds them come from.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Ok, I read Dr. Levitt's article. It adds nothing new, merely parroting the same old, flawed thinking. So I ask, does Dr. Levitt really just not get it? Or, in the alternative, does Dr. Levitt and the others who work so hard to shift the focus to state's like Syria have some alternative motivation, and what is it??

    AQ is in Iraq for one reason: Because America is there. Fight us where we are, follow us where we go. Remain focused on their primary goal of taking down the Saudi Government and to break the will of the US to prop up the many governments of the region that we have invested so heavily in over the duration of the Cold War and work to sustain in a favorable relation with us today long after that conflict is over.

    Foreign Fighters travel to Iraq for similar reasons to fight with AQ. They have poor governance at home that they want to change but believe that they cannot so long as that same governance is protected by the US; and they buy into the AQ mantra that step one is to break the support of the US to the region.


    So, like flood waters flowing down hill to the sea; will blocking the path of least resistance stop the flood? No.. it merely changes the route.


    This is not unlike a similar situation in US history. My family were Quakers back in the 17 and 1800s; and by the 1830s had migrated to southern Ohio and Michigan. There many of them became heavily involved in the very illegal business of smuggling escaped slaves out of the South up into the North and to Canada.

    The governments and populaces of those states largely turned a blind eye to this illegal activity because they in some measure supported the moral cause for the action. Would strong sanctions against these states or populaces worked to shut down the pipeline? Perhaps, but at what consequence? Would targeting the otherwise solid citizens engaged in actually running the pipeline out of their strong religious and moral convictions shut down the pipeline? Doubtful, and again at what consequence?

    After all the real problem was not the pipeline, but the governmentally supported institution of slavery; and the destination of Canada and the promise of freedom as powerful of a draw to enslaved people as the Ocean and gravity are to water.

    We lacked the moral courage to make the hard decision to do the right thing then, and chose instead the harder path to the eventual unavoidable resolution of the problem.

    We face a similar choice in the Middle East today. We can make the hard moral choice now; or ignore it and face the much harder inevitable resolution. I for one, vote for the former.

    Men like Dr. Levitt are dangerous. Challenge them and their thinking. Challenge me and my thinking, but above all, think, and draw your own conclusions. The rhetoric is loud, but really does not stand up to close inspection.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Or, in the alternative, does Dr. Levitt and the others who work so hard to shift the focus to state's like Syria have some alternative motivation, and what is it??
    Dr. Levitt is a senior fellow The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which was founded by AIPAC. While WINEP avoids AIPAC’s partisan image and was established to present a balanced view of the Middle East, its critics contend it a research arm of the pro-Israel lobby.

    If one were looking for such an alternative motivation I would start there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    Dr. Levitt is a senior fellow The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which was founded by AIPAC. While WINEP avoids AIPAC’s partisan image and was established to present a balanced view of the Middle East, its critics contend it a research arm of the pro-Israel lobby.

    If one were looking for such an alternative motivation I would start there.
    yep

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    Default Disrupting the Foreign Fighter Flow

    On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, US soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have confronted third-party national combatants. Widely known as 'foreign fighters,' these individuals have gained deadly skills, combat experience and global connections that can be exported and exploited to devastating effect, Michael P Noonan writes for FPRI.
    Appeared Oct '09 and missed by me.

    Link:http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200910.no...ghterflow.html

    The issues around foreign fighters has appeared on SWC before, within existing threads; notably when concerning Iraq and the article is a good read.

    The foreign fighter pipeline has three phases: (1) source country/flashpoint, (2) safe havens and the transit network, and (3) target locations. Others suggest that a fourth phase, outflow destinations, is important as well.

    (Concludes)..while foreign fighters are by no means chiefly responsible for all of the problems in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan, working against them successfully will help to reduce violence in the war zones. Combined with effective actions on the ground, an indirect strategy that husbands and appropriately distributes resources across borders to limit recruitment, transit, and logistics for these international killers is essential to success.
    davidbfpo

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    A wave of Germans traveling to training camps for militant jihadists has alarmed security officials back in Europe. The recruits are quickly becoming radicalized and, in some cases, entire families are departing to hotbeds for terrorism. It is even believed that colonies catering to German Islamists have taken shape in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...687306,00.html
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-06-2010 at 06:50 PM. Reason: Insert quote marks
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Some are mercs, most are simply the "road team" for the hometown insurgency of their homeland.

    AQ's message is clear and effective, essentially: "you can't win at home until you break the support of the US to the region and to your government." So they go to where the west is most vulnerable and attempt to hurt them there.

    To me the only logical point to target is the perception within each of these states these men travel from that the U.S. stands between them and achieving better governance at home. Simply killing them when they arrive only motivates more to come; the routes they travel will flow to the paths of least resistance; and to target them in their homelands is to only validate AQ's propaganda as we step in to help some fairly unsavory state leaders to suppress the insurgent segments of their societies in the name of "counterterrorism."

    My $.02
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Default Germany to South Waziristan

    The German journalist Yassin Musharbash has written before extensively on this "tourism" to the FATA; the 'German colony' had not been detected until the Sauerland (or Saarland) plotters were arrested and made admissions when in custody. Note the 'colony' in South Waziristan is linked to a rather low profile AQ-leaning group the Islamic Jihad Union, for a fuller details (albeit from 2008):http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscel...faijuoct08.pdf

    The IJU attracted the Sauerland plotters to a "holiday camp", where it was "fun" and to their surprise asked them to return home, to await the call, not fight in the FATA etc.

    In response to Bob's World and I
    To me the only logical point to target is the perception within each of these states these men travel from that the U.S. stands between them and achieving better governance at home.
    I agree we do need to find messages that undermine the AQ / IJU "offer" at home, that mixture has yet to emerge IMHO. These messages cannot be solely be state responses. That AQ has killed more Muslims than non-Muslims is not said enough. A difficult thing messages.

    See this CTC article for analysis on Muslims -v- non-Muslim deaths:http://www.ctc.usma.edu/Deadly%20Van...Complete_L.pdf
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-06-2010 at 09:02 PM. Reason: Last link added
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    David,

    When I say target perceptions, I do not mean messaging. No mere words mean much, when our actions speak volumes.

    What I mean is a holistic top-down assessment of the nature of our entire foreign policy, with a focus on these nations where the populaces seem most inclined to join the foreign fighter band wagon; and then looking past they hyperbole of "Islamism" and "Caliphates" and "terrorism" and looking at things more fundamental such as how the West is perceived in that populace and what goes to shape that perception, and how we can modify our behavior and words to create better perceptions without also compromising critical national interests. Asking ourselves if we are supporting a populace or a government or worst yet, just a particular leader? Have we fallen into a relationship where we can be reasonably perceived by that populace as injecting our will over that of the populace and de-legitimizing their leadership in their eyes?

    I hate victim mentality. You see it in individuals, and in groups of individuals. You often see it in governments faced with insurgency. You see it in the West's approach to the terrorist attacks of the past decade. "Oh woe is us, we are innocent and being attack for no reason by evil people." While nothing justifies acts of terrorism, nor absolves those who practice it, it is not healthy to simply think that you are a victim and that everyone else is wrong and must make all of the adjustments so that you can continue with your own destructive behavior. It is a syndrome common to addicts.

    The West needs to take a 12-step program. "Hello, I am the West, and I have a problem..." Once we get as serious about our own behavior as we have been about modifying the behavior of others, we can begin to get in front of this.

    So yes, we must manage perceptions in these populaces that feel inclined to attack us. But no, that does not mean seeing it as their entire fault and sending them a nice note to please stop.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    USIP, 4 May 10: Why Youth Join al-Qaeda
    Summary
    • Interviews and personal histories of 2,032 “foreign fighters” show that rather than be recruited, young men actively seek out al-Qaeda and its associated movements.
    • Al-Qaeda is more than just an organization; it is an ideology and a popular global brand that spins a heroic narrative with an idealized version of Islamic jihad.
    • Al-Qaeda’s ubiquitous message of anti-Muslim oppression and global jihad appeals to the developmental needs of adolescents.
    • To defeat al-Qaeda, it is crucial to understand who seeks to join and why.
    • Common myths and misconceptions about why young men join extremist movements ignore the proximate causes.
    • Potential recruits have an unfulfilled need to define themselves. Al-Qaeda’s ability to turn them to violence is rooted in what each seeks: Revenge seekers need an outlet for their frustration, status seekers need recognition, identity seekers need a group to join, and thrill seekers need adventure.
    • To prevent radicalization, calm the revenge seeker with programs to vent his frustration (e.g., sports, creative arts, political discussion outlets, young adult mentors); promote the status seeker with opportunities to show off his self-perceived talents (e.g., local political participation, international exchange programs, positive public media depictions of young Muslims); give the identity seeker groups to join (sports leagues, model governments, student societies, community service programs, adventure groups); and turn off the thrill seeker by tarnishing al-Qaeda’s image.
    • Fragmented efforts of public diplomacy, strategic communications, and information operations are underresourced, poorly coordinated, and understaffed given the strength and pervasiveness of al-Qaeda’s message.
    • A U.S. Strategic Communications Agency should be established to consolidate efforts under a cabinet-level secretary of strategic communications; execute a presidentially approved national communications strategy; manage funding of all U.S. communications programs; enable, empower, support, and reinforce credible existing voices in the Muslim world; build U.S. message credibility with honest, transparent dialogue that closes the “say-do” gap in recent foreign policy; and collect, synthesize, and analyze public opinion research.

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    To defeat al-Qaeda, it is crucial to understand who seeks to join and why.
    Curious. How much of the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS recruitment of 14-30 year olds did we have to understand to beat them?
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

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    An eight minute TED talk on how the Taliban recruit/brainwash children.
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

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