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Current Topic: War on Terrorism

Knowing the Enemy | George Packer in The New Yorker
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:25 pm EST, Dec 23, 2006

George Packer is simply essential. This is a long post because there is no way to boil this down.

"After 9/11, when a lot of people were saying, ‘The problem is Islam,’ I was thinking, It’s something deeper than that. It's about human social networks and the way that they operate."

That's David Kilcullen, an Australian lieutenant colonel who may just be our last best hope in the long war.

"The Islamic bit is secondary. This is human behavior in an Islamic setting. This is not ‘Islamic behavior.’"

“People don’t get pushed into rebellion by their ideology. They get pulled in by their social networks."

In the 1 December issue of Jane's Intelligence Review, John Horgan writes (sub req'd):

People who leave terrorist groups or move away from violent roles do so for a multitude of reasons. Horgan explains why greater understanding of the motivations behind this so-called 'disengagement' will help in developing successful anti-terrorism initiatives.

The reality is that actual attacks represent only the tip of an iceberg of activity.

Here's the abstract of a recent RAND working paper:

In the battle of ideas that has come to characterize the struggle against jihadist terrorism, a sometimes neglected dimension is the personal motivations of those drawn into the movement. This paper reports the results of a workshop held in September 2005 and sponsored by RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy and the Initiative for Middle East Youth. Workshop participants discussed the issue of why young people enter into jihadist groups and what might be done to prevent it or to disengage members of such groups once they have joined.

Now, back to the Packer piece:

The odd inclusion of environmentalist rhetoric, he said, made clear that “this wasn’t a list of genuine grievances. This was an Al Qaeda information strategy." ... “bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reëlection.” Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush’s strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.

You may recall the speculation that Bush would produce bin Laden's head just in time for the last elections. Perhaps the living bin Laden is a more valua... [ Read More (0.6k in body) ]

Knowing the Enemy | George Packer in The New Yorker

27B Stroke 6 | Cops Use Anti-Terror Funds to Buy Portable Fingerprint Scanners
Topic: War on Terrorism 9:13 pm EST, Dec 14, 2006

Columbus, Ohio police just spent about $120,000 in federal homeland security grant money to buy 40 cellular-enabled fingerprint scanners which will allow officers to run a fingerprint of a suspect against 250,000 prints in the city's fingerprint database, according to the Associated Press. The department says the Rapid Identification Terminal (wi-fi enabled!) will cut down on crime since officers will no longer have to route a suspected criminal to the central office, where fingerprinting can take up to an hour. This doesn't replace that procedure but let's officers find out if the person they've stopped has outstanding warrants or may be lying about his or her identity.

Of course, the temptation is going to be for the police to use this at every opportunity. And they might have gotten a hand from a recent Supreme Court case which upheld a Nevada law that requires someone to provide identification or identify themselves verbally during a Terry stop.

Terror begets terror? I'm terrified of what "law enforcement" is going to look like another 20 years into the War on^Hf Terror.

27B Stroke 6 | Cops Use Anti-Terror Funds to Buy Portable Fingerprint Scanners

To win against terrorism DOD networks must be innovative
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:20 am EST, Nov 20, 2006

“This war is more about will and perception than firepower. We have concluded that, in that sense, we are not equipped to attack the enemy. We must attack the intangible part of the network if we are going to win.”

“They have a safe haven on the Internet,“ he said. “No one in the U.S. military has been tasked with the mission of attacking these intangibles. Until we do they will operate with impunity.”

I'm sure there are assets in the AIA and the IC that can directly attack jihadist websites...

Remember this quote?

"I'm an artillery officer, and I can't fire cannons at the internet." -- Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt US Central Command

Speaking of CENTCOM.. Where is that guy from CENTCOM when we want some insight on something?

To win against terrorism DOD networks must be innovative

Top Democrat: Bring back the draft -
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:02 pm EST, Nov 19, 2006

Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way.

Remember when Democrats were fearmongering that Bush would enstate a draft if reelected... Um...

Someone please smack Rangel...

Top Democrat: Bring back the draft -

The Military Commissions Act in action
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:05 am EST, Nov 15, 2006

Immigrants arrested in the United States may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism and may not challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, the Bush administration said Monday....

Sen. Chris Dodd said prior to the election that he regrets the decision not to filibuster the MCA: "I regret now that I didn't do it . . . This is a major, major blow to who we are."

I agree with Dodd's assessment. These are not minor policy issues. These are issues that strike at the heart of American values. The larger themes are truly disturbing. Not the least of which are the attacks and attempts to marginalize the American legal system.

The Military Commissions Act in action

Counterterrorism Blog: Iran forging alliance with Al-Qaeda?
Topic: War on Terrorism 9:54 am EST, Nov 14, 2006

The Daily Telegraph reports today that Iran is seeking to wield influence within Al-Qaeda to help name its number three individual in the Al-Qaeda organization. If accurate, the report states that Ahmadinejad is trying to persuade Al-Qaeda to promote a pro-Iranian activist (Saif Al-Adel) to a senior position within its leadership.

For the past three years, U.S. intelligence officials have said a shadowy group called the "al Quds force"-- the Jerusalem force -- part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard organization, may be sheltering some al Qaeda leaders, including its military commander, Saif Al-Adel, and Saad Bin Laden, son of the al Qaeda leader.

It is now reported that Iran is seeking Saif Al-Adel to fill the number three position of the Al-Qaeda organization. It is also reported that is believed that Osama Bin Laden health problems may be causing Iran's push to have Saif Al-Adel in that role to complement Zawahiri. According to reports from Western intelligence agencies, Iran is training senior Al-Qaeda operatives in Teheran to take over the organisation when bin Laden is no longer leader. For some time, military officials have claimed that Iran is providing Iraqi terrorists with arms.

Follow through for more background information and links to sources..

Counterterrorism Blog: Iran forging alliance with Al-Qaeda?

Hot for martyrdom
Topic: War on Terrorism 4:07 am EST, Nov 13, 2006

Dr. Tawfik Hamid doesn't tell people where he lives. Not the street, not the city, not even the country. It's safer that way. It's only the letters of testimony from some of the highest intelligence officers in the Western world that enable him to move freely. This medical doctor, author and activist once was a member of Egypt's Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Arabic for "the Islamic Group"), a banned terrorist organization. He was trained under Ayman al-Zawahiri, the bearded jihadi who appears in Bin Laden's videos, telling the world that Islamic violence will stop only once we all become Muslims.

Those already versed in the beliefs of militant Islam will find nothing new here, however I still suggest reading this brief article. It's a good data point.

This in particular is quite amusing:

He leans back, takes a deep breath and moves to another area, one that he says is far too seldom discussed: "North Americans are too squeamish about discussing the obvious sexual dynamic behind suicide bombings. If they understood contemporary Islamic society, they would understand the sheer sexual tension of Sunni Muslim men. Look at the figures for suicide bombings and see how few are from the Shiite world. Terrorism and violence yes, but not suicide. The overwhelming majority are from Sunnis. Now within the Shiite world there are what is known as temporary marriages, lasting anywhere from an hour to 95 years. It enables men to release their sexual frustrations.

"Islam condemns extra-marital sex as well as masturbation, which is also taught in the Christian tradition. But Islam also tells of unlimited sexual ecstasy in paradise with beautiful virgins for the martyr who gives his life for the faith. Don't for a moment underestimate this blinding passion or its influence on those who accept fundamentalism."

A pause. "I know. I was one who accepted it."

It's rare to hear someone just come out and say it... People will blow themselves up to finally get laid.

Hot for martyrdom

Counterterrorism Blog: The Continued Misunderstanding of the Salafi Jihad Threat
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:02 am EDT, Oct 10, 2006

In an article titled "Al Qaeda finds new partner: Salafist group finds limited success in native Algeria" (The Washington Post, October 5, 2006) by Craig Whitlock, Western sources, including French and American, assert that the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (originally a local Algerian group) has become global by joining with al Qaeda. While the article is very interesting and informative, the analysis of the International Salafi movement by Western sources and expertise shows a continuous misunderstanding of Jihadism and its strategies. For in the essence of the article there is an assertion that the Algerian Salafists were restricted to fight their Government for "local" reasons, but it was U.S. intervention in the region that "compelled" the Combat Salafists to join al Qaeda worldwide. This assertion and other little informed debates taking place in the U.S. these days are committing an analytical sin: Projecting onto the Jihadists an alien thinking, most likely because of the pressures of American politics.

This article by Walid Phares in the Counterterrorism Blog is highly suggested reading.

Counterterrorism Blog: The Continued Misunderstanding of the Salafi Jihad Threat

The View From Guantánamo
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:26 pm EDT, Sep 17, 2006

How many right wing blogs are gunna link this one?

I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America’s war in Afghanistan. Like hundreds of Guantánamo detainees, I was never a terrorist or a soldier. I was never even on a battlefield. Pakistani bounty hunters sold me and 17 other Uighurs to the United States military like animals for $5,000 a head. The Americans made a terrible mistake.

It was only the country’s centuries-old commitment to allowing habeas corpus challenges that put that mistake right — or began to. In May, on the eve of a court hearing in my case, the military relented, and I was sent to Albania along with four other Uighurs. But 12 of my Uighur brothers remain in Guantánamo today. Will they be stranded there forever?

Like my fellow Uighurs, I am a great admirer of the American legal and political systems. I have the utmost respect for the United States Congress. So I respectfully ask American lawmakers to protect habeas corpus and let justice prevail. Continuing to permit habeas rights to the detainees in Guantánamo will not set the guilty free. It will prove to the world that American democracy is safe and well.

I am from East Turkestan on the northwest edge of China. Communist China cynically calls my homeland “Xinjiang,” which means “new dominion” or “new frontier.” My people want only to be treated with respect and dignity. But China uses the American war on terrorism as a pretext to punish those who peacefully dissent from its oppressive policies. They brand as “terrorism” all political opposition from the Uighurs.

The View From Guantánamo

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:14 pm EDT, Sep 17, 2006

He spent a typical day watching movies, going to class and playing football. He was fascinated to learn about the solar system, and now enjoys reciting the names of the planets, starting with Earth.

An interesting perspective on GitMo that I hadn't seen before. On the other hand I'm a little concerned that they have him reciting the planets starting from Earth. He ought to be starting from Mercury. I hope GitMo didn't teach him to be geocentric. :)

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp

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