Category Archives: al qaeda

Some Red Team Musings

We are about half-way to a generation since 9/11, meaning about twelve more years until the same level of undergraduate affection for al Qaeda as the Commmunists enjoyed in 1966 (a generation since the beginning of the Cold War. Presumably al Qaeda’s command is trying to survive as a federated operational entity until this time.

Also presumably, al Qaeda should be looking at ways to stress the federal government while attempting to radicalize some percentage (10% 20%) of non-Muslim fellow travelers within the US. If they are smart about this, they would begin targeting TSA agents and attempt to align their rhetoric with the widespread revulsion the American literatti feels toward the TSA. For instance, our basic human rights to dignity in attempting to live our religion in peace is threatened by some elements of the US government, just as Americans’ own basic human rights to dignity with respect to not being sexually assaulted during travel is also threatened by some elements of the US government.

Al Qaeda has until now lacked the sort of ‘fifth column’ friends that the Soviets had in American Marxists. If they are smart, they will be looking to change that.

Review of “The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” by Lawrence Wright

I was chatting with Catholicgauze a few weeks ago. In that chat I mentioned I wanted to read the perfect book — something about a subject I had been following and cared about, but that would put all the pieces I already knew into a broader contexts. Without saying anything, Catholicgauze quietly purchased The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 and sent me a copy. I am glad. It is a perfect book.

Before I go into my reflection, here are some thoughts I shared in a thread on Coming Anarchy

I strongly recommend The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. I was turned off by the name, as it seems like more of a popular book than a history. Really, to capture the seriousness of the work, it should have a boring title, such as Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and the Islamic Group: Violent
Political Islam in the Wake of Sayyid Qutb (1966-2001).

Fortunately, Catholicgauze talked me into it, and I’m glad he did. From the trivial (bin Laden was an an acapella group that put out a cassette), to the insightful (two of bin Laden’s wives have Ph.D.s, he was the only of his brothers not to leave KSA for university), from the network-oriented (Zawahiri’s uncle was Qutb’s defense attorney) to the operational (Zawahiri had a spy within American special forces, who attempted to gain their trust by passing on secret (and true!) information about bin Laden; bin Laden’s previous organize, the Special Bureau, operated openly in the United States), The Looming Tower is a must read.

The book is written like a novel — while incredibly informative and surprisingly balanced, it is written by the author of The Siege — a movie that is sometimes blamed for discouraging the Clinton Administration from taking steps that would have averted 9/11.

The Looming Tower ends with a real-life cliffhanger — al Qaeda has been chased out of Afghanistan, the retreat into Pakistan was a bloody disaster, and Zawahiri is seen riding south on horseback.

The sequel is yet to be written.

Al Qaeda Theorist, Guest Blogger

Zenpundit points to the amazing happening of al Qaeda strategist, tactician, and theorist Abu Walid al-Masri guest blogging at at All Things Counter-Terrorism. An excerpt:

So we become ready for an intellectual dialogue with the security beauty and the terrorist fighter, Mrs Farrall, we take a tour with her in the different field of terrorism. She wants a tour so she can get a more accurate knowledge of the enemy so she can target them in a better way. I want the dialogue to clarify the truths to our Arab public and to all the people of the world if possible. The experiences of our fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets was a world experience that affected the lives of all people, but was decisive for many of them. Therefore our Arab experience in Afghanistan, concerns every person on this planet.

Unfortunately our enemies are those who exaggerate the presentation of that experience with whatever is suitable for their greed so that is why they draw our picture in a very ugly way so we look like terrorists who thirst for blood and kill innocents and so can be considered the greatest threat to humans on earth.

Read the whole thing, as well as an explanation of sorts from ATCT‘s chief blogger, Leah Farrell.

The Coming Popularity of al Qaeda

I have argued before that because of the Left’s fascination with “other voices,” al Qaeda will become a hip movement on college campuses (in the sense that Che is now or the Viet Cong once was) . This will happen in a generation after 9/11.

We’re already seeing signs of this. Among those 18 to 29 (who were about 11 to 21 at 9/11/01), twice as many people believe the U.S. government Let It Happen On Purpose — that is, the US government used al Qaeda as a patsy to achieve its own goals.

Gene Expression: Who carried out 9/11? Views Differ….
Question: “There are three main schools of thought regarding the 9/11 attacks. The first theory is the official story, and maintains that 19 Arab fundamentalists executed a surprise attack which caught US intelligence and military forces off guard. The second theory known as Let It Happen argues that certain elements in the US government knew the attacks were coming but consciously let them proceed for various political, military and economic motives; and the third theory Made It Happen contends that certain US government elements actively planned or assisted some aspects of the attacks. Based upon your knowledge of 9/11 events and their aftermath, which theory are you more likely to agree with?”

How long before we see an American presidential campaign worker wear an Osama bin Laden t-shirt? We’ve already seen love of the Communist terrorist Che among campaign workers.

Update: Purpleslog agrees.

The first 9/11 after 8/8/08

Many tributes to 9/11 are up today, including those by , Purpleslog, and zenpundit. This being the seventh anniversary of al Qaeda’s attack on our homeland, there will be many more, as well.

On this seventh year anniversary, it is important to see how we are winning. Small actors like al Qaeda control short-term situations, so they were able to cause a non-trivial amount of daamage to our economy, and set the board for us invading two Muslim countries. States, though, control long-term situations. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, al Qaeda is now simply a small faction inside a much larger civil war that is ultimately for the Afghanis and Pakistanis to figure out. We can continue to do the right thing, such as supporting those who want to open Pakistan’s economy to the outside world, and those who oppose al Qaeda specifically, but for now things are trending remarkably well. Even more in Iraq, into which both US and al Qaeda forces surged following our overthrow of Saddam Hussein, we have destroyed al Qaeda’s ability to fight and taken to the work of setting up a post-war government that can befriend its neighbors, accept international investment, and get on with the work of being a country.

9/11 no longer defines United States foreign policy. Chappen, apart from the hard work of hanging the political culture of the middle east does not look like it’s going to happen apart from the slow transformation of economies, perhaps as a result of their Oil windfall. al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self, the staunchly anti-American Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is dead (along with much of his family), and the staunchly anti-American Iraqi leader Colonel Gaddafi sold out for some help in digging up oil.

Instead, America’s grand strategy now seems to hinge on rolling back Russia and preventing the emergence of interstate war as a tool of diplomacy. Part of this involves allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons, as most recently highlighted by our preventing Israeli from attacking Iran and selling defensive weaponry to the Gulf states. It means encouraging our allies in Europe in completing the Ukraine-EU Association Accord, and accelerating Russia’s financial crisis. It means making it more difficult for Russians to invest in the west, and easier for Western governments to seize Russian assets. Other tools will be used when they are needed, as well.

The world after 8/8/08 is less emotional than the world after 9/11. Humans just hate to die in random catastrophic terror, and the perceived risk of that in our slow fight against Russia is much lower than in our war against al Qaeda.

Russia’s economy makes it a warlike version of Portugal. Russia’s nuclear weaponry makes it a warlike version of North Korea. Russia’s oil makes her a warlike version of Venezuela. Russia’s demographic collapse makes it a warlike version of Italy.

Russia’s international friendships make it part of the feared Russian-Nicaraguan Axis.

(You better watch out, or Belarus could join too.)

Our challenge now is easier than our challenge then. The fight against Russia is not a new Cold War, but merely a fight against the “lesser includeds” — the remainder from our hard work. Whether Russia was ever really in the New Core, it fell off the wagon. Russia is a problem to be dealt it, as is her use of War. But we’ve won much harder challenges. We will do well this time, too.

Another 9/11 rolls past. al Qaeda continues to melt under assaults from all sides. Our teachable moment with Russia is at hand.

Globalization rolls on.

On an Irradiation of Mecca

A stopped clock is right twice a day, and Tom Tancredo is one such nonfunctioning timepiece. Wrong on nearly everything that matters, he is nonetheless right that a nuclear strike by Muslim terrorists on the United States should be responded to with a nuclear strike on Mecca. If I may extend Tancredo’s logic beyond what he himself may be capable of, the Plain of Arafat, the Plain of Mina, and the Masjid al-haram should be irradiated such that human visitation becomes impossible for thousands of years.

New Yorker in DC, responding to my defense of such retaliation against Shlock’s assault, writes:

I believe that the main premise of [Tancredo’s and tdaxp’s] argument, that terrorists can be deterred if we make it clear that we will attack that which is of most value to them (i.e. the Kaaba and other religious sites such as Mecca, Medina, etc.), is wrong.

I ask Nykrindc this: Was the invasion of Afghanistan likewise wrong, as it destroyed something operationally most valuable to our opponents (a state-supported base)?

The answer is no: besides being a clear case of proportional response, the Afghan invasion also made the conditions of 9/11 much harder to replicate. The Roman response to the Jewish War — the destruction of the Temple — did the same. Rome destroyed the conditions that allowed a faith based on priestly worship to exist. “Jews” as a community continued, of course, but the religion of the Levites was gone forever.

In the same way, an obliteration of Mecca that leaves the city radioactive topples one of the five pillars of Islam.

People say that Islam needs a reformation. Reformed variants of Judaism thrived twice, both in response to a grand shock (the Destruction of the Temple, leading to Christianity, and the abolition of the European ghettos, leading to Reform/conservative Judaism).

On the other hand, if you are happy with the Islamic status quo — and remain so after a nuclear attack on the homeland — there is nothing to change! No such outrage is necessary.

al Qaeda, Dead. (Iraq, to be left)

From Peter Zeihan’s article on Stratfor‘s Free Intelligence Report.

With all the talk about al Qaeda “leaders,” al Qaeda “factions” and militants with “links” to al Qaeda, it is useful to take a step back and clarify precisely what al Qaeda actually is. Al Qaeda is a small core group of people who share strategic and operational characteristics that set them apart from all other militants — Islamist or otherwise — the world over. All signs indicate this group is no longer functional and cannot be replicated. Whether or not Osama bin Laden is still alive, al Qaeda as it once was is dead.

..

Furthermore, al Qaeda has left no one truly capable of taking up its mantle. The training camps in the 1990s processed hundreds of would-be jihadists, but the quality of that training for the rank and file has been exaggerated. Most of it was a combination of poor conventional combat training and ideological indoctrination. Hence, most “veterans” of those camps have neither access to the core al Qaeda leadership nor the operational security or tactical training that would allow them to reconstitute a new elite core. They are no more members of the real “al Qaeda” than today’s skinheads are members of the real Nazi party.

By the only criterion that matters — successful attacks — al Qaeda has slipped from readjusting global priorities (9/11) to contributing to the change in government of a middling U.S. ally (the March 2003 Spain attacks) to affecting nothing (the 2005 London bombings). No attacks since can be meaningfully linked to al Qaeda’s control, or even its specific foreknown blessing. Al Qaeda had hoped for a conflagration of outrage that would sweep away the Middle East’s political order; it only managed to raise a few sparks here and there, and now it is a prisoner of its own security.

al Qaeda in Iraq can and should be brought down in order to destablize the Middle East to our liking. But there are few good reasons to stay in Iraq, and many good reasons to leave.

And for the remaining al Qaeda wannabees in Iraq? The locals will take care of them.

Kill Baathists. Kill Qaedists. That is Military Victory.

Post-Zarqawi Goals,” by Cliff May, The Corner, 25 June 2006, http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NDFmYjFmOWY3NDJhOTAyZjIxMDExY2QyY2NmMDg2Nzc=.

Cliff May is talking sense:

The elimination of al-Qaeda commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi presents an opportunity that should not be missed: Now is the time to take a fresh look at America’s goals in Iraq.

Defeat at the hands of Militant Islamist terrorists and the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s forces would be disastrous.

The consequences would unfold over decades. The perception – and perhaps the reality – would be that the U.S. military, despite its technological prowess and the courage of its troops, is no match for enemies armed with cell phones and garage door openers (used to set off Improvised Explosive Devices), butcher knives and video cameras.

Now is the time to prioritize: The primary goal should be suppression of the forces once led by Zarqawi and Saddam, particularly, in and around Iraq’s capital.

I’ve said similar things before. The upshot: leave Iraq.


In my series entitled Guerrillaz, I used lyrics from the popular song “Clint Eastwood” to demonstrate why we should allow Iraqis to defend themselves.

I’m happy, I’m feeling glad…
I’m useless but not for long:
the future is coming on….
Finally, someone let me out of my cage…
I’m good at repairs…
look, I’ll make it all manageable…
a spiritual hero who appears in you to clear your view…
Gun smokin’, righteous
Allow me…

In the context of Iraq, the “I” are the Kurdish and Shia militias. Current US policy views them as detrimental to success in Iraq, but they are the future of Iraq. They are the energy of a freed people, the protectors against a return to Sunni despotism (whether Baathist or Qaedist). By enabling the majorities of Iraq — the Shia and the Kurds — to run their own country, we transform Iraq into a country that is manageable. The current Bush administration policy of appeasing terrorists creates an unmanageable country. Spiritual Iraqi heroes, from Sistani to Sadr, are the organizing force in Iraq. Instead of attempting to abort the Iraqi political climate by demanding special rights to the Baathist/Qaedist thugs that have destroyed Iraq, we should reward and salute those Iraqis who prevent a Sunni Baathist/Qaedist resurgence. They are gun smoking. They are righteous. And they should be allowed to protect themselves, their homes, and their lands.

A total victory in Iraq — where Iraq becomes “an engine for regional economic growth — will have to rely on the “Reverse Domino Effect.” It will be done through trade, not war. Economic growth first requires security, and that means letting the loyalty militias do their job. That means killing the Baathists and the Qaedists. And that means not confusing friends, who want to kill bad guys, and enemies, who want to kill you.

Free Software, Open Source, and al Qaeda

The Islamist Attack on Intellectual Property, by Thomas Lifson,” RealClearPolitics, 28 February 2006, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-2_28_06_TL.html.

Shortly after I commented that leveraging (“exploition”) is a normal part of politics, I was enraged at a particularly dishonest form of leveraging in the world of patents. Such is life.

Tom Lifton notes that some Islamist, somewhere (he doesn’t bother to cite, opposes the idea of “intellectual property”

It becomes clearer with every day that the Islamist faction within the Muslim world has an idealized vision of society entirely at odds with foundations of American society, and with the values of modern civilization. Free speech (including cartoon speech), religious pluralism, or female equality are only starters, important though each of these principles may be to us.

Recently, I was reading an Islamist website and discovered the following logo in an advertising-like box:

“Oppose Intellectual Property”

Of course, “intellectual property” isn’t mentioned in the U.S. Constitution


What is mentioned is the “exclusive Rights to their respective Writings and Discovers” for “authors and inventors” “ To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,.” Unlike actual property that is diminished by sharing, “intellectual property” is an artificial, temporary, government-granted monopoly on an abstraction. There is no “value” (that is, moral) issue associated with it. Rather, like the ability “to establish Post Offices and post Roads” that immediately precedes it, the exclusive Rights is a utilitarian device of the Congress to help economic growth.

To me, this article seems like a stealth attack against free software and open source software. I won’t go into the difference between “free” and “open-source” software, except to note that the free software crowd is more ideological while supporters of “open source” are more pragmatic. I used both for my thesis and my blog.

Both are part of the same decentralized tradition, that helped America win the cold war against the Soviets, Britain win the culture war against the French, and blogs win the 2004 election against the mainstream media.

Fighting against this people-power, against both the free software and open source movements, against the British newspapers and American blogs, are the monopolists. From the monopolists’ last gasps in the media to continuing political power, they seek to concentrate power for themselves.

Such behavior is natural. As are attempts to bolster their power by conflating people-power with al Qaeda. But it’s still sickening.

Abu Musab Zarqawi, Think Different. (The Muslim Brothers Already Are).

Praise be to God who gives strength to Islam with His victory….,” by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, U.S. Central Command, 9 January 2006, http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Shared%20Documents/What%20Extremists%20Say.aspx?PageView=Shared (from ZenPundit).

Long before he began his blog, or even guest blogging here, tdaxp has focused on al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He often knows better. Note this time, though.

think_different

Zarqawi should follow the Muslim Brothers. He should think different.

The Party can be considered the Iraqi branch of the — a scary politico-terrorist organization that assassinated Anwar Sadat. But the is supporting elections in Iraq, while Zarqawi’s terrorist group “” is opposing them. Why?

Because the Iraqi Islamic Party is thinking different.

Or more specifically: because the Iraqi Islamic Party is thinking higher.

While the classic work Man, the State, and War lists three levels of international politics analysis, really there are five:

Mnemonic Level Example
Man Individuals George Bush, Osama bin Laden
His Friends Groups Republican Party, al Qaeda
the State States United States, Iraq
Her Friends Alliances NATO, Arab League
War Systems The underlying assumptions

In his letter, Zarqawi castigates the Iraqi Islamic Party for ignoring the Groups level of analysis

We address a message to the Islamic Party, inviting it to abandon this rough road and ruinous path it pursued. It was about to destroy the Sunnis and implicate them in relying on worldly life and accepting the jahiliyah [pre-Islamic] rule, which they disguised as legitimate interests. They should have called on people to perform jihad for the sake of the almighty God and to grieve over our sisters and brothers in the prisons of the worshippers of the cross, instead of rejoicing and dancing in streets to celebrate an imaginary victory and alleged conquest. Where is their zeal for religion and Muslims?

As well as the States — the IIP seems unconcerned with seizing Iraq!

“This Party coordinated contacts with Zalmai Khalil Zad, the U.S. ambassador, who is ruling Iraq, when he met with their leaders in the Green Zone before voting on the infidel constitution, and told them: Vote on the constitution and have what you want. Thus the deal was struck and the Party started to give tempting bribes to certain tribal chiefs to convince them of the need to participate in the elections. What did they get in exchange? A seat in parliament was promised if the tribal chiefs promised to preserve the security of the U.S. forces in their areas. A religion is being sold and a jihad stopped in exchange for a seat in a parliament that does not prevent harm or fight infidelism. Has madness reached the extent that a man should sell out his religion for worthless mundane offers?

At these levels Zarqawi is right in his criticisms: Sunnis make up only 15% of all Iraqis, so a democracy would not favor Sunnis.

But the Iraqi Islamic Party isn’t looking at group and states — its looking at alliances and systems.

While Zarqawi is nickle-and-diming in Iraq, the Iraqi Islamic Party (along with the ) is looking at the Arab world.

The Muslim Brothers want Syria, where they would in a free election.
The Muslim Brothers want Egypt, where they would win a free election.

By thinking simply, Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq are fighting the US and against democracy to take one country.
By thinking different, the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Muslim Brothers are working with the US for democracy to take many countries.

The Muslim Brothers know better. They think different.