The Fourth Mutation
The Spectator reports that Al Qaeda has metamorphosed at least 4 times to cope with US challenges. But its last evolution may be the most alarming.
Over its nearly two-decade career, al Qaeda has proved highly adaptable, changing its modus operandi no fewer than four times since its attacks commenced in the early '90s. Indeed, the terrorists are now finding it necessary to change their operational model after every significant attack. ...
In 1996 a British gent named Babar Ahmad pioneered al Qaeda Online (a lovely site that showed beheadings, kidnapped victims' pleas and served as a fundraising mechanism for terror groups) from his comfy office at Imperial College in London. (My, terrorists do seem to have a strong affinity for Western universities.) U.S. prosecutors say they can link Ahmad to the Taliban and Shamil Basayev, the Chechen terrorist behind the Beslan school attack. He has since run for a seat in the British parliament, and, from behind the walls of a British prison, established another website to spread his anti-American tosh, while he fights extradition to the U.S.
Today's Al Qaedahas turned from employing sleepers and foreign students to recruiting young, homegrown, locally radicalized Muslims, as in the London bombings, and the Egyptian and Saudi Arabia attacks. "Previously, such a feat could only have been accomplished by the core al Qaeda organization," the report notes. "For a grassroots network to accomplish that feat, without direct involvement from the central leadership, would represent a generational leap forward in jihadist operations."
Coincidentally Pamela at Atlas Shrugs links to a news story about a random act of violence in Baltimore.
In what police described as a random attack, Paul Schrum, a 62-year-old medical supplies salesman from Pikesville, was shot dead while watching a movie at Loews Valley Center 9 in Owings Mills. About 20 minutes into the film, police said, the gunman stood, told everyone to get on the floor and fired four shots. The man then walked to the lobby, placed a handgun containing one unspent round on a counter and told theater management that he had shot someone. He waited for police to arrive. ...
The suspect is a 24-year-old man, a 2000 graduate of Mount Hebron High School in Howard County and a 2005 graduate of Loyola College, where he majored in biology. Mujtaba Rabbani Jabbar's family home is a house valued at more than $1 million in one of Baltimore County's most affluent neighborhoods. ... Jabbar's address is in Anton North, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Baltimore County, with million-dollar mansions hidden by trees and at the end of long, twisting driveways. A list of residents includes such Baltimore business names as Frankel and Luskin, and former Blue Cross/Blue Shield Chief Executive William L. Jews.
It probably really is a coincidence though the immortal words written at the Ace of Spades come to mind. "As police say when a man with a mistress winds up finding his wife "accidentally" drowned in the pool: No one gets that lucky." But if the Spectator is correct, the next time it won't be just happenstance. There may be enough hate lying around in the West to forge committed Jihadis even in say, Marin County, feats which previously required training camps in places like Afghanistan. Gates of Vienna and the Politics of CP have reported on the possible presence of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra in rural Virginia. And as the Spectator notes "My, terrorists do seem to have a strong affinity for Western universities."
A viable system of Jihadi force-generation within the West would have the effect of shifting the battlespace away from South Asia, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa and into mainstreet USA. It will have the further effect of shifting the mode of combat away from military operations to cultural, religious and political warfare. The Washington Post almost accidentally destroyed the Vietnam metaphor singlehandedly by noting that the number of airstrikes in support of military operations in Iraq was so low that it actually amounted to half the air support provided in Afghanistan.
US military airstrikes in Afghanistan outnumber those in Iraq By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post | June 18, 2006
WASHINGTON -- As fighting in Afghanistan has intensified over the past three months, the US military has conducted 340 airstrikes there, more than twice the 160 carried out in the higher-profile war in Iraq, according to data from the Central Command, the US military headquarters for the Middle East.
Iraq is no doubt a war, but it's a different war from what it is imagined to be. One of these days the MSM is going to discover that neither OIF nor the War on Terror bears any but the most passing resemblance to Vietnam. That occurred on a different continent, against another enemy over another ideology with a different type of warfare and in another century. Once an aging generation stops looking for napalm, punji sticks, carpet bombing, air strikes and helicopters in the headlines they may realize that this war is being fought with propaganda, networks, educational systems, religion and nerve gas anywhere and everywhere. In word, it is being fought on a basis that the Western mind is not prepared to contemplate.
Time recently reported:
Al-Qaeda terrorists came within 45 days of attacking the New York subway system with a lethal gas similar to that used in Nazi death camps. They were stopped not by any intelligence breakthrough, but by an order from Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahiri. And the U.S. learned of the plot from a CIA mole inside al-Qaeda. These are some of the more startling revelations by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, whose new book The One Percent Doctrine is excerpted in the forthcoming issue of TIME. It will appear on Time.com early Sunday morning.
It's nice to know that New York City was spared only by the generosity of Ayman Zawahiri and that the US has a mole inside al-Qaeda. It's not everyday you read an article that you want to both believe and disbelieve. But anyway it's only an article about information, news, perception, intelligence sources and nerve gas. Nothing to do with real warfare. Like airstrikes. Nothing at all.