"Theocracy" Watch: Netfaith Subversion and Deformation

Network Theory with Emphasis on Al Qaeda,” by Dr. Von, Vonny, 10 July 2005, http://vonscience.blogspot.com/2005/07/network-theory-with-emphasis-on-al.html (from Zen Pundit).

The new Girl Scouts,” by Bianca Vazquez Toness, Minnesota Public Radio, 11 July 2005, http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2005/06/30_tonessb_girlscouts/.

An “interim” post in the series now including

Coming Anarchy


Zen Pundit

A ideological religious movement subverts secular organizations to its own ends…

A group of Girl Scouts gather at a community center in Minneapolis. Like many Girl Scout troops, these young girls start each meeting with the Girl Scout promise. The girls face each other, holding their three middle fingers in the air, and recite their pledge. But this troop does it a little differently than most.

“On my honor,” they start, “I will try to serve Allah and my country, to help people and live by the Girl Scout law.”

Substituting Allah for God is one of a few tweaks the Girl Scouts of America have made to the traditional scouting rituals and practices to include Muslim girls. These girls wear traditional head scarves, called the hijab. They earn some badges unique to their faith. Islamic merit badges are rewards for learning prayers or teaching non-Muslims about their religion.

Hassan Mohamud wants to keep Muslim girls in a segregated Girl Scout troop. There are other leaders in the Twin Cities minority community with the same goal. That’s lead to segregated Hmong and Latina troops, as well.

Shelley Jacobson, executive director of the Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis, says the council will maintain all-Muslim troops since it’s one of the only opportunities for these girls to spend time with girls just like themselves.

(tdaxp Comment: Much like the early Christians subverted the Roman Empire.)

… while Dr. Von implies the need to deform another netfaith

One interesting aspect of this is to think of a social network such as Al Qaeda. This organization follows scale-free network structures, rather than some other types of social network structures. Other types may be a hub-and-spoke structure like a dictatorship, where a central hub runs the entire network. A tree structure is also possible, with a set chain of command (much like a typical military organization, where more minor decisions can be made locally in parts of the network, and major, global decisions made by someone like the President or a top general, and this decision cascades down to lower parts of the network simultaneously. Al Qaeda is neither of these, but rather a ‘web without a spider.’

If Al Qaeda had more of a military structure, taking out Bin Laden and some key lieutenants would likely cripple and possibly defeat the organization, much like taking out key generals in a war can have devastating consequences for the outcome of battles and perhaps the war itself. Unfortunately, it is not so simple with the terrorist organizations we are facing.

(tdaxp Comment: Caiaphas and Diocletian fought back by killing people, not deforming networks.)

Some tdaxp commentators worry about a “coming theocracy.”  What’s happening is far more powerful: the discovery that traditionalist religions make for powerful flat ideological networks.  But that is a post for another time…

Like Dogs or Escapees

Terror suspects escape US Afghan base,” by Mark Tran, The Guardian, 11 July 2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,1284,1526159,00.html.


US forces today launched a manhunt after four prisoners escaped from Bagram, the main US base in Afghanistan.

The men, described as “dangerous enemy combatants”, got away from the sprawling Bagram Air Base to the north of Kabul at about 5am local time (0130 BST), US officials said.

The Arabic television channel al-Jazeera quoted unnamed sources as saying the four men were Arabs, but a US official declined to confirm this.


So on what side does the military error: tying up inmates like dogs, preventing escape, or treating them in a way that isn’t embarrassing in the morning, preventing moral isolation?

Come to think of it, why is the kill-people-and-known-down-stuff portion of our military handling prisoners at all? Shouldn’t that be someone else’s core competency? Like a System Administrator?