Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Ten Questions about al Qaeda

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    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    Ten Questions about al Qaeda

    Photo by Gerald , copyrighted.

    World Defense Review (WDR) 10 questions about al Qaeda

    At the eve of the this year's anniversary of 9/11, World Defense Review (WDR) conducted an interview with me on the current debate about al Qaeda and its Jihadi nebulous. The conversation took place with Thomas Smith, military expert and writer, based on themes raised by an article published in el Publico, a daily in Portugal and in other publications. The Ten questions asked by WDR focused on the central issue of how to analyze the war with al Qaeda, hence on the conclusions drawn in the ongoing debate within the expert, academic and political communities. My answers to the Ten Questions are certainly not exhaustive but tried to address the general directions of the current studies provided by a number of think tanks and colleagues in the field. Based on my more comprehensive analysis covered by my last three books, the points addressed the essence of the conflict with the Jihadists, the accuracy of identification of the ideology and the movement, and the strategic reasons for dissidence within the Jihadi realm. These remarks are a contribution to the discussion which is taking place during this 7th anniversary of the attacks of September 11.

    While World Defense Review did not ask our think tank these questions, we think we have something to add.
    DR. WALID PHARES: answers to these questions can be found here. Link

    Ten Questions about al Qaeda and its Jihadi nebulous

    Less than two weeks from the 7th anniversary of the most horrific terrorist attack on American soil, Middle East terrorism expert Dr. Walid Phares shares his thoughts on recent reports issued by a variety of analysts and think tanks, which are suggesting - among other things - the global war on terror should be prosecuted not as a war, but as an international campaign against criminals: An approach Phares believes is a recipe for failure.

    Phares also describes and explains the evolving strategic trends within the Jihadist movement worldwide, as well as the present state of Al Qaeda, the Jihadist ideology, the terror forces that subscribe to that ideology, and the approaches Phares believes may be taken by the next U.S. president.

    Director of the Future of Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Phares is a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy and an advisor to the TransAtlantic Legislative Group on Terrorism. He is the author of The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad, the third book in his series examining international terrorism and the dynamics that fuel it.

    Phares has been following and analyzing the rise of the Salafi and Khomeinist movements for nearly 30 years, and has been predicting the strategic rise of Jihadism since the end of the Cold War. Link

    Our (WDR) Q&A follows:

    W. THOMAS SMITH JR.: Over the past two-plus months, analysts and commentators have posited that Al-Qaeda (both the command-and-control nucleus and the - often disconnected elements of the - broader network) has been significantly weakened, perhaps to the point of insignificance. Do we have substantive intelligence indicating such?

    IATT: Internet Anthropologist Think Tank answer.

    There is good evidence that taking out al Qaeda's cadre leaves them with only second and third tier leadership.

    Look around your office how would the effectiveness of your section decline with leadership dropped down to the second or third tier leadership in command in your office?

    The element that is allowing the Jahidist movement to regenerate is the Internet and the Info war they are waging almost unopposed.

    While the C2 functions have deteriorated and they have become less effective it currently has the ability to regenerate to the level of the charisma of the leader driven by the Info war on the Internet.

    SMITH: Some - like author and terrorism researcher Marc Sageman - contend the greatest danger comes from young radicalized Muslims with virtually no connection to Al Qaeda and its leadership. Is this an accurate assertion?

    IATT: The terrorist hacker 007 may be the best example of the danger, the ability to shift context and formulate new uses for the WWW and the spread of propaganda to recruit jahiddies remains a unique 6th gen warfare threat.

    Irhabi OO7 wasn't a genius but applied simple answer to a new problem, in a new context.

    al Qaeda wasn't even aware of the potential of the WWW, Irhabioo7 saw it laying there and applied the WWW in new ways in a new context, developed it and presented it to al Qaeda in a working format.

    It is these new uses and contexts that remain the biggest threats.

    Imagine the super disassociation/disenfranchised one must feel from the rest of the world and all humans to strap on a suicide bombers vest and blow up not only your self but other innocent children and women even Mosques.

    This super disassociation/disenfranchisement is the underlying condition that allows suicide bombers to kill.

    This super disassociation/disenfranchisement overrides BASIC human instincts. Every suicide bomber has SOME reservations, Suicide runs contrary to DNA hard wired into us in the form of self and species preservation, with a history of as much as 10 to 7 million years for the species.

    These terrorist take normal jahid, the struggle to lead a good life under the guidance of Islam into

    approval to kill women children bomb markets and Mosques. al Qaeda has bastardized jihad.

    Al Qaeda has expressed new Nuclear ambitions.

    ...others talk about Al Qaeda resurging along the Afghan-Pakistan border as evidence that the central element stills exists, and that it still matters. Others argue that this is a more of a Pashtun fight, not Al Qaeda. Do we fully understand how much of what’s happening there has to do with Al Qaeda?

    IATT: This is a stragic retreat, from Iraq, where even al Qaeda realize they have lost and been rejected by Islam in Iraq. They have retreated to someplace they feel is safer, the area around the Durand line a actual pashtoon state.

    And we have evidence of a move into Lebanon by the C2 elements of al Qaeda. Also a place they feel safe from the West.

    SMITH: The recent RAND study by Seth G. Jones and Martin C. Libicki tell as that “terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors,” and so should be fought through law enforcement and intelligence agencies, not with armies. If so, what should be the strategy? And how is it different from what’s being done?

    IATT: We did a piece on this Rand report calling attention to what we saw as errors in the Rand Paradigm.

    RAND misses the boat, D+ grade

    SMITH: There has been some discussion that the term, “war on terror,” may fall into disuse. Will the next president of the United States continue to use the term to describe the war in which we are clearly involved?

    IATT: It has become a question of politics and Semiotics and the GWOT

    Police actions will not work if the terror force force exceeds the forces of the police.

    If the forces of the terrorist exceed the forces of the police then it is a war action.

    The Korean war was called a police action but everyone knew better.

    SMITH: In the years since 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, we’ve been talking about Al Qaeda as if it were a global force, with a reach extending from South Asia to the Maghreb and beyond. Then we’ve heard about Al Qaeda “the label” and “Al Qaedism.” From what we now know, how many of the ideologically sympathizing terrorist groups, from the Philippines to Algeria actually have connections to Al Qaeda and its leaders?

    IATT: The connections are very lose knit and few if any communications to al Qaeda. These other movements develop independent of al Qaeda and are adopted as they gain press and news worthiness.

    They gain some notoriety aligning with al Qaeda but lose support also.

    al Qaeda setting the Internet Paradigm

    SMITH: Twenty-or-so years after the birth of Al Qaeda, does it make sense to speak of winners? And is Al-Qaeda winning - even if we’re talking in terms of ideology and not pitched battles - or losing?

    IATT: Terrorism is losing as indigenous feel the wrath of the Taliban and al Qaeda and see how they govern, there has always been up risings against them. Afghanistan is a good example.

    But the world can ill afford to allow a group/movement with interests in using WMD to the discretion of local police, or even under funded Governments.

    al Qaeda is getting smaller and smaller from attrition, but the 911 attack was a small group also and al Qaeda still has Nuclear ambitions.

    Taking out the terrorist leaders current and developing will continually reduce effectiveness, but winning the Info war will reduce recruits.

    al Qaeda will end when all Islam denounces them.

    SMITH: Did the war in Iraq - as did the Jihad in Afghanistan - produce another generation of fighters?

    IATT: NO these are the produce of the Internet, The wars sped up the tempo and gave them a focus but did not cause them.

    SMITH: What about the increasing recruitment of women?

    IATT: Once again it is the result of "only options left", they are simply running out of suicide bombers, ( men ) and have resorted to what is left, if the women run out or get low then they will and have resorted to children.

    They have no Honor or integrity.

    SMITH: There are some signs of dissension within the ranks of Al Qaeda, as well as indications that Al Qaeda and their leaders enjoy lessening-support in Muslim countries. Did the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s cruelty and indiscriminate killings contribute?

    IATT: Their have been many holy men, Imams etc that have denounced al Qaeda and the Taliban but once again the West has not exploited these in the almost non-existence Info war on the WWW.

    The West lacks an organized approach to the Info war on the Internet.

    The terrorist are winning the Info war by default.

    The Info war is the basis for recruitment of jahiddies.

    al qaeda PROPAGANDA for Americans


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