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Thread: Assessing Al-Qaeda (merged thread)

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    Default Assessing Al-Qaeda (merged thread)

    12 Dec. issue of Newsweek - Women of Al Qaeda.

    Very little is known about the first woman to become a suicide bomber for Al Qaeda in Iraq, except that she dressed as a man. Two weeks after a U.S.-backed operation to clean out the town of Tall Afar near the Syrian border in September, she put on the long white robe and checkered scarf that Arab men commonly wear in Iraqi desert towns. The clothes disguised her gender long enough for her to walk into a gathering of military recruits with no one taking much notice. The clothes also concealed the explosives strapped around her womb...

    Never before had any branch of Al Qaeda sent a woman on a suicide mission. Since female bombers first appeared in Lebanon two decades ago, their ranks have come mainly from secular Arab nationalist groups, from Kurdish rebels in Turkey and the non-Muslim Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fighting the government of Sri Lanka. Only in the past few years did the Palestinian "army of roses" carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis, and the "black widows" strike at the enemies of Chechnya's rebels. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Qaeda and its offshoots around the world held back. But as he has before, Zarqawi broke the taboos. His strategy is to create images of horror, "to look like he has more capability than he truly has," says Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the Coalition forces spokesman in Baghdad. Zarqawi recruits where he can, he exploits whom he can and he attacks the softest of targets to get the peculiar kind of publicity he craves. Women are his new weapon of choice...

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    Default Assessing AQ's future (merged thread)

    Moderator's Note

    Today after a review I have merged ten threads covering the future of AQ and changed the title to 'Assessing AQ's future' (merged thread). This was prompted by my new post (ends).


    A Hundred Osamas: Islamist Threats and the Future of Counterinsurgency
    If America’s pursuit of a Global War on Terror is strategically and politically well-grounded, then why are Islamist insurgencies and extremist movements continuing to operate, generating parallel cells that terrify the world with violent attacks from Iraq to London?

    While analysts debate the intensity and longevity of the latest round of terrorist attacks, we would do well to consider whether U.S. long-term goals in the war on terror—namely diminishing their presence and denying terrorists the ability to operate, while also altering conditions that terrorists exploit—are being met. If we are not pursuing the proper strategy or its implementation is not decreasing support for terrorists, then we should adapt accordingly.

    This monograph addresses these questions and examines the efficacy of proposed or operative strategies in light of the evolution of Islamist jihadist leaders, ideas, and foot-soldiers. Jihadist strategy has emerged in a polymorphous pattern over the last 30 years, but many Americans only became aware of the intensity of this problem post-September 11, 2001 (9/11), and through observation of the 2003-insurgency in Iraq.

    The author proposes that extremist (jihadist) Islamist groups are not identical to any other terrorist group. Islamist discourse, and extremist discourse within it, must be clearly understood. Given the fiscal challenges of the Global War on Terror, the fact that its coordination may be at odds with great power competition, and certainly contests the interests of other smaller states (like Iran), why are we aiming at eradication, rather than containment, and is eradication possible? Differentiating a “true Islam” from the false and destructive aims of such groups is an important response. Each region-based administration has so crafted its anti-terrorist rhetoric, and Muslims, in general, are not willing to view their religion as a destructive, anachronistic entity, so this unfortunately difficult task of ideological differentiation is an acceptable theme. But it is insufficient as a strategy because Islamist insurgencies have arisen in the context of a much broader, polychromatic religious and political “Islamic awakening” that shows no signs of receding. That broader movement informs Muslim sentiment today from Indonesia to Mauritania, and Nigeria to London. Official statements will not diminish recruitment; deeds, not words, are needed. Finally, eradication may be impossible, but containment is philosophically unattractive. A combination of eradication (denial) and cooptation, as we have seen in the Muslim world thus far, probably makes sense. Certain assumptions that underlie U.S. strategies of denying and diminishing the terrorism of Islamist extremists therefore need to be reconsidered.

    Among the recommendations made in this monograph are:
    1. Revise strategies that too narrowly or too broadly define extremist networks and their operational modes.
    2. Acknowledge the evolution and change of Islamist extremist leadership and develop strategies to contain it. Utilize those who know the extremist bases of operations well and speak the appropriate languages instead of relegating this enormously difficult task to those who have no deep understanding of the area, ideological issues, or delicacy of the issues.
    3. Focus on antiterrorist as well as counterterrorist principles.
    4. Understand and respond to the increasing sophistication of Islamist tactical and strategic efforts.
    5. Carefully consider the impact of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and in other areas of the Muslim world on the stated aims of the Global War on Terror.
    6. Continue working with local governments in their counterterrorist and counterinsurgency efforts.
    7. Establish centers for international counterterrorist operations to specifically address Islamist extremists (rather than all global forms of terrorism).
    8. Avoid the use of physical and psychological torture and extralegal measures.
    9. Encourage local governments to normalize relations with Islamist groups, and utilize dialogue programs or amnesty efforts in order to return supporters of jihad to society.
    10. Recognize the potential of moderate Islamist groups and actors to participate in political processes. This does not mean that moderate or “progressive” Islamists as defined in urban American settings can serve as mediators or spokespersons for counterparts in the region.
    11. Extra-governmental diplomacy should be used to achieve mutual understanding on the relevant issues or obstacles to a more “global” pursuit of the Global War on Terror.
    12. Establish a multi-country, full media (Web, television, radio, and print) program to discuss and debate Islamist and other forms of religious extremism.
    13. Stay the course in promoting democratization of the Middle East and the Muslim world.
    14. Provide advanced training to military, intelligence, and political leaders on the history, evolution, and tactics of Islamist extremists.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-14-2013 at 01:55 PM. Reason: Add Mod's note

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    Default Containment requires deterrence

    A policy of containment has always had a component of deterrence. The enemy in this war is a death cult made up of religious bigots. They think they are on a mission from God so any compromise means they are going to hell rather than to the 72 white grapes/virgins. The only way to defeat them is to destroy them and their ideology. Containment is a concept that requires a rational enemy. A Nihilist enemy must be destroyed.

    BTW, the torture meme has had no apparent effect on the enemy one way or the other. Its principle effect has been in the west where it has impacted the sensitivities of those who do not want to fight the war vigorously. Clearly the NY Times and other leftist media organs have had much more to say about it than Bin Laden or Zarqawi. Since they have shown they would do worse if the situation were reversed it is hard to argue that they care beyond wanting to have their operatives give up less information.

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    Default I disagree

    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    The only way to defeat them is to destroy them and their ideology. Containment is a concept that requires a rational enemy. A Nihilist enemy must be destroyed.
    No it isn't. You out mobilize (mobility in the Maoist sense) and out organize while maintaining the moral high ground. In COIN, constant physical destruction of the enemy only proves futile; winning support amongst the population, they leverage your heavy handed overreaction to limited combat against you. You cannot fall into this trap by always responding with sheer violence of action. Eroding their popular support, you must steal their voice; you disenfranchise their ideology. It has nothing to do with being "less vigerous" to fight a war( ), nor does it have any "leftist" sway but has everything to do with succeeding.
    Last edited by GorTex6; 01-23-2006 at 08:40 PM.

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    Default Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting al-Qa’ida’s Organizational Vulnerabilities

    Recently posted to the SWJ Threat Page - 14 Feb study by the US Army Combating Terrorism Center - Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting al-Qa’ida’s Organizational Vulnerabilities.

    Here is the Executive Summary:

    This study, conducted by the faculty and research fellows of the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, serves multiple purposes, the most important of which is contributing to the depth of knowledge about the al-Qa’ida movement. Evidence supporting the conclusions and recommendations provided in this report is drawn from a collection of newly-released al-Qa’ida documents captured during recent operations in support of the Global War on Terror and maintained in the Department of Defense’s Harmony database. In the text of these documents, readers will see how explicit al-Qa’ida has been in its internal discussions covering a range of organizational issues, particularly regarding the internal structure and functioning of the movement as well as with tensions that emerged within the leadership.

    In the first part of the report, we provide a theoretical framework, drawing on scholarly approaches including organization and agency theory, to predict where we should expect terrorist groups to face their greatest challenges in conducting operations. The framework is informed as much as possible by the captured documents, and provides a foundation upon which scholars can build as more of these documents are declassified and released to the public.

    Our analysis stresses that, by their nature, terrorist organizations such as al-Qa’ida face difficulties in almost any operational environment, particularly in terms of maintaining situational awareness, controlling the use of violence to achieve specified political ends, and of course, preventing local authorities from degrading the group’s capabilities. But they also face problems common to other types of organizations, including private firms, political parties, and traditional insurgencies. For example, political and ideological leaders—the principals—must delegate certain duties to middlemen or low-level operatives, their agents. However, differences in personal preferences between the leadership and their operatives in areas such as finances and tactics make this difficult and give rise to classic agency problems.

    Agency problems created by the divergent preferences among terrorist group members present operational challenges for these organizations, challenges which can be exploited as part of a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy. Thus, the theoretical framework described in this report helps us identify where and under what conditions organizations can expect the greatest challenges in pursuing their goals and interests. Understanding a terrorist organization’s internal challenges and vulnerabilities is key to developing effective—and efficient—responses to the threats they pose and to degrade these groups’ ability to kill. The captured al Qa’ida documents contribute significantly to this type of understanding.

    The experiences of the “Moslem Brotherhood” and “The Fighting Vanguard” (al-Tali’a al-Muqatila) in Hamah, Syria are examined as a particularly relevant case study. The lessons learned from these groups’ efforts during the 1970s—based on the actual internal assessments of senior jihadi ideologues themselves—are summarized here. Many of the jihadi experiences in Syria have striking parallels to current al-Qa’ida sponsored operations in Iraq, and we highlight several that we believe are especially relevant. This case study not only expands our understanding of the al-Qa’ida network and how it operates under pressure from the government, it also provides a useful model for other researchers to follow in applying a similar theoretical framework to the study of other terrorist organizations and their potential vulnerabilities.

    Leveraging our framework and historical context from the Syrian case, we assess al-Qa’ida’s emerging organizational challenges, internal divisions, and places where the network is most likely vulnerable to exploitation. Our analysis emphasizes that effective strategies to combat threats posed by al-Qa’ida will create and exacerbate schisms within its membership. Members have different goals and objectives, and preferred strategies for achieving these ends. Preferences and commitment level vary across specific roles performed within the organization and among sub-group leaders. Defining and exploiting existing fissures within al-Qa’ida as a broadly defined organization must reflect this intra-organizational variation in preferences and commitment in order to efficiently bring all available resources to bear in degrading its potential threat. While capture-kill options may be most effective for certain individuals—e.g., operational commanders—we identify a number of non-lethal prescriptions that take into account differences in al-Qa’ida members’ preferences and commitment to the cause. Many of our prescriptions are intended to induce debilitating agency problems that increase existing organizational dysfunction and reduce al-Qa’ida’s potential for political impact.

    To achieve long-term success in degrading the broader movement driving terrorist violence, however, the CTC believes the United States must begin aggressively digesting the body of work that comprises jihadi macro-strategy. We therefore also seek to apply our model to the ideological dimension of al-Qa’ida revealed in numerous instances in these documents, the goal being to identify ways to facilitate the ideational collapse of this body of thought. The included documents provide insights into the points of strategic dissonance and intersection among senior leaders that must be better understood in order to be exploited.

    In sum, this theoretically informed analysis, along with assessments of the individual captured documents themselves, contributes to existing bodies of research on al-Qa’ida. It provides several tools for identifying and exacerbating existing fissures as well as locating new insertion points for counterterrorism operations. It presents an analytical model that we hope lays the foundation for a more intellectually informed approach to counterterrorism. And perhaps, most importantly, this assessment demonstrates the integral role that scholars can play in understanding the nature of this movement and in generating smarter, more effective ways to impede its growth and nurture the means for its eventual disintegration.

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    Default Hat Tip...

    Hat tip to Douglas Farah of The Counterterrorism Blog for the pointer to this study.

    Farah's post on this study:

    It is encouraging to see new signs that the military intelligence community is actively pursuing new, critical analysis both of al Qaeda's operational structure and ways of improving counterinsurgency stategies, particularly in Iraq. Given the recent British intelligence assessment that al Qaeda has a 50-year plan of attack, these developments are important.

    The West Point CTC project called "Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting al Qaeda's Organizational Vulnerabilities"-written about by Andrew Cochran earlier-analyzing documents seized from al Qaeda and declassified from the Harmony database, is particularly enlightening on al Qaeda thinking. It shows the new trend in U.S. intelligence-finding exploitable vulnerabilities in the enemy structure. Prior to 1999 there was no overall assessment of al Qaeda's organizational or financial infrastructure. In the post-9/11 world, survival and insurance against another attack led to little real emphasis being placed on al Qaeda's internal organizations, and even less was known about ways to excert pressure on the organization because vulnerabilities were not clearly identified.

    Now it is clear that al Qaeda is a decentralized organization that spends considerable time, perhaps more time than our own intelligence community and armed forces, on studying "lessons learned" from unsuccessful operations, both of itself and others (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood experience in Syria). It has, or at least has had, a coroporate structure that deals with everything from salaries to vacation schedules. It has internal discrepanies over tactics, targets and resource allocation.

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    ...another new paper from the same source: Stealing Al-Qa'ida's Playbook

    There's no ExecSum in this one, but I'll quote from the Foreward, which is by GEN (Ret) Wayne Downing:
    As the Defense Science Board observed two years ago, an essential element of U.S. combating terrorism efforts must involve strategic communications composed of coordinated public diplomacy, public affairs, open military information operations (which include psychological operations), and classified operations.

    The United States government reached a significant stage in the fight against jihadi inspired terrorism this past year when it decided to place a greater emphasis on fighting its ideological roots. Yet despite this appropriate course adjustment, the U.S. government and its Western allies generally do not know the main producers of this ideology and the significant issues that unite and divide the movement—information that is key to defeating it.

    Our authors suggest ways to address this significant shortfall. Not only do they attempt to answer the who and what sort of questions in plain language; they also outline a highly original method for discerning the answers to these questions that has, up to now, been ignored or poorly used.

    One of the best places to look for information regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the jihadi movement, Brachman and McCants argue, is in texts written by jihadi ideologues. Of course, a number of analysts inside and outside the U.S. government read texts like these for insight into al Qa`ida’s strategic thinking. But it has been my experience that many of the most useful texts have not received attention. And of those that do, there are often useful pieces of information that get overlooked. There are two reasons for this:

    • First, there is an overabundance of texts. Since there is no metric yet for determining which works are important within the jihadi movement, text selection tends to be a very subjective process and minor thinkers sometimes receive more attention than they deserve. Moreover, the overabundance of texts and the paucity of analysts mean that the latter must often scan texts rapidly for important information, which is sometimes predetermined by their initial assumptions. Time and resources are not available for looking for information that challenges these assumptions.

    • Second, useful pieces of information are overlooked because many analysts who are new to this literature do not know what to look for. As Brachman and McCants observe, jihadi leaders are remarkably open and blunt when discussing who their biggest competition is and what their PR vulnerabilities are. This is precisely the sort of information needed for crafting effective counterterrorism strategies. The authors of this article have given several concrete examples of what type of information to look for, making it easy for others to use their method.

    If the jihadis are right in their assessment of geopolitics and the situation in the Middle East, overt U.S. military action or diplomacy can often be more harmful than helpful in the fight against jihadi inspired terrorism. Indeed, the jihadi ideologues surveyed in the article focus most of their attention on psychological operations to exploit our actions rather than on large scale, direct military action.

    Understanding the vulnerabilities of the jihadi movement is the necessary prelude to defeating it. In this article, Brachman and McCants give us the tools and some recommendations to do just that.
    Note that the authors are using similar methodology to that used by the author of the recent ICG paper I linked to in an earlier thread - that of exploiting the material openly published by the bad guys for insights that could potentially drive the development of effective operational measures against them.

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    Default Lessons for Countering Al-Qaeda

    Testimony presented to the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities on February 16, 2006:

    Bruce Hoffman, RAND: Combating Al Qaeda and the Militant Islamic Threat
    Four and a half years into the war on terrorism, the United States stands at a crossroads. The sustained successes of the war’s early phases appear to have been stymied by the protracted insurgency in Iraq and our inability either to kill or capture Usama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri. More consequential, but less apparent perhaps, has been our failure to effectively counter our enemies’ effective use of propaganda and related information operations. Their portrayal of America and the West as an aggressive and predatory force waging war on Islam not only continues to resonate among large segments of the Muslim world but also continues to undermine our own efforts to break the cycle of recruitment and regeneration that sustains al Qaeda and the militant, global jihadi movement it champions. Although many reasons are often cited for the current stasis in America’s war on terrorism—from the diversion of attention from bin Laden and al-Zawahiri caused by Iraq to inchoate U.S. public diplomacy efforts——the real cause is at once as basic as it is prosaic: we still don’t know, much less, understand our enemy...
    James Philips, Heritage Foundation: The Evolving Al Qaeda Threat
    Al-Qaeda is a transnational Sunni Islamist terrorist network operating in over 60 countries around the world. At the center of the web is the core group, which I will refer to as al-Qaeda Central (AQC), a disciplined, highly-professional cadre of committed revolutionaries, which now probably consists of less than 1,000 dedicated members, and perhaps less than 500. Although it has become the most hunted terrorist group in world history since its September 11, 2001 attacks and has been severely degraded by substantial losses, it remains a resilient and potent threat to the United States...
    Zeyno Baran, Nixon Center: Combating al-Qaeda and the Militant Islamic Threat
    Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, for the opportunity to appear before you to share with you my views on combating al-Qaeda and the militant Islamic threat. I will focus my remarks on two key issues and then suggest some policy options.

    I. The threat posed by militant Islam is neither new nor solely military in nature; instead, the challenge is primarily an ideological one. Unless we understand this ideology that gives rise to extremist violence, we will not succeed in defeating either the terrorists or the “non-violent” Islamists who seek to trigger a clash with the West.

    II. Western Europe has become a central battlefield in the war of ideas within Islam between moderates and radicals. For decades, radicals have taken advantage of the legal and societal openness of Western Europe to strengthen their organizations and spread their ideas—and furthermore to export radical ideas and radical activities to Muslim lands. The continuing inability of the West to differentiate between moderates and radicals is resulting in the legitimization of radicals and the isolation of moderates. The failure to effectively integrate its Muslim citizens, coupled with the eventual return from Iraq of European Muslims with experience in armed jihad, will lead to even more serious problems in the future—both for Europe and the U.S....
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 02-21-2006 at 03:28 AM.

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    Default Jihad With All the Medical Benefits

    24 Feb. Washington Times commentary - Jihad With All the Medical Benefits by Austin Bay.

    Al Qaeda's "bylaws" -- describing the medical and holiday benefits package -- is one of two-dozen recently declassified documents available at West Point's "Combating Terrorism Center".

    Most of the documents were translated during 2002, which suggests coalition forces acquired them in Afghanistan. I'm certain the Defense Department would not have released the documents if they had any remaining operational utility. Their instructive value, however, is extraordinary. The documents provide detailed -- if at times jarring -- insight into al Qaeda's goals, its penchant for meticulous planning, its use of propaganda and its intent to use weapons of mass destruction.

    Still, the Defense Department needs to declassify more documents like these. If Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld thinks al Qaeda has an "information warfare" advantage -- and he said so last week -- one way to erode that advantage is exposing al Qaeda's vicious ambitions, calculated plans and manipulative intents. These documents do that...

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    The Jamestown Foundation, 28 Feb: Al-Qaeda's Insurgency Doctrine: Aiming for a "Long War", by Michael Scheuer.
    Conventional national militaries train, think, and fight according to their doctrine. To date, however, America and the West have not sufficiently appreciated that al-Qaeda, too, is fighting the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan according to a doctrine of its own. That doctrine has been developed from the group's experiences during the Afghan war against the Red Army, and has matured through each of the insurgencies in which bin Laden's fighters have since been involved, from Eritrea to Xinjiang to Mindanao. In presenting their doctrine, al-Qaeda's strategists also have tipped their turbans to the significant lessons they have learned from Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Mao, General Giap, and even Ahmed Shah Masood, as well from the training manuals of the U.S. and UK Marines and Special Forces. Ironically, al-Qaeda strategists have discussed all of these matters for years in their Internet journals, but this discussion has garnered little interest in Western essays.

    The corpus of al-Qaeda's writings on the development and application of its insurgency doctrine is too diverse and voluminous to discuss in a single article. For present purposes, it will suffice to look at some of the insurgency-related work of five of the group's strategists: the late Abu-Hajer Abd-al-Aziz al-Muqrin, Abu Ubyad al-Qurashi, Abu-Ayman al-Hilali, Abd-al-Hadi, and Sayf-al-Din al-Ansari. These writings discuss the need to conduct the political and military facets of an insurgency in tandem. They are especially worth reviewing now because of the success al-Qaeda is having in using its doctrine against U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, a success that has prompted U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to rename the Global War on Terror as the "Long War" and to publicly lament that al-Qaeda is beating the U.S. in the political war being fought in the media. The essays used herein to analyze al-Qaeda's insurgency doctrine were published between January 2002 and February 2004 in the al-Qaeda Internet journals al-Ansar, al-Neda, and Mu'askar al-Battar...

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    Default Al-Qaeda Doctrine: The Eventual Need for Semi-Conventional Forces

    Michael Scheuer, writing for the the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 23 May:

    Al-Qaeda Doctrine: The Eventual Need for Semi-Conventional Forces
    ...al-Qaeda believes that it and its allies can only defeat the United States in a "long war," one that allows the Islamists to capitalize on their extraordinary patience, as well as on their enemies' lack thereof. Before his death in a firefight with Saudi security forces, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Hajar Abd al-Aziz al-Muqrin, wrote extensively about how al-Qaeda believed the military fight against the United States and its allies would unfold. He envisioned a point at which the mujahideen would have to develop semi-conventional forces. He identified this period as the "Decisive Stage".

    Al-Muqrin told his insurgent readers that the power of the United States precluded any expectation of a quick victory. He wrote that the war would progress slowly through such phases as initial manpower mobilization, political work among the populace to establish trust and support, the accumulation of weaponry and other supplies, the establishment of bases around the country and especially in the mountains, the initiation of attacks on individuals and then a gradual intensification of the latter until a countrywide insurgency was underway. Each of these steps was essential and none could be skipped, al-Muqrin maintained; the steps would prolong the war, thereby allowing the mujahideen to grow in numbers, experience and combat power. "We should warn against rushing from one stage to the next," he wrote. "Rather, we should be patient and take all factors into consideration. The fraternal brothers in Algeria, for instance, hastily moved from one stage to the other…The outcome was the movement's retreat...from 1995-1997."...

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    Default Secrets of al-Qa'eda Propaganda War

    23 June London Daily Telegraph - Cameraman Reveals Secrets of al-Qa'eda Propaganda War by Isambard Wilkinson.

    An al-Qa'eda propagandist has revealed the inner workings of the terrorist network's media machine, describing how he was summoned to a hideout in Afghanistan to shoot a video of Osama bin Laden's deputy.

    Qari Mohammed Yusuf, a cameraman, described in an interview with the Associated Press news agency how a courier brought a summons to him. It read: "The emir wants to send a message."

    The emir, meaning prince or commander, was Ayman al-Zawahiri, who wanted to broadcast a message of defiance proclaiming that he had survived an American air strike.

    Yusuf, 30, claimed that he followed the courier's directions to one of Zawahiri's hideouts in January. "Everything was ready," said the bearded cameraman. "There was just myself and the emir. I used a small Sony camera. It lasted just half an hour.

    "They chose the place. They fix it and then they just say to me to come, and my job is only to record it. These are their rules, and no one asks any questions."...

    The speed with which the Taliban and al-Qa'eda manage to respond to events in Afghanistan and churn out propaganda has frustrated commanders. "The Taliban are winning the propaganda war," said one senior British officer in Afghanistan...

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    Default Experts: Al-Qaida Has Transformed Since 9/11

    6 September Voice of America - Experts Say Al-Qaida Has Transformed Itself Since 9/11 by Andre de Nesnera. Reposted in whole per VOA guidelines - bolded text by SWC.

    The attacks of September 11, 2001 launched President Bush's global "war on terror" - a struggle that is still going on five years later.

    The first target was Afghanistan, where the Taleban government was harboring al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. A U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taleban, but Osama bin Laden remains at large, believed to be hiding in the rugged terrain between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    American Enterprise Institute terrorism expert Danielle Pletka says al-Qaida has been significantly weakened since the beginning of the Bush administration's "war on terror."

    "They are constantly under assault. Their financial lifelines have dried up. Their weaponry has dried up. Anytime your leader is hiding in a cave, it is hard to say that you are in the same strong position you were in when you were living in a mansion," noted Pletka.

    Many experts agree that the "war on terror" has been successful in degrading al-Qaida's operational capabilities.

    One of those is Brian Jenkins, a leading authority on terrorism working for the RAND Corporation. But he says the U.S. and its allies have not been successful in denting al-Qaida's determination to continue its "jihad," or holy war, against the West.

    "We have not blocked their communications. We have not blunted their message. We have not impeded their recruiting, nor have we prevented them from planning and preparing new terrorist attacks.
    There have been close to 30 communications from Osama bin Laden himself since 9/11 - a greater number from his lieutenant [Ayman] Al-Zawahiri," said Jenkins. "The fact that they can, despite the security risks involved, still deliver videotapes and audiotapes to television stations, indicates an ability to deliver other things. If they can get a tape to al-Jazeera, they can get a secret message to someone else, and it suggests that it would be premature to write off the center."

    Jenkins says since 9/11, al-Qaida has transformed itself into something other than a radical Islamist group.

    Al-Qaida has transcended its historic organizational skin to become an ideology, and I think it is probably more correct today to speak of the 'jihadist enterprise' which is inspired by al-Qaida's ideology," he continued. "Now that may include the veterans of the original terrorist organization. It includes a new cohort of fighters who are gaining their experience and skills in Afghanistan and Iraq today. It includes affiliated groups in Indonesia, in Egypt, in Algeria, in Saudi Arabia. And it includes those self-radicalizing entities who may not have any organizational connections with the historic al-Qaida, or any center at all, but who self-radicalize and who, on the appeal of al-Qaida's message, turn themselves into weapons."

    Jenkins says since al-Qaida is now an ideology, the removal of Osama bin Laden would have less effect on the whole terrorist enterprise now than it would have had four or five years ago.

    "The fact that he has been able to survive, the fact that he has formulated this narrative over the past five years, the fact that this ideology has spread via the internet and other means of communications throughout the globe, does suggest that his departure now, while it would have some impact, psychological impact, would not necessarily lead to the demise of the enterprise itself," explained Jenkins.

    Given the international scope of the terrorist threat, Jenkins and others believe the "war on terror" will go on for a long time. Experts say a successful outcome will involve a combination of vigilance at home and increased international cooperation.

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    Of course they've transformed. All successful terrorist groups do. What has really helped Al-Qaida in this effort is their linkage to Islam (radical or otherwise), which has a much wider appeal than the Marxist-Lenninist calls of most of the terror groups in the 1980s.

    It's worth remembering that most of the terrorist groups that survived for the long haul (over ten years) had links to nationalist/ethnic minority causes (the ETA or PLO) or quasi-religious overtones or links (the IRA and UDA both come to mind). Any terrorist group that can link itself to something with pre-existing social value within a society or community has a much greater chance of surviving and thriving.

  15. #15
    Council Member CPT Holzbach's Avatar
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    Default How Al-Qaida may evolve, or end.

    How Al-Qaida may evolve, or end:

    The war on terrorism might be perpetual, but the war on al-Qaida will end. Although the al-Qaida network is in many ways distinct from its terrorist predecessors, especially in its protean ability to transform itself from a physical to a virtual organization, it is not completely without precedent. And the challenges of devising an effective response over the long term to a well-established international group are by no means unique. Al-Qaida shares elements of continuity and discontinuity with other terrorist groups, and lessons to be learned from the successes and failures of past and present counterterrorist responses may be applicable to this case. Current research focuses on al-Qaida and its associates, with few serious attempts to analyze them within a broader historical and political context. Yet this context sheds light on crucial assumptions and unanswered questions in the campaign against al-Qaida. What do scholars know about how terrorist movements end? What has worked in previous campaigns? Which of those lessons are relevant to understanding how, and under what circumstances, al-Qaida will end?
    Last edited by CPT Holzbach; 09-15-2006 at 01:06 PM.
    "The Infantry’s primary role is close combat, which may occur in any type of mission, in any theater, or environment. Characterized by extreme violence and physiological shock, close combat is callous and unforgiving. Its dimensions are measured in minutes and meters, and its consequences are final." - Paragraph 1-1, FM 3-21.8: Infantry Rifle PLT and SQD.

    - M.A. Holzbach

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    Andrew Black, writing for the the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 21 Sep:

    Al-Suri's Adaptation of Fourth Generation Warfare Doctrine
    In a highly influential and sizeable treatise posted in January 2005 and titled "The Global Islamic Resistance Call," jihadi ideologue Abu Musab al-Suri (aka Mustafa Setmariam Nasar) culminated a life of activity by providing his strategic template for the Global Salafi-Jihad. This work, rare for its self-examining and almost scientific approach, provides details for how the jihad should pursue its campaign henceforth. While not outwardly acknowledging it, al-Suri's strategic manifesto carries many of the same tenets of fourth generation warfare (4GW) as outlined by military analyst William Lind. Perhaps the reason he did not cite Lind's writings as motivation is that al-Suri's work demonstrates a significant step in the development of the 4GW doctrine...

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    Default Al-Hakaima Positions Himself for Key Role in the Global Salafi-Jihad

    Chris Zambelis, writing for the the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 24 Oct:

    Al-Hakaima Positions Himself for Key Role in the Global Salafi-Jihad
    As the media spotlight continues to highlight Muhammed Khalil al-Hakaima's "Myth of Delusion," it is important to emphasize that al-Hakaima has authored other detailed works dealing with tactical and operational issues related to intelligence and warfare that warrant closer examination. These documents have been circulating for weeks on radical Islamist forums shortly after al-Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri introduced al-Hakaima as an al-Qaeda partner in a videotaped statement issued on August 5. They are also available on the website of al-Thabeton ala al-Ahad (Those who Stand Firm for the Covenant), al-Hakaima's organization, in sections located on the website's title page labeled "Your Guide to Individual Jihad" and "Statements by Sheikh al-Hakaima." It appears that these documents are part of a collection of publications, including a manual entitled "Towards a Better Strategy to Resist the Occupiers" (http://www.althabeton.co.nr). Similar to "Myth of Delusion," these works are well researched and contain detailed information on practical aspects of intelligence, conventional warfare, special operations, assassinations, insurgency and related topics. The underlying theme in al-Hakaima's publications stresses the importance of individual initiative on the part of aspiring extremists who are called on to hone their skills and take up arms against what he labels the "enemy occupiers."...
    Related article in the same issue: Online Jihadi Forums Provide Curriculum for Aspiring Mujahideen

  18. #18
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    Default Beyond Al-Qaeda

    Beyond Al-Qa'ida Part 1 - The Global Jihadist Movement
    Defeating the global jihadist movement—which we define as al-Qaeda and the universe of jihadist groups that are associated with or inspired by al-Qaeda—is the most pressing security challenge facing the United States today. The global jihadist movement can be distinguished from traditional or local jihads, which are armed campaigns conducted by Islamist groups against local adversaries with usually limited aims as well as geographic scope, in that it targets the United States and its allies across the globe and pursues broad geopolitical aims...


    Beyond al-Qaeda Part 2 - The Outer Rings of the Terrorist Universe
    The “al-Qaeda universe” does not incorporate the entirety of the terrorist or extremist threat facing the United States. Clearly, Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders hope that their efforts will persuade other Islamic militant groups to join the global jihad. But what about the terrorist or extremist groups that are not part of the al-Qaeda network and do not adhere to its agenda? The temptation for policymakers is to set aside groups that have not chosen to join al-Qaeda as less dangerous. Yet these Islamist groups, non-Islamist terrorists, and criminal organizations still pose a threat to the United States, its interests, and its allies....
    Contents

    Chapter One: Introduction

    Chapter Two: Hezbollah and Hamas

    Chapter Three: Other Islamist Groups Outside the al-Qaeda Network

    Chapter Four: The Iraqi Insurgency

    Chapter Five: Non-Islamist Groups

    Chapter Six: Antiglobalization Movements

    Chapter Seven: The Convergence of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Crime

    Chapter Eight: Conclusions and Recommendations

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    More on Al-Suri from the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 18 Jan 07:

    Al-Suri's Doctrines for Decentralized Jihadi Training - Part 1
    The evolution toward smaller, more autonomous and decentralized organizational structures has been identified as a key trend in jihadi terrorism during the past few years. Confronting amorphous structures and networks, which lack clearly identifiable organizational linkages and command structures and in which self-radicalization and self-recruitment are key elements, is a formidable challenge for security services. The jihadi decentralization trend is clearly a result of counter-terrorism successes. These "defeats" have been scrutinized and digested in the writings of key jihadi theoreticians during the past few years. New roadmaps and operational concepts are being explored as the jihadis search for effective ways to operate in the much less permissive security environment of the post-9/11 era....
    Edit to add: Part 2, in the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 1 Feb 07:
    Training jihadi recruits in the post-9/11 world is increasingly about finding a safe place where training is possible rather than discussing curricula, facilities, selection of recruits, instructors and related tasks. In his voluminous treatise The Call to Global Islamic Resistance, published on the internet in January 2005, the Syrian-born al-Qaeda veteran Mustafa bin Abd al-Qadir Setmariam Nasar, better known as Abu Mus'ab al-Suri and Umar Abd al-Hakim, examines five different methods for jihadi training based on past jihadi practices:

    1. Secret training in safe houses.
    2. Training in small secret camps in the area of operations.
    3. Overt training under the auspices of states providing safe havens.
    4. Overt training in the camps of the Open Fronts.
    5. Semi-overt training in areas of chaos and no [governmental] control....
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 02-01-2007 at 07:16 PM.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Outstanding!

    Jed,this is fantastic stuff. Should be read by all. I know everyone is tired of me saying this but this article explains why the Strategic Framework of Ends,Ways and Means is not going to work. It is Motive,Methods,and Opportunity. The article explains it far better then I can but we had better wake up to this because these guys are not just tough, but smart!


    The counter so to speak, at least for the US is in SWJ magazine#7. I can not remember the name of the article but it is about the training philosophy used by Carlson's raiders. Again read the article, it is quite good.

    As usual for your listening plasure and cultural enhancement and dedicated to all the AQ assholes in the world. Keep looking behind you!! that is (US) you here coming to take you away.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmfgrcpRpoo
    Last edited by slapout9; 01-20-2007 at 03:46 PM. Reason: Good stuff

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