I ran across this piece whilst reading another article by Niall Ferguson entitled 'The End of Chimerica' and thought it interesting enough to share. Now personally I find it a bit hit and miss in places and the tone of it can be a bit grating at times but I think it brings up some possibly good points. Apologies for the length of it.
How To Defeat The Global Jihadists
I have recently spent time talking with senior Pentagon officials and others involved in counter-terrorism. Their intellectual seriousness, and the global scope of their concerns, are strikingly different from those of their British counterparts, who are obsessed with âcommunity cohesionâ and the âradicalisationâ of young Muslims. On these issues, the views of the non-Muslim majority population are largely ignored â except as potential âIslamophobesâ with little or no say in the matter.
In the United States, by contrast, the Senate committee on homeland security heard evidence in April about the likely effects of a terrorist nuclear attack on Washington DC. The chairman, Senator Joe Lieberman, said, âThe scenarios we discuss today are very hard for us to contemplate, and so emotionally traumatic and unsettling that it is tempting to push them aside.â
What was Lieberman talking about? A 10-kiloton bomb left in a truck by the White House would kill about 100,000 people and erase a two-mile radius of mainly federal buildings downtown. Most casualties would be burn victims, the majority of them African-Americans who work for the federal government. About 95 per cent of them would die an agonising death, because current capacity to treat such cases is limited to about 1,500. Since the winds blow west to east, the ensuing radioactive plume would drift towards the poor black neighbourhoods of the capitalâs South East where there is only one hospital. Lieberman concluded, âNow is the time to have this difficult conversÂation, to ask the tough questions, and then to get answers as best we can.â One wonders what preparations for such a nightmare scenario are being made here in Britain. Are our parliamentarians asking these questions and enabling us to have this conversation?
As the main target of jihadist violence, the US has a sober estimÂation of the threat we face, and a polyvalent strategy for dealing with it. David Kilcullen, a leading Australian strategist attached to the US State Department, has dubbed the threat âthe global jihadist insurgencyâ. This seems as good a term as any of the alternatives to the âwar on terrorâ, use of which has been officially proscribed by the Brown government, even as local representatives of this insurgency process through British courts in startling numbers. The list is long: the mastermind Dhiren Barot; the men convicted in the wake of âOperation Creviceâ; Younis Tsouli, the cyber-jihadist; Parviz Khan, who sought to film the decapitation of a Muslim soldier in a Birmingham garage; trials related to both the 7/7 and 21/7 bomb attacks in London; the eight alleged Heathrow planes plotters; and such fund-raisers and rabble-rousers as Abu Hamza and Trevor Brooks, alias Abu Izzadeen. A recent Europol report pointed out that in 2007 the British arrested 203 terrorist suspects; the figure for the rest of Europe is 201.
By contrast the US is fighting a global war against an al-Qaâeda-inspired nebula of extremists, with both arms and ideas. A vast array of analytic intelligence, is devoted to the threat. Leading figures regard this war as akin to competition between brands. They want al-Qaâeda to go the way of Fordâs Edsel, a notorious failure in the automobile market, rather than to strengthen like Audi, Coca-Cola or Nike. Part of this drive is to depict al-Qaâeda and its affiliates as âarchitects of chaosâ, a term coined by the British general Graeme Lamb. Assistant defense secretary Michael Doran, head of counter-terrorism in the Pentagon, says, âal-Qaâeda builds nothing; it only destroys.â Doranâs object is to sow doubt in the minds of Muslims regarding the grimly narcissistic vision of universal Islamic victimhood propagated by the jihadists. Doran claims that we are âat the end of the beginningâ, although any signs of al-Qaâedaâs decline in one regionÂâ say South East Asiaâ have to be balanced against its resilience elsewhere.
One strategy is to highlight the moral squalor of people who claim the moral high ground vis-Ã -vis the âdecadentâ West and its regional âclientsâ. The bin Laden family construction firm was chiefly responsible for the vulgar architectural modernisation of Saudi Arabia and made money from the deployment of US troops there in the 1990s. More effort should be put into exposing the criminal underpinnings of jihadism, including reliance on conflict diamonds, counterfeiting, drug-trafficking, fraud, robbery and so forth, not to speak of the prior records of fugitive British jihadist Rashid Rauf in an âhonour killingâ of his own uncle. The British government has still done virtually nothing to undermine the noble self-image of the jihadists in the eyes of those who are drawn to bin Laden as though to a fashionable anti-hero.
Puncturing myths is part of a broader US effort to break up terrorist organisations. The multi-ethnic composition of al-Qaâeda is one weak point, since rewards and risks seem to run along ethnic lines. The risks undertaken by Lebanese money-launderers handling conflict diamonds from West Africa are of a different order to those of a Moroccan suicide bomber. Interrogations of detainees reveal much bad blood between ethnic Chechens, Tajiks or Uzbeks and their Arab masters, who despise them. Al-Qaâedaâs bid for supremacy extends to its own cohorts. The organisationâs attempts to subsume local and regional jihadists are another strategic vulnerability, for there is little affection between Algerian and Libyan Islamists, whom al-Qaâeda seeks to co-opt with talk of a âunified Maghrebâ. Algerian Islamism is itself riven with factional disputes about whether to focus on fighting the regime of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, or whether to pursue al-Qaâedaâs anti-Western agenda, thereby incurring the wrath of America, which already has a huge CIA station in Algiers. Franchising leads to loss of central control of how the brand is used by franchisees â most notably by Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi in Iraq with his penchant for decapitation videos, a strategy that al-Qaâeda belatedly recognised as a PR disaster.
Another more insidious fracture has resulted from the well-publicised testimonies of repentant jihadists who have been through âde-programmingâ courses now operating in many Middle Eastern and South East Asian jails. This development has begun to concern such al-Qaâeda leaders as Abu-Yahya al-Libi, one of the few with theological training rather than a background in medicine or engineering. These schemes involve re-integrating former terrorists into their families, while giving them authoritative instruction in a religion most of them only know as a handful of banal slogans borrowed from the Islamist ideologue Sayyid Qutb. Eventually they are given a home and a job with which they can support a family.
A modest freelance version of this approach is being essayed here in Britain by the newly-minted Quilliam Foundation, launched in April, which seeks to use former extremists to deradicalise young Anglo-Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Its prescriptions are far tougher than anything the British government has yet tried â including interdicting all Saudi funding of mosques and Islamic studies programmes.
Giving âhopeâ to potential jihadist recruits in foreign countries should assume tangible forms: installing fresh water systems or building schools, as well as substantial practical assistance for the victims of such natural disasters as earthquakes or the Asian tsunami, which the leading Islamist cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-QaraÂdawi claimed was Godâs punishment of materialistic Indonesians and Malaysians. The combination of aid from the West, rehabilitation schemes and more aggressive counter-terrorism forces explains why South East Asian jihadism is in disarray. A positive message from the West is far more important than insistence that other peoples should precisely replicate our democratic systems â in the virtual absence, certainly in the Arab Middle East, of the wider civic society that took several centuries to evolve in the West itself.
The application of military force and diligent police work is indispensable to defeating the insurgency. It resembles the game of âwhack a moleâ, not least in requiring resilience from the participants. Capturing or killing the leadership of al-Qaâeda is essential to stalling its momentum. Readers will recall that after a bloody military conflict that resulted in the deaths of 70,000 Peruvian peasants, a small team of detectives in 1992 captured the Sendero Luminoso leader, Abimael Guzman, after they tracked couriers bearing an ointment he needed to treat his psoriasis. The movement further fractured when his successor Oscar Ramirez was picked up in 1999.
So where is Osama bin Laden? He is believed to be sheltering in the Pashtun-dominated Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. According to the expert Steve Coll, he is in or around the Taleban stronghold of Miram Shah. Al-Qaâeda is seeking to establish a terriÂtorial base akin to the one it enjoyed under the Afghan Taleban. The August 2006 Waziristan Accords between Pervez Musharraf and the local tribal elders disastrously facilitated this regrouping. Some claim that the fractiousness of these tribes means that al-Qaâeda has to constantly focus on squaring some of them rather than mounting major international terrorist operations. The central organisation is also running short of money, judging by its reported dependence on robbing European banks to replenish its coffers, or jihadists who launder money through online gaming sites with the aid of stolen credit cards.
The war in Afghanistan is an âeconomy of forceâ operation, partly because of US commitments in Iraq, partly because of Nato ânational caveatsâ, such as a Luftwaffe that refuses to fly at night, or Turkish troops which Ankara refuses to deploy in the south. With a light footprint, because of local political constraints, the US is using cross-border Predator drone missile attacks to complement the activities of thousands of Pakistani Frontier Corps in eliminating key al-Qaâeda figures. Fatalities have included Abu Laith al-Libi, hit by a US missile in January this year in north Waziristan, which checked his efforts to synchronise the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group with al-Qaâeda in the Maghreb. Unfortunately, billion-dollar aid packages, designed to win over Pashtun tribesmen, have stuck to the fingers of the Pakistani armed forces, who regard it as their reward for the sacrifice of some 700 dead. There has been more success across the Afghan border with the grassroots National Solidarity Programme, involving micro-reconstruction schemes that rely upon 80 per cent indigenous labour, and in building a national army that is now about 70,000 strong. Even so, in April the Taleban were still capable of mounting an assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai at a parade in Kabul.
Because of the multiple pressures jihadists have experienced in Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, al-Qaâeda has been consolidating its affiliates in Iraq or the Islamic Maghreb, while extending its operations to some of the vast sub-Saharan Sahel states from Mali and Mauritania eastwards to Somalia and Yemen. The pro-Islamist Yemeni government has been releasing al-Qaâeda operatives, including those who killed 17 US sailors on the USS Cole in 2000, and who then went on to launch further attacks on US interests, as well as Belgian and Spanish tourists. More tourists have been killed in Mauritania, which became unstable enough to warrant the cancellation of the Paris-Dakar rally. Two sets of police raids in Turkey, in January and April, which netted about 50 suspects, have shed light on al-Qaâedaâs attempts to build a parallel society there, reminiscent of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. The police discovered a network of underground mosques and a separate education system. As in Britain, potential terrorists went abroad for training.
One âjihadi regionâ where people receive training is, of course, Iraq. The occupation may have exacerbated the global insurgency, but it did not inaugurate activities that go back to the 1970s. They included Noor Mohammedâs jihadist revolt in Waziristan, and such apparently bizarre events as Juhaiman al-Otaibiâs invasion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979, before Islamism erupted in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Middle East and South Asia.
After three years of horrendous death tolls in Iraq, the US has succeeded in turning the âSunni Awakening Movementâ against the foreign al-Qaâeda-inspired jihadists, many of them from Libya or Saudi Arabia. Local people balked at such Islamist customs as breaking the fingers of smokers or shooting anyone selling alcohol. The Sunni counter-insurgents may not relish US occupation, but they like the jihadist reign of terror even less. Despite Britainâs embarrassing cession of control of Basra to rival militias, a similar Shiite tribal backlash has occurred against the Iranian-backed forces of Muqtada al-Sadr.
These developments reflect the success of the surge led by Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, who deployed five extra combat brigades to deny al-Qaâeda the outlying and suburban bases from which to mount attacks in city centres, before pursuing them in follow-up operations such as âPhantom Strikeâ. This set the conditions for a Shia-dominated government deploying its own troops to fight Shia militias. A measure of the surgeâs success, apart from dramatically reduced monthly death tolls, is the evidence from captured correspondence to the effect that recruitment of foreign jihadis has significantly fallen. Senior al-Qaâeda leaders have urged jihadists to curb the sectarian violence that has alienated so many ordinary Iraqis. A recent poll by ABC news reported that 59 per cent of Iraqis say their lives are âgoing wellâ while a striking 49 per cent say that the US was âright to invade Iraqâ.
No European country faces the global challenges confronting the US, which partly explains why only the US has developed the coherent range of responses outlined above. Because of its success in integrating Arab immigrants (many of whom are Christian refugees) the US largely faces an external threat. Europeans face one hatching among second or third generation North Africans, Bangladeshis or Pakistanis, not to speak of the indigenous converts whom al-Qaâeda is actively recruiting. They have included the Sauerland cell detained in Germany in 2007, as well as those rounded up in late April 2008 from the purlieus of the Multicultural House mosque in Ulm â an appropriately named monument to that disgraced ideology.
Little can be said to fault combined European counter-terrorist and intelligence efforts against jihadi terrorists. Each service brings different strengths to the table: for example, the Dutch AIVD is strong in understanding jihadist use of Internet chatrooms, while the French have been conspicuously robust in monitoring clerical subversion inside a fraction of Franceâs mosques. Despite the âcheese-eating surrender monkeysâ rhetoric, US intelligence fully recognises the achievements of French juges dâinstruction â one of the reasons that the European headquarters of CIA (and Mossad) counterterrorism efforts is in Paris. None of this has prevented the French from pursuing a highly nuanced diplomacy in the Middle East.
Weakness commences at a political level, largely because of the institutionalised effects of officially-decreed multiculturalism, and a failure to do much about the impact of population movements on the host culture and economy. The failure of European governments to get a grip on what are still relatively small Muslim minorities provokes exasperation in America.
Many of the 1.6 million Muslims living in Britain, for example, still do not seem to fully appreciate the outrage that a finger-jabbing minority causes at home and abroad with each escalating demand for Islamist enclaves. Like perennial students, New Labour favours debate and dialogue, except when it involves matters of overriding concern to ordinary people, in which case Trevor Phillips is left to stick his head above the parapet. In dealing with the Muslim Council of Britain, the British Government unwittingly accepted as âcommunÂityâ interlocutors men who, in line with salafi-jihadi propaganda, blamed Islamist terrorism primarily on British foreign policy, while failing to condemn unequivocally suicide bombing outside the UK. Virtually nothing is being done to stem the flow of Wahabist money (and the attendant intolerant ideology) not only into mosques but university âIslamic studiesâ programmes, whose ideologically-slanted nature has been exposed in a report published last month by the Centre for Social Cohesion. The author, Anthony Glees, argues that pro-free speech arguments (and there is little free speech at all when it comes to Israel) are being used by the authorities to slip out of public responsibility towards taxpayers.
But others with far greater power than academia are also complicit in this process. Did major banks think about the cultural implications of sharia-compliant finance, which is conspicuously absent in Egypt? This was allowed by Gordon Brown without triggering the public outrage that attended the Archbishop of Canterburyâs sly unclarities about sharia law. The police â in their capacity as the paramilitary wing of the Guardian â seem to be turning a blind eye to âhonour crimesâ and to the informal resort to sharia law, even when this involves manifestly criminal offences.
A robust response to the jihadist threat is also stymied by ideologue lawyers who have made a decent living out of defending terrorists; and by judges who, with honourable exceptions, seem to have greater allegiance to abstract notions of human rights than they do to the primary right of people in Britain not to be blown to pieces. Attempts to free the alleged al-Qaâeda leader in Europe, Abu Qatada, on the grounds that he might be tortured or convicted by torture-tainted testimony in Jordan, are a national disgrace. Judges have also recently undermined the governmentâs attempts to interdict terrorist financing â even in the case of a dangerous al-Qaâeda operative known for legal reasons as âGââ after having subverted the regime of control orders that was introduced at their behest after they themselves had released detainees from long-term custody in Belmarsh. Even the Royal Navy is reluctant to detain Somali pirates lest they claim asylum (and benefits) because their âhuman rightsâ might be infringed in Saudi Arabia, Somalia or Yemen.
Government attempts to sponsor British citizenship and values to counteract the multiculturalism propagated by a previous wave of state patronage seem tired and unconvincing. There seems little credibility behind requesting Muslims to âbecome usâ when that evidently implies to them a culture of considerable coarseness: binge-drinking, crime, drugs and chronic family breakdown. Why not try to insulate yourself within the various ghettos that Britain has complacently allowed to form, and which Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali says are becoming no-go areas for non-Muslims?
Politicians throughout Europe nowadays remind us that, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently remarked, âGermanyâs frontiers begin on the Hindu Kushâ. The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has also confirmed that 70 per cent of British terrorist plots have some link to Pakistan. But one has yet to hear a British politician of any stripe talk about what changes they wish to see in the Muslim world â for example in Saudi Arabia, to whom we sell arms in return for passively accepting their citizensâ funding of subversive religious activities here in Britain. By contrast, Nicolas Sarkozyâs imaginative plan to give North Africa (and Israel) EU associate status suggests that he has expanded his horizons since 9/11 and is not transposing the Cold War on to our relations with global Islam.
Anything that serves to strengthen more liberal Muslim voices in Indonesia or Turkey, vis-Ã -vis a Gulf world which many Arabs and North Africans themselves abominate, is worth encouraging. The Turkish ministry of religious affairs has boldly sought to conform the Hadith â the sayings attributed to the Prophet Mohammed on which so much of Islam depends â to life in the 21st century.
It may be that the dictators â the Assads, Bouteflikas, Mubaraks, Gaddafis and others â will cling on to power much longer than optimists may imagine. However, should that not happen, how will the West help those moderates who will find themselves in temporary oppositional coalitions with reformist elements of these regimes and the Islamists? For it is useful to remember that in 1992 some 300,000 people demonstrated in Algiers under the slogan âno to a police state, and no to rule by clericsâ. How do we ensure such a coalition does not go the way of the one that toppled the Shah of Iran, after which Khomeinites imprisoned or murdered their secular allies? If such forces fail to coalesce, how will the West persuade regimes which restrict oil and gas profits to narrow elites to reinvest them in developments that might benefit the unemployed young of these countries? The alternative of turning a blind eye to rampant corruption, while such regimes exploit the war on terror to crush democratic opponents as well as fundamentalist protest voters, is morally untenable.
We began with a US Senate committee confronting unthinkable horrors. Our policy-makers apparently prefer to focus on the conceit of exporting Northern Irelandâs idiosyncratic model of âconflict resolutionâ as far away as Sri Lanka. This smacks of a last spasm of self-congratulatory post-imperial hubris, or âpunching above our weightâ. How strange for Des Browne or Jonathan Powell to be talking about dialogue with Hamas, Hezbollah â with whom the British are not at war â and the Taleban (or in Powellâs case even al-Qaâeda) when we canât even get on top of a local difficulty with Anglo-Pakistanis that threatens the lives of passengers flying to or from British airports.
The one British politician who grasps the need to be as frank as our American (or Australian) cousins about the threat from terrorists âwho are actively plotting indiscriminate slaughter on a massive scaleâ is not the Prime Minister, who appears to be nostalgic for the globalising vapidities that thrill Davos seminars, but the Leader of the Opposition. David Cameron has a strong team behind him: David Davis, Paul Goodman, Michael Gove, Gerald Howarth and Baroness Neville-Jones.
David Cameron both understands the existential threat from Âjihadism and has comprehensive ideas about how to combat it which will link foreign, defence and security policies. He is fully conscious of the need to balance ancient liberties with the right to stay alive. Like the US, Britain needs a dedicated border police and defences against terrorism that commence at the stage when someone Âpurchases an air ticket. His plans also include dismantling the Âbureaucratic residue of state multiculturalism so that councils do not end up funding fronts of the Muslim Brotherhood. The banning of Hizb ut-Tahrir which, as renegade members have amply testified, functions as a conveyor-belt to extremism, and the deportation of foreign agitators also figure on Cameronâs programme. Any appeal they might mount should take place after they have already been Âdeported. They can pay for their own human rights lawyers. Cameron plans to replace the European Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.
What we await are his ideas for a new set of relationships with those populous parts of the wider Muslim world that do not suffer from the same grim pathologies as Arabia. During King Abdullahâs recent visit to Britain, Cameron reminded the Saudis of their obligations to our security. Cosy chats about horses and oil with a handful of Gulf oil sheikhs, while neglecting Egypt, Indonesia or Turkey, are no longer enough in the post-9/11 world. A more imaginative approach to the wider Muslim world should go together with a much clearer statement of what the domestic majority are or are not prepared to tolerate and with an implacable determination to defeat terrorism. That is the difference between a proper strategy and the present governmentâs alternation of appeasement with knee-jerk Âauthoritarianism.