Have the jihadists gone too far?

 In a fourth generation war, the enemy attempts to use the media and other institutions of the country it is attacking to its benefit. The images and reports of American soldiers dying in Iraq are used by the enemy as part of a strategy of demoralizing the American people in order to weaken support for the war here at home. But, as we all know, media is now a global phenomena and so the acts of violence that terrorists use to get airtime not only are shown in the US, but also in the Muslim world. As the terrorists in Iraq have taken to blowing up Iraqi civilians instead of just American soldiers, we are starting to see this having a negative impact among some of their supporters and others who are sympathetic to their cause.

I was browsing Austin Bay’s blog  http://www.austinbay.net/blog/ and came across an item that caught my eye. USA Today reports:

Al-Barqawi, known in militant circles as Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera from Jordan last week that militants in Iraq should revise their tactics, saying “the number of Iraqis killed in suicide operations has become a tragedy.”

…In the interview, al-Barqawi said suicide bombings should be carried out, only if necessary so that “no harm would befall Islam.” He also disagreed with al-Zarqawi on killing Shiites — a frequent target of attacks by al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups…

…Al-Barqawi, who wrote several books mostly on militant Islamic philosophy, is considered one of a few remaining terror ideologues, and he enjoys wide support among radicals worldwide.

…Al-Zarqawi defended attacks on Shiites, saying they had “sacrificed soldiers on behalf of the infidel occupier and supported them against the sincere mujahedeen.”

“After their support for the Crusaders, how is it possible for me to not fight them,” he said


What will be the consequence of one of their prominent supporters and ideologists questioning their strategy, suggesting that even he feels they are going too far? And he does this on Al Jazeera which is broadcast all over the Middle East. While the jihadists have proven themselves to be media savvy, we can see by Zarqawi’s response that following the internal logic of their ideology can easily result in actions that undermine their cause.

 So what if the acts of terror that are supposed to weaken the will of the American people, instead end up weakening support for the terrorists within the Muslim world itself? This is a situation in which the terrorists could end up defeating themselves. The same ideology that can serve as a powerful tool in a fourth generation war can also be a fatal flaw.

Posted by Phil


2 thoughts on “Have the jihadists gone too far?”

  1. Stalin liquidated the Old Bolsheviks, and Mao imprisoned Deng.

    Rapid Observe-Orient-Decide-Act cycles are very important can be very important in 4GW. As Mao said, “Just act recklessly and everything will be all right.”

    Unfortunately, “wets” rarely “damped” the whole of the 4G movement — they just isolate themselves from their compatriots and allow the movement to become ever-more-violent.

  2. You're right, these kinds of ideological groups do tend to become ever more violent. There are some people who are good at being violent and where that kind of talent is valued those people rise to the top. The organizations then take on the characteristics of these leaders as more moderate members are purged.

    It would be interesting to see a study of how ideological fanaticism impacts the OODA cycle. I would be inclined to think that it distorts the cycle and ultimately leads to strategically fatal decisions.

  3. Hmmm… Let's look at it from the three types of isolation: moral, mental, and physical.

    It decreases moral isolation, because the fanatic feels closer to God/Good/whatever. So he won't lose will that way.

    It increases mental isolation, because the fanatic substitues faith (literally, “trust”) for earned knowledge. But on the other hand, it decreases the chances he will be paralyzed by doubt.

    It physically isolates him from society, because now the police are after him. But if physically connects him to his fellow believers, who will go out of their way to help him.

    So all depends on the circumstances, I guess.

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