SIXTH COLUMN

"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

New Email Address: 6thColumn@6thcolumnagainstjihad.com.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Evolving Al Qaeda Threat

There Are Others, but Al Qaeda is Bush's pick for the nastiest and most low down of the bunch. There inspirational and nominal leader, Osama bin Laden is hiding or may even be dead. A wealthy Yemeni, whose many sons and son's-in-law could carry on the fight. Right now a co-hort, an Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahir is his second in command.

Al Qaeda goes with the flow, adapting to circumstances and to the enemy. For them, here's the rub: we are also adapting.

emaah Islamiah, captured in Thailand; and Hamzah al-Rabbiyah al-Masri, a key operational leader killed in Pakistan. More than 4,000 suspected al-Qaeda members have been arrested worldwide since September 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda cells have been uncovered, dismantled, and disrupted in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. More than $140 million of its assets have been blocked in over 1,400 bank accounts worldwide.

Al-Qaeda remains a potent threat to the United States, its allies, and a wide variety of other states. But al-Qaeda's leaders increasingly must focus on their own personal security and have less time for plotting mass murder. It is more difficult for bin Laden and his lieutenants to recruit new members, train them, communicate with them, or carry out new operations. The isolation of al-Qaeda's top leaders, believed to be hidden along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, has reduced their ability to supervise the network's activities in other regions. They often must resort to unsecure low-tech communications such as letters carried by couriers. A letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's second in command, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda's operations in Iraq, was intercepted last year. Zawahiri chastised Zarqawi in that letter, dated in July 2005, for unleashing indiscriminate violence on Iraqi civilians, whose political support would be important for turning Iraq into a radical Islamic state.

Despite their tactical differences, al-Qaeda's leaders share the same long-term goal: the creation of a single, unified Muslim state governed by a harsh brand of Sharia (Islamic law). To recreate a version of the caliphate and build a radical Islamic empire, bin Laden and his associates seek to play the role of a vanguard party that will serve as a catalyst to inspire other Muslims to join in building their new utopia. Just as fascist and communist revolutionaries were willing to kill tens of millions of people to impose their utopian schemes in the 20th century, al-Qaeda's leaders are willing to spill the blood of millions to create their own radical vision of an Islamic empire in the 21st century.


According to Philips, the author, we must destroy the center of gravity, the leadership structure and finally the ideology which won't be easy:

Capturing or killing AQC leaders is more of an intelligence problem than a purely military one. Neutralizing the top leaders would not end the threat posed by al-Qaeda's network of quasi-independent cells, but over time it would diminish the scale of the threat, hinder their ability to coordinate operations, restrict their financing, and set back the recruitment, training, and deployment of new terrorist operatives. Capturing or killing bin Laden could demoralize his followers and deprive the organization of its charismatic recruiter, fundraiser, and financial backer. Without its top leaders, the network could fracture into independent franchises that would each pose less of a threat to the United States and its allies than al-Qaeda's present threat, which remains substantial.

The war against al-Qaeda will be a protracted struggle. There is no silver bullet, nor a single target that the U.S. could hit to win the war in one stroke. Even if Osama bin Laden is captured or killed tomorrow, Muslim extremists will continue to attack the United States for decades to come. "Bin Ladenism" has become a threat that will outlast bin Laden. It is important that he be caught or killed, but it is even more important that his ideas, his ideology, be decisively discredited.

Bin Laden is not just a terrorist, but an Islamic revolutionary...a very serious statement. The conclusion is that bin Laden movement is a true revolution, revolting against apostates all over the world, corruption in Middle Eastern States, the existence of foreign troops on "Muslim lands," the "occupation of lands formerly in Muslim hands at any time in history by Muslims, immoraltiy, and the destruction of Muslim values through the polution of modernity and the corrupting presences of other cultures that lure Muslims away from Islam.

There is a method is his madness:

He seeks not only to kill Americans, but ultimately to overthrow every government in the Muslim world, with the possible exception of the radical regime in Sudan, which once gave him sanctuary. His ideological fantasy is to unify the entire Muslim world in one state, ruled under his harsh and radical brand of Islam.


There are four crucial fronts in the war against Al-Qaeda

1. Pakistan/Afgjanistan.
Al-Qaeda emerged as an organization during the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and was based there after the Taliban movement seized power in 1996. The defeat and ouster of the Taliban in 2001 led many al-Qaeda members to flee to neighboring Pakistan, where they have been hidden and assisted by Pakistani sympathizers who seek to build radical Islamic states in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan is an extremely important front because it is one of the largest, most powerful Muslim countries and already possesses nuclear weapons. The coming to power of an extremist Islamist government possibly could lead to the transfer of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda or other terrorists favored by that regime.


2. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is an important front in the struggle because Saudis have provided leadership, financing, and ideological indoctrination to al-Qaeda members. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is the strategic storehouse of roughly one-quarter of the world's proven oil reserves. If the Saudi royal family were overthrown by a regime sympathetic to al-Qaeda, the future economic security of all oil-importing countries would be put at risk. If al-Qaeda gained control of Saudi oil wealth, or the two holy places (Mecca and Medina), it would be in a much better position to boost its jihad.

The Saudi ruling dynasty has made a Faustian bargain with the Wahhabi religious establishment in which it lavishly funds Wahhabi efforts to spread their fundamentalist brand of Islam in exchange for the Wahhabis turning a blind eye to the corruption and un-Islamic behavior of many members of the royal family. The Saudi government initially was happy to deflect bin Laden to attacks on American, rather than Saudi targets. But after al-Qaeda's May 2003 bombings inside Saudi Arabia, the Saudis cracked down on al-Qaeda supporters and undertook limited reforms in religious charities that had been funding bin Laden.



3. Iraq

Iraq is a critical front in the war against al-Qaeda because it has become a rallying point, a major propaganda issue, a staging area, and a potentially fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaeda. The United States and its allies cannot allow Zarqawi's al-Qaeda thugs to establish a permanent base in Iraq, which would become a strategic springboard for al-Qaeda to penetrate the heart of the Arab world, threaten moderate Arab regimes, and disrupt Persian Gulf oil exports.
In an audiotape released on December 27, 2004, bin Laden named Abu Musab Zarqawi as his deputy in charge of al-Qaeda operations in Iraq. Zarqawi, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, met bin Laden during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, but had retained his independence, in part because he believed bin Laden was too soft. Although they shared the same long-term goal of building a global Muslim state under a new caliphate, Zarqawi held a fierce hostility to Shiite Muslims, whom he regarded as heretics who should be converted or slaughtered, while bin Laden was willing to paper over sectarian differences until the "far enemy," the United States, was defeated.

As a former prison enforcer, Zarqawi also displayed a ruthless streak that shocked even some of bin Laden's supporters. He deployed truck bombs against Shiite mosques and religious ceremonies in Iraq in an attempt to provoke a civil war that would make Iraq ungovernable. Zarqawi also has made extensive use of videotaped beheadings of hostages in Iraq, which became a kind of popular jihadist pornography on extremist Islamic Web sites.


4. The European Front

he United States and many European countries have developed different perceptions of the threat posed by al-Qaeda. While the United States considers itself to be at war, many Europeans continue to view the threat as a law enforcement problem. The United States itself took this approach before 9/11. Indeed, al-Qaeda's first attack on the World Trade Center, a truck bombing in 1993 that killed six people and injured over 1,000, was treated as an isolated criminal incident. Al-Qaeda's local allies were arrested and brought to justice, but Ramzi Yousef, the ringleader dispatched from Al-Qaeda Central, escaped to plot more attacks until he was captured in Pakistan in 1995. Once the 1993 World Trade Center bombers were convicted of their crimes and put in jail, the American law enforcement authorities went back to sleep, unaware that American intelligence agencies were uncovering mounting evidence of al-Qaeda's threat to U.S. national security.

Europeans now have a greater sense of urgency about combating terrorism after the Madrid and London bombings. Europe's growing population of alienated Muslim immigrants forms an important reservoir of potential recruits for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Britain has reversed its long-standing policy of granting sanctuary to radical Islamic ideologues, which allowed them to use mosques in "Londonistan" to poison the minds of Muslims born in Britain. The London and Madrid bombings also demonstrated the need to combat al-Qaeda's ideology, not just its organized killers, because both terrorist attacks appear to have been carried out by local members of the Muslim immigrant community who were inspired by, but not formally affiliated with, al-Qaeda.

But Europe remains an important front for al-Qaeda, which essentially used one of its cells based in Hamburg, Germany, augmented by thugs dispatched from the Middle East, to launch the 9/11 attacks. Some of al-Qaeda's most dangerous members are believed to be European Muslims, who tend to be better educated, more capable, more mobile, and better able to blend into Western societies than those who grew up in the Middle East or South Asia. Abu Musab Zarqawi's predominantly Palestinian/Jordanian terrorist network, which merged with al-Qaeda in 2004, is reported to have relatively strong support from European Islamic radicals, and poses a growing threat not only to Europe, but to the United States and the Middle East.


WMDs are out there, being built, for sale, and eventually will be smuggled in to cause destruction and chaos. We must be ready for our citizens and to counter the threat.

Deterrence is a Countermeasure
The United States and many European countries have developed different perceptions of the threat posed by al-Qaeda. While the United States considers itself to be at war, many Europeans continue to view the threat as a law enforcement problem. The United States itself took this approach before 9/11. Indeed, al-Qaeda's first attack on the World Trade Center, a truck bombing in 1993 that killed six people and injured over 1,000, was treated as an isolated criminal incident. Al-Qaeda's local allies were arrested and brought to justice, but Ramzi Yousef, the ringleader dispatched from Al-Qaeda Central, escaped to plot more attacks until he was captured in Pakistan in 1995. Once the 1993 World Trade Center bombers were convicted of their crimes and put in jail, the American law enforcement authorities went back to sleep, unaware that American intelligence agencies were uncovering mounting evidence of al-Qaeda's threat to U.S. national security.

Europeans now have a greater sense of urgency about combating terrorism after the Madrid and London bombings. Europe's growing population of alienated Muslim immigrants forms an important reservoir of potential recruits for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Britain has reversed its long-standing policy of granting sanctuary to radical Islamic ideologues, which allowed them to use mosques in "Londonistan" to poison the minds of Muslims born in Britain. The London and Madrid bombings also demonstrated the need to combat al-Qaeda's ideology, not just its organized killers, because both terrorist attacks appear to have been carried out by local members of the Muslim immigrant community who were inspired by, but not formally affiliated with, al-Qaeda.

But Europe remains an important front for al-Qaeda, which essentially used one of its cells based in Hamburg, Germany, augmented by thugs dispatched from the Middle East, to launch the 9/11 attacks. Some of al-Qaeda's most dangerous members are believed to be European Muslims, who tend to be better educated, more capable, more mobile, and better able to blend into Western societies than those who grew up in the Middle East or South Asia. Abu Musab Zarqawi's predominantly Palestinian/Jordanian terrorist network, which merged with al-Qaeda in 2004, is reported to have relatively strong support from European Islamic radicals, and poses a growing threat not only to Europe, but to the United States and the Middle East.


There are many goals and objectives in the deterrence factory: deterring the harboring and supporting of terrorists through state sponsorship or by individuals; the appearance of victory is a deterrence and the overthrowing of tyrannical regimes and improving the lives of targeted peoples is a deterrent who hopefully will not cooperate with the insurgents.
And we must evolve

he United States and many European countries have developed different perceptions of the threat posed by al-Qaeda. While the United States considers itself to be at war, many Europeans continue to view the threat as a law enforcement problem. The United States itself took this approach before 9/11. Indeed, al-Qaeda's first attack on the World Trade Center, a truck bombing in 1993 that killed six people and injured over 1,000, was treated as an isolated criminal incident. Al-Qaeda's local allies were arrested and brought to justice, but Ramzi Yousef, the ringleader dispatched from Al-Qaeda Central, escaped to plot more attacks until he was captured in Pakistan in 1995. Once the 1993 World Trade Center bombers were convicted of their crimes and put in jail, the American law enforcement authorities went back to sleep, unaware that American intelligence agencies were uncovering mounting evidence of al-Qaeda's threat to U.S. national security.

Europeans now have a greater sense of urgency about combating terrorism after the Madrid and London bombings. Europe's growing population of alienated Muslim immigrants forms an important reservoir of potential recruits for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Britain has reversed its long-standing policy of granting sanctuary to radical Islamic ideologues, which allowed them to use mosques in "Londonistan" to poison the minds of Muslims born in Britain. The London and Madrid bombings also demonstrated the need to combat al-Qaeda's ideology, not just its organized killers, because both terrorist attacks appear to have been carried out by local members of the Muslim immigrant community who were inspired by, but not formally affiliated with, al-Qaeda.

But Europe remains an important front for al-Qaeda, which essentially used one of its cells based in Hamburg, Germany, augmented by thugs dispatched from the Middle East, to launch the 9/11 attacks. Some of al-Qaeda's most dangerous members are believed to be European Muslims, who tend to be better educated, more capable, more mobile, and better able to blend into Western societies than those who grew up in the Middle East or South Asia. Abu Musab Zarqawi's predominantly Palestinian/Jordanian terrorist network, which merged with al-Qaeda in 2004, is reported to have relatively strong support from European Islamic radicals, and poses a growing threat not only to Europe, but to the United States and the Middle East....


Bush Steps Up

By identifying the enemy specifically as Islamic radicalism, rather than the more generic "terrorism," Bush's speec was a step forward in the evolving U.S. approach to defeating al-Qaeda. The change signifies a recognition that terrorism is only a part of bin Laden's revolutionary strategy for imposing his harsh Islamic ideology on the Muslim world, and that "bin Ladenism" will outlast bin Laden. A wide variety of radical Islamic groups have copied al-Qaeda's terrorist tactics and share its revolutionary ideology. To defeat al-Qaeda, the U.S. and its allies must not only destroy its leadership, but also destroy its ability to recruit replacements by discrediting its violent ideology.

Bush also restated his five-point strategy for defeating Islamic terrorists: prevent attacks before they occur; deny terrorists weapons of mass destruction; deny terrorists sanctuary; prevent terrorists from gaining control of any nation; and promote democratic reform, respect for human rights, and enforcement of the rule of law in the Middle East to undermine the ability of terrorists to recruit new followers.

President Bush's October 6 speech was important proof that his Administration recognizes the importance of the global war of ideas as well as the war against terrorists in Iraq and other battlefields. The President set crucial long-term goals and outlined a broad strategy for defeating Islamic radicalism. Now the U.S. government must follow through with effective operational plans to build a stable democracy in Iraq; encourage democratic, economic, and educational reforms in the Middle East; and work with a broad coalition of allies in the Muslim world and elsewhere to discredit and defeat the lethal ideology of radical Islam.


March 21, 2006, in a Presidential Press Conference, George Bush identified the enemy as killers with an agenda to destroy America. He told us in plain words that this war would last a very long time. Mistakes were made and we are adapting as is the enemy. Victory is this war is essential.

The focus is on Al Qaeda now, but there are many, many other groups that will for the gap when the destruction is complete. Afghanistan and Iraq are merely battles in the war which the President labeled WWIV, pausing and regressing to name the time period after WWII known as the "Cold War," WWIII. But he still persists in calling WWIV the "War on Terror" and Al Qaeda our main enemy whose ideology is with which we are at war.

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