The Cancer Ward
Donald Sensing writing in Winds of Change, compares Islamic terrorism to a virus.
We need to understand how the terrorists operate and sustain themselves. Al Qaeda is not like any enemy we have ever faced and therefore our national responses will be unlike any we have ever given. While Al Qaeda is obviously capable of great violence, it may be likened to a virus that has already infected the world's systems of commerce, travel, finances, politics and communications.
Extending the metaphor of the world as a body afflicted by a virus, consider its circulatory system: world trade. The Singapore Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies describes why ports like Singapore and choke points like the Straits of Malacca have become targets for terrorism.
Containerization has made it possible for the carriers to shift from a port-to-port focus to a door-to-door focus. This process has also benefited from 'intermodalism', or the interchangeability of the various modes of transporting the container by road, sea or rail. Intermodalism has made it possible for goods to move from the point of production, without being opened, until they reach the point of sale or final destination.
No more perfect way to transport bombs, propaganda and weapons to any point on earth can surpass the unmindful creations of the kuffar. In consequence, the Singaporean Navy has invested in sophisticated port scanning devices, radiological detectors and even created Accompanying Sea Security Teams, armed naval personnel who "ride shotgun" on merchant vessels transiting the Straits of Malacca. Not just transportation hubs, but centers of finance and mass media have also proved irresistible draws for Jihadis. Consider Londonistan.
Londonistan is a pejorative sobriquet referring to the British capital of London, used by French counter-terrorism agents since the late 1990s, owing to the number of exiled Islamist groups that established political headquarters in the city, and from where they sought to overthrow governments they considered oppressive or heretical, as well as planning terror attacks on other European countries.
Britain's attractions for Islamist dissidents included its tradition of granting asylum to victims of political repression and commitment to freedom of speech. London itself had a reputation as the centre of the Arab press corp, with leading newspapers such as Al Hayat and Al Quds al Arabi published in the city. Relatively unimpeded by the British authorities, the British capital became the international headquarters for such Islamic groups as Takfir-wal-Hijra, Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia headed by the controversial Sa'ad Al-Faqih, Bahrain Freedom Movement and Algerian Armed Islamic Group.
The interesting thing about these examples is that they stand conventional wisdom completely on its head. London in the 1990s was the complete antithesis of Iraq. The Straits of Malacca was nothing but a sea corridor, with Muslim-majority countries, Malaysia and Indonesia, on both sides. Yet both London and the transportation arteries of the Malay barrier were or subsequently became terror targets purely because of their value to the malignancy. The process is similar to angiogenesis in cancer, where a tumor takes over control of the body's ability to produce blood vessels for the sole purpose of nourishing itself. One way doctors spot tumors is by finding unusual concentrations of blood vessels feeding the growing malignancy. Sensing's comparison of Islamic terrorism to a virus, if correct, makes a nonsense of claims that that Islamic militants are infiltrating the West in retaliation for Iraq or even the supposed provocations of Israel. The infiltration is occuring for entirely independent reasons: to provide nutrients for the malignancy or to turn ordinary systems to their purposes.
If the comparison to of Islamic terrorism to disease had any validity, one would expect to see a growing use of the world's own "healthy" systems for the pathogenic purposes. And we do: for example, what would normally be regarded as a mode of transportation, such as a widebodied airplane, Islamic terrorism sees as a bomb. Things will be observed in continuous inversion: pharmaceutical industries being developed in order to create a chemical and biological warfare capacity; countries without any civilian nuclear power industry embarked on frantic centrifuge manufacturing programs; a horde of students studying engineering, chemistry and computer science in the West who have no intention whatsoever of building a bridge, developing a detergent or writing an entertainment game. There would be a large demand for handheld ratios, not for talking but for use as bomb triggers; video cameras to record beheadings etc. Consequently, in reverse of expectations, the more material one provides to the disease -- Islamic terrorism by analogy -- the less ameliorative its effects. Welfare benefits would be received, not with gratitude but to fund militancy; council housing used to host bomb factories; UN relief grants used to pay for Hamas banners that say "Gaza Today. The West Bank and Jerusalem Tomorrow". A story from the Guardian, for example, describes how insurgents in Haditha have put this principle into practice.
In Haditha hospital staff and teachers are allowed to collect government salaries in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, but other civil servants have had to quit. Last year the US trumpeted its rehabilitation of a nearby power plant: "The incredible progress at Haditha is just one example of the huge strides made by the US Army Corps of Engineers." Now insurgents earn praise from residents for allegedly pressuring managers to supply electricity almost 24 hours a day, a luxury denied the rest of Iraq. ... DVDs of the beheadings on the bridge are distributed free in the souk. Children seem to prefer them to cartoons. "They should not watch such things," said one grandfather, but parents appeared not to object. One DVD features a young, blond muscular man who had been disembowelled. He was said to have been a member of a six-strong US sniper team ambushed on Aug. 1. Residents said he had been paraded in town before being executed. The US military denied that, saying six bodies were recovered and that all appeared to have died in combat. Shortly after the ambush three landmines killed 14 Marines in a convoy which ventured from their base outside the town.
Donald Sensing quoted some advice in his Winds of Change post, "standard counterterrorism responses, such as improving intelligence sharing and law enforcement cooperation, are indispensable but insufficient. Likewise, military force is sometimes required, but it cannot be the primary response." Why? Because like viral infections and cancer, Islamic terrorism is fundamentally a condition of malignant information. One of the most far-reaching benefits to Al Qaedaism of its alliance with the Left is how easily it allowed it to move astride the media, the academe and the liberal religious establishment. The information disease infiltrating the information stream of its victim. Not only does this feed Islamic militancy, in a process analogous to angiogenesis, it also puts its core code, which contains the instructions to reproduce and destroy, beyond the reach of counter-information under the banner of political correctness. Truly the perfect storm.