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Thread: Assessing Al-Qaeda (merged thread)

  1. #161
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Future of AQ: Foresight Project (CSIS)

    Hat tip to a "lurker":
    CSIS (the Canadian one) has done a really rather good foresight paper about the future of AQ
    Link:.https://www.csis.gc.ca/pblctns/cdmct...130501_eng.pdf

    Just over eighty pages looking forward to 2018, with sections on: AQ core & AQ in Iraq, AQIM, AQ in East Africa and AQAP.

    This thread fits in with other strategic threads in this section.
    davidbfpo

  2. #162
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Al Qaeda today may be weakened, but its wounds are far from fatal

    A CNN commentary 'Terrorism at a moment of transition' by an ex-CIA officer, John McLaughlin, for an Aspen event:http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2013/0...of-transition/

    Remarkably the only focus is on an evolving AQ, as if it was the only terrorist group. It does have some succinct passages, like:
    So this is a highly fluid moment of transition for international terrorism – when we can confidently discern trends but cannot predict end states with any assurance.
    This one struck me as odd, read first:
    It is no accident that the two most significant terrorist attacks in the last six months occurred here: the assault on the U.S. base in Benghazi, Libya, and the attack on the In Amenas natural gas plant in Algeria.

    Emblematic of the freedom that terrorists have here, the leader of the latter attack was able to use networks across the region to gather weapons and recruit fighters from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, and Mauritania.
    I think it is significant that the In Amenas attack needed such a range of fanatics; we invariably miss that so few Muslims are attracted to the violent Jihad. It is a sign of weakness IMHO.

    Maybe a minor point, but why use 'the U.S. base in Benghazi', my emphasis. It was a diplomatic building, although we now know some murky activity was under-way elsewhere.
    davidbfpo

  3. #163
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    Default Agency Vernacular

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Maybe a minor point, but why use 'the U.S. base in Benghazi', my emphasis. It was a diplomatic building, although we now know some murky activity was under-way elsewhere.
    Just as the State Department has an embassy in a capital city and consulates in other cities - CIA has a 'station' in the embassy and 'bases' in other cities.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  4. #164
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Bombers trained in Brooklyn?

    Transnational networks are indeed a function of modern Islamist terrorism, as they are of almost every other aspect of modern life. Just as with cross-border fraud or organised crime, they require an enhanced international response. But they have not been unknown in the past. The Fenian bombing campaign in London of the 1880s depended upon its foreign training camp – the Brooklyn Dynamite School – and the propaganda produced under First Amendment freedoms including that notable New York periodical, “Ireland’s Liberator and Dynamite Monthly”. The identification of religiously-inspired plotters with foreign powers and foreign training goes further back than that: several of the Gunpowder plotters of 1605 were educated by foreign Jesuits; while their explosives expert Guy Fawkes was recruited for the task in Flanders, where he had learned his skills as a mercenary, originally for the same King of Spain – Philip II – who had recently launched the Spanish Armada.
    From an article 'Shielding the Compass: How to Fight Terrorism Without Defeating the Law' by David Anderson, a UK lawyer and now the Independent Reviewer of Terrorist Legislation - which I am currently reading:http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c...act_id=2292950

    The passage cited illustrates that so much of contemporary terrorism is not new and has some odd historical episodes.
    davidbfpo

  5. #165
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Managing diehard extremists who are imbeciles or traitors

    Somewhere there is a thread on the management style of AQ, but on a quick search it has eluded me.

    Returning to this issue, assessing AQ's future, was prompted by a short article in Foreign Affairs 'The Business Habits of Highly Effective Terrorists Why Terror Masterminds Rely on Micro-Management' by Jacob Shapiro, which has some illuminating insights:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articl...ists?page=show
    davidbfpo

  6. #166
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Jacob Shapiro's book reviewed

    I missed in the last post jacob Shapiro had written a book 'The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations' and Clints Watts has done a short review, with my emphasis:
    I’m only about 50-60 pages in and it is fantastic....is a must read for those trying to understand how terrorist group’s make decisions and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it. It’s well written and uses a fantastic array of case studies from throughout history and around the globe. And with that, I’m off to read some more.
    Link to review:http://selectedwisdom.com/?p=1121

    Link to book, with no reviews:http://www.amazon.com/The-Terrorists.../dp/0691157219
    davidbfpo

  7. #167
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Craving attention and blood

    Steve Metz (SWC Member) has a short article on WPR, 'Strategic Horizons: Al-Qaida’s Resurgence, Like Its Demise, Is Greatly Exaggerated'
    '
    I liked this passage:
    The threat today comes less from al-Qaida as an organization than from the ideas it popularized by disguising sociopathic violence with a religious veneer to appeal to the world's extensive supply of lost, disillusioned and angry young men. It is extraordinarily difficult to kill ideas. But Americans and the citizens of other nations victimized by terrorism must understand that an occasional attack, however tragic, does not demonstrate that the extremists are undergoing a revival. Violent Islamic extremism, like other forms of barbarism, will eventually fade, but it will continue to kill both Muslims and non-Muslims as it does so. Al-Qaida and its allies can murder, but they cannot manage, produce or govern. And those latter qualities are the benchmarks of a truly dangerous enemy—one that begins small and fractured and, over time, grows more organized and better able to administer and undertake centrally controlled, coordinated political and military efforts.

    Al-Qaida and its affiliates are moving in the opposite direction, becoming less organized, more fractured and less able to exercise political power. Thus they are more reliant on terrorism, particularly terrorism in highly populated areas, which is more likely to get the attention the extremists so crave.
    Link:http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/a...ly-exaggerated

    In the very long term, yet to be seen Steve is right to say:
    Violent Islamic extremism, like other forms of barbarism, will eventually fade.
    Historians, one whose name escapes me, trace such violence back to at least the Indian Mutiny. Or does such violence just become part of the landscape, that we fail to notice? Before 9/11 very few of the public in the USA noted this extremism, many others countries, including some in the UK remarked "Ah, now you see what we've fought for years".

    There is another article on this theme, but till tomorrow.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-03-2013 at 10:23 PM. Reason: Fix link
    davidbfpo

  8. #168
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Jihadi-Salafism’s Next Generation

    A short CSIS paper, with some pithy comments, for example:
    the new jihadi-salafists are undertaking a more strategic, grassroots effort to Islamize society while occasionally using targeted direct action, including violence, to advance their goals.
    Link:http://csis.org/files/publication/13...lafism_Web.pdf
    davidbfpo

  9. #169
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default AQ is a changing

    Stephen Tankel on War on The Rocks on the apparent decline of AQ Central, with the removal of Arab leaders becoming more like AQ Pakistan. He concludes:
    We should not expect al-Qaeda in Pakistan to give up entirely on transnational attack planning. But given its addition of Pakistanis at senior leader levels and its increasingly limited capabilities, we should expect a continued growing focus on the insurgency in Pakistan and possibly on striking foreign targets in India. Regionally, that has important implications for U.S. counterterrorism practices in South Asia. Globally, it means that AQAP is not simply the most lethal arm of al-Qaeda, but also increasingly its center of gravity in terms of leadership and coordination.
    Link:http://warontherocks.com/2013/10/goi...n-of-al-qaeda/
    davidbfpo

  10. #170
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default “AQ Core” is no more: the changing shape of Al Qaida

    A short, simple explanation by the British FCO. Fascinating assessment and a public document too; the weblink IMHO suggests a regular publication, although first time I've seen this:https://www.gov.uk/government/upload...newsletter.pdf

    The summary:
    For the first time, AQ’s top leader has appointed a deputy from beyond the Afghanistan/Pakistan based “AQ Core”, from Yemen based AQ in the Arabian Peninsula (AQ-AP). This geographical spread at the top mirrors the spreading threat posed by the wider AQ Movement which has already been underway for four years. It means that we should stop calling Af/Pak based AQ figures “AQ Core” since they do not necessarily have a higher standing than any of the other AQ groups - the top leadership is multi-national and in that sense “AQ Core” is no more.
    davidbfpo

  11. #171
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    Default Yemen bomb-makers 'working on new devices'

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25206462#!

    "They are technically adept, they move very fast, they have a core of experienced people, they operate in a country with fragile areas and elude the Yemeni authorities. Plus they have the ability to inspire people to lone acts of terror."

    What makes AQAP so dangerous is its Saudi master bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, one of the CIA's most wanted targets. He is thought to be the brains behind all three non-metallic devices that got past airport security.
    Last year, just weeks before the London Olympics, they handed a new, upgraded device to one of their number who volunteered to be a suicide bomber. But he turned out to be an informant who fled to Saudi Arabia, taking the device with him, which was then passed by the Saudis to the FBI for analysis.
    All the more reason we should continue drone strikes. These individuals are striving to kill hundreds of innocent civilians by destroying commercial aircraft and we're worried about the potential blowback from drone strikes? Does anybody really think if we stop they'll stop?

  12. #172
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    Default The Three Versions Of Al Qaeda

    http://www.eurasiareview.com/2612201...-qaeda-primer/

    The Three Versions Of Al Qaeda: A Primer

    Al Qaeda today only slightly resembles the al Qaeda of yesteryear. Al Qaeda operatives or “al Qaeda-like” organizations stretch throughout North Africa, across the Middle East and into South Asia. This disparate string of organizations hosts a handful of al Qaeda’s original Afghanistan and Pakistan veterans but mostly consist of newcomers inspired by al Qaeda’s message — disenfranchised young men seeking an adventurous fight in the wake of a tumultuous Arab Spring. Al Qaeda, or more appropriately jihadism pursued under al Qaeda’s banner, has morphed in several waves over the course of more than two decades.
    Evaluating al Qaeda through three incarnations may help us fully understand the group’s evolution into the present day and what it may become in the future. Al Qaeda may be examined in three periods: al Qaeda 1.0 (1988 – 2001), al Qaeda 2.0 (2002 – 2011) and al Qaeda 3.0 (2011 – present). Note, these periods are not distinct entities. Al Qaeda has transformed slowly through each phase. Some affiliates carrying al Qaeda’s name have rapidly morphed based on changing local conditions while others have adjusted more pragmatically. However, two significant events, the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011 provide natural turning points for tracing al Qaeda’s evolution.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-29-2017 at 08:53 PM. Reason: 23.6k views until merged

  13. #173
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    Default Preventing AQ expansion: a strategy needed?

    Moderator adds: Post 2 asks for this thread and Post 9 created this thread (ends).

    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    'Encouraging' somebody is not making him/her anybody's proxy. Only direct support does.
    It is how it is done.

    Too many examples (in the past) of lone or small teams of CIA operatives attempting to direct the opposition forces in exchange for weapons and other support where these CIA individuals are woefully unqualified militarily together with this a near total lack of knowledge of the complexities of the situation on the ground. Sadly pathetic.

    The one consistent aim of the US since 9/11 has been to go after Al Qaeda and prevent their expansion. In terms of Syria this has been a spectacular failure.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-24-2014 at 05:47 PM.

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    Default Mark:

    The one consistent aim of the US since 9/11 has been [1] to go after Al Qaeda and [2] prevent their expansion. In terms of Syria this has been a spectacular failure.
    The US has been consistent in going after AQ Base - we have killed a lot of them via direct actions and drones.

    We should have a discussion somewhere other than in this thread - a SWC thread may already exist - on "preventing AQ expansion". An ounce of prevention now may free a pound of care later.

    Moderator adds: a new thread was started 24th January 2014 at:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=19947

    But, having said that, US "prevention" efforts generally have been less than "shock and awe"-inspiring. Our "state building" operations in Iraq and Astan were certainly intended to prevent AQ expansion. Now, thousands of lives and just south of $ 2 trillion later, we have basically nada - those two "state building" efforts have been the "spectacular failures".

    A subsidiary issue for that separate discussion is how far afield does the US go in preventing the expansion of AQ "franchises" (as opposed to hitting AQ Base). In short, the feasibility and the costs of mounting those operations (whatever they might be) may well be prohibitive with respect to local "AQ" groups.

    In retrospect from 9/11, the US has been successful in small direct actions and drone strikes against AQ Base and the leadership of closely-tied franchises on an international scale. The US has also been successful within CONUS in prosecuting hundreds of AQ inspired local terrs - with only one shootout (Detroit MI) that I know of.

    Finally, this past situation should not exist today:

    Too many examples (in the past) of lone or small teams of CIA operatives attempting to direct the opposition forces in exchange for weapons and other support where these CIA individuals are woefully unqualified militarily together with this a near total lack of knowledge of the complexities of the situation on the ground. Sadly pathetic.
    We have the green light for joint Title 50 (CIA and other intel agencies) - Title 10 (DoD) operations. The questions go to the wisdom of when and where to use them - and how much.

    Regards

    Mike

  15. #175
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default More police, less soldiers

    Within an article on scaling down the military presence in Kashmir and placing the emphasis on the police are several facts, here are some:
    The principal reason to consider scaling back the Army’s counter-insurgency presence in Kashmir is simple: there isn’t an insurgency to be fought. Ever since the 2001-2002 near-war between India and Pakistan, levels of violence in the State have fallen steadily. In 2001, as many as 1,067 civilians, 590 security forces personnel, and 2,850 terrorists were killed in fighting. The numbers fell in 2003 to 658 civilians, 338 security forces and 1,546 terrorists. Last year’s numbers, the authoritative South Asia Terrorism Portal records, were 20 civilians, 61 security forces and 100 terrorists.

    In population-adjusted terms, the insurgency in J&K cost 1.51 lives per 100,000 persons of its population, lower than the homicide rate in Delhi or Haryana. The State’s total firearms fatalities were well below those in Uttar Pradesh (1,575 in 2012) or Bihar (681) or even West Bengal (269).
    Link:http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead...le5597916.ece?
    davidbfpo

  16. #176
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    We have the green light for joint Title 50 (CIA and other intel agencies) - Title 10 (DoD) operations. The questions go to the wisdom of when and where to use them - and how much.
    Exactly!

    When, where, HOW and on what scale.

    The how requires more than a little bit of 'skill and cunning'

  17. #177
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    Default Calm Before Storm?

    The author of this article, Praveen Swami, has overlooked the strategic aims of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia backed Islamists in South Asia.

    These Islamists, such as Pakistani intelligence backed Lashkar-e-Taiba want to “recapture” India for Islam. Under this vision, a radicalized Kashmir is to be used as a base for escalating radicalization of India’s Muslim minorities and formation of jihadist groups in the Indian heartland. The Islamists have made great strides in this direction. It has just been noted that a group modeled after (Pakistan-based) Tahreek-e-Taliban has now taken root in the central Indian city of Aurangabad.

    Strategically, from an Islamist view, there is little to be gained by intensifying jihad in Kashmir at this time as it would invite retaliation by the Indian army, bring hardships to the local (Muslim) population, and make them reluctant to help the Islamist cause. Fundamentally, India (like every other nation) has failed to understand why the locals have been drawn to radical ideologies and how to extricate them. That’s the bottom line.

    In my 2009 book, Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War, an entire section titled, “Siege of India (pp: 81-133)” is devoted to a discussion of the ongoing multi-front jihadist assault on India.

    This may be one of those situations where a storm is waiting in the wings of the calm.

  18. #178
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    Default Moorthy: Welcome

    There are a number of threads here at SWC to which you could contribute.

    For the benefit of other members/viewers, I don't know Moorthy (his first name, BTW); but I've just looked up his book, Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War (2009). Here's the Amazon pitch:

    Al Qaeda and its sympathizers are often viewed as isolated fanatics outside of the mainstream Muslim population—outlaws not only in the West but also in respectable Muslim nations. This book argues just the opposite: that in fact terrorism is the logical outgrowth of an international Islamic political agenda that is endorsed and funded by Islam’s major players—Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan. Author Moorthy S. Muthuswamy labels these nations the "Axis of Jihad". For decades, he says, they have been devoted to extending their spheres of influence in the name of religion.

    Utilizing a recent groundbreaking statistical analysis of Islamic doctrines and an analysis based upon the outlook of Muslims, he discusses the possibility that Islam is less a religion and more an ideology of conquest.

    Muthuswamy urges US policymakers to rethink the War on Terror along the lines of the successfully waged Cold War against communism. The nuclear physicist-author makes the following main point:

    Like the Cold War, this war is more a contest of ideas than armed conflict. Rather than placing the emphasis on military might and costly wars abroad, the West should invest the bulk of its effort in a science-based ideological war, one that is directed at discrediting the simplistic, conquest-oriented theological roots of Islamist indoctrination and jihadist politics.

    Muthuswamy also emphasizes the importance of a largely non-Muslim India in the War on Terror, in view of its location and size. The India-born author gives a fascinating description of modern Islamic conquest in South Asia. His insights into the Islamist siege and subversion of Indian democracy should be revealing for the citizens of western democracies.

    The author asserts that the West needs India in dealing with the conundrum that is Pakistan, as they both share language, culture, and more with each other.

    This fresh perspective on the ongoing threat from Islamist terrorism offers much to ponder about the future course of US foreign policy initiatives.
    I also found two reviews. One (by Diana West in the WT), BOOK REVIEW: Reversing U.S. policy in AfPak, is favorable. The other (by GB Singh in NER), Dangerous Policy, is unfavorable. The latter attacks Moorthy's message, but also attacks the messenger (IMO). I did take Mr Singh's advice on one point: I will read the book !

    Moorthy, the concept here at SWC is to attack the message (ruthlessly), but not to attack the messenger. In short, an officer and a gentlemen standard works best in preventing flaming and in keeping learnable conversations going. In that context and in my opinion, Mr Singh should have left out the last half of his last paragraph.

    I encourage you to post here, not only in this thread but elsewhere.

    Regards

    Mike

  19. #179
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default

    MoorthyM:

    If the 'Preventing AQ expansion' thread gets going you gotta get into the discussion. The US needs some ideas beyond Preds shooting Hellfires.

    Moderator adds: new thread created, so please post there and so next two posts have been moved (ends)
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default Preventing AQ expansion: a strategy needed?

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    MoorthyM:

    If the 'Preventing AQ expansion' thread gets going you gotta get into the discussion. The US needs some ideas beyond Preds shooting Hellfires.
    Jmm99 & Carl

    Thank you for the kind comments.

    I want to posit a new paradigm that I believe will help us safely navigate the threat of radical Islam (and beyond): If a social phenomenon has a wide following (such as the Al Qaeda variety) it has to have a simple and well-known construct.

    Indeed, I am confident that we know now how radical Islam functions, and consequently, how to neutralize it. In other words, a “Grand Strategy” policy formulation of addressing the engulfing worldwide threat of radical Islam and the associated Muslim socioeconomic stagnation may be feasible. A research article of mine (about 11,000 words long) that identifies the radical Islamic construct is scheduled to be published in a few months.

    I don’t see why it would take more than a few years to break the back of the ideological basis and power centers of radical Islam. We should be able to do that without attacking the religion or antagonize the religious majority. In fact, we can get the religious majority to our side, as they are victimized by Islamists as much as anyone else.

    Even then, I do admit that we would still need a few Hellfire missiles, not so much as part of any reactive response, but as part of a strategic one.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-24-2014 at 05:47 PM.

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