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Thread: Al Qaeda Strikes Back

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Al Qaeda Strikes Back

    26 April Real Clear Politics / Foreign Affairs - Al Qaeda Strikes Back by Bruce Riedel.

    Al Qaeda is a more dangerous enemy today than it has ever been before. It has suffered some setbacks since September 11, 2001: losing its state within a state in Afghanistan, having several of its top operatives killed, failing in its attempts to overthrow the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. But thanks largely to Washington's eagerness to go into Iraq rather than concentrate on hunting down al Qaeda's leaders, the organization now has a solid base of operations in the badlands of Pakistan and an effective franchise in western Iraq. Its reach has spread throughout the Muslim world, where it has developed a large cadre of operatives, and in Europe, where it can claim the support of some disenfranchised Muslim locals and members of the Arab and Asian diasporas. Osama bin Laden has mounted a successful propaganda campaign to make himself and his movement the primary symbols of Islamic resistance worldwide. His ideas now attract more followers than ever.

    Bin Laden's goals remain the same, as does his basic strategy. He seeks to, as he puts it, "provoke and bait" the United States into "bleeding wars" throughout the Islamic world; he wants to bankrupt the country much as he helped bankrupt, he claims, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The demoralized "far enemy" would then go home, allowing al Qaeda to focus on destroying its "near enemies," Israel and the "corrupt" regimes of Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. occupation of Iraq helped move his plan along, and bin Laden has worked hard to turn it into a trap for Washington. Now he may be scheming to extend his strategy by exploiting or even triggering a war between the United States and Iran...

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    Default Is the War on Terror Over?

    26 April Real Clear Politics - Is the War on Terror Over? By Victor Davis Hanson.

    Do we still need to fight a war on terror?

    The answer seems to be no for an increasing number in the West who are weary over Afghanistan and Iraq or complacent from the absence of a major attack on the scale of 9/11.

    The British Foreign Office has scrapped the phrase "war on terror" as inexact, inflammatory and counterproductive. U.S. Central Command has just dropped the term "long war" to describe the fight against radical Islam.

    An influential book making the rounds - "Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them" - argues that the threat from al-Qaida is vastly exaggerated...

    This thinking may seem understandable given the ineffectiveness of al-Qaida to kill many Americans after 9/11. Or it may also reflect hopes that if we only leave Iraq, radical Islam will wither away. But it is dead wrong for a number of reasons...

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Question I Wouldn't Recommend Riedel for Motivational Speeches

    Bruce Riedel is a Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He retired last year after 29 years with the Central Intelligence Agency. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East Affairs on the National Security Council (1997-2002), Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Near East and South Asian Affairs (1995-97), and National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Intelligence Council (1993-95).
    It appears Riedel was also involved with our security and safety while Al Queda was successfully attacking Americans during the years leading up to and including September 11th, 2001. I respect his knowledge and positions he held but are his opinions sort of the pot calling the kettle black? Or is it just me?

    Nevertheless, his mantra seems to be the prevailing wind these days amongst those that were involved with watching terrorists during the 1990s. I went to a charity dinner the other night. The speaker was Stephen Howard who survived a 1995 Al Queda attack on the Saudi National Guard offices in Riyadh. I got the impression that he would be in the same camp as Riedel.

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    Default Tracking the Threat

    Interesting website; its not only an archive of Al-Qa'ida info, but its an attempt at setting up a system to provide analysis of complex entity and relationship data:

    TrackingTheThreat.com is database of open-source information about the Al Qaeda terrorist network. It contains data in the form of:

    Entities: Discrete data elements that comprise people, places, organizations, events, etc.

    Relationships: Information about the personal, organizational, transactional, and historical connections between entities.

    Metadata: Additional information about entities and relationships that help form a more complete picture.

    Notes and Documents: Unstructured text that provides background information on entities, relationships, and metadata.
    Their Name Analysis Tool is also pretty cool - especially when you consider how many ways we've seen of spelling a name in latin characters when it originates from a language with a different alphabet (i.e. Arabic, Korean, Russian).

    The whole thing is rough and still needs work - but it ain't bad for open 'net.

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