Wednesday, July 25, 2007

So, You Want to Join al-Qaeda?

George Wittman at the American Spectator gives a concise description of the stages each recruit must pass and the training received. "It might be a surprise to most people to realize how little training it takes to be a terrorist." Here's the first hurdle ...



When recruiting individuals for al Qaeda-type terrorist jobs, the first requirement is to be able to pass the clearance tests. Recommendations from acceptable imams are the best way to get through the door. Similarly, known and trusted mujaheddin references are always useful. It is true, however, that the vetting process continues during the entire training period through to the final operational stage. There is an overarching need to avoid penetration by "crusader" security services and their apostate agents. ...

Having successfully gone through the initial vetting period, the second stage could involve a trip from Pakistan to the border areas of the Baujur region and Waziristan for field training -- but not necessarily. The truth is that in practice local volunteers in target countries often never leave their home environment and merely receive limited training within their cell group. ...

A technically competent recruit with special access or potential access to a high value target also might never go for field training. Such a candidate, perhaps already living or studying in a target country, might be introduced into an established cell. Special recruits such as these might even remain "singletons," as national intelligence agencies call agents who operate alone. In the case of al Qaeda, a recruit already ensconced in a key position of access -- such as a security or police official -- might be protected from compromise by remaining totally outside any cell structure....

Put yourself in Zawahiri's place. How do you maintain ideological and operational control over a force like this? What is the procedure for sending acks and nacks to see if your forces are in place? Wouldn't a network like this tend to degrade over time and isn't there an incentive to use a recruit immediately, either to expend him or test his mettle and move him into a closer position in the organization?

Put yourself in the recruit's place. Now that you are badged al-Qaeda, how do you communicate with higher authority if you are displeased with your local sponsoring organizaiton? Can you communicate with higher headquarters? Suppose you receive an operational order that you believe to be ill-advised? Can you retire from the fray?

Just thinking.

22 Comments:

Blogger Curtis said...

This is absolute hogwash. "We are such a great organization because we have no organization."

7/25/2007 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Smitten Eagle said...

Indeed. I think al Qaeda as a whole is better undstood in terms of a movement rather than an organization. They are more like the Animal Liberation Front than the Communist Party USA.

One of the advantages of such an organization is the ability to withdraw moral support from subordinate cells without damaging the movement as a whole. Recall Zawahiri's letter to Zarqawi in the wake of his beheadings. Even Zawahiri thought those were outragous. Yet Zawahiri can pontificate and opine from his cave without his, or al Qaeda's credability questioned.

Likewise, homegrown cells of al Qaeda in Western countries can claim ideological masters in al Qaeda, but the AQ leadership has plausable deniability. And the cells don't even have to be in Western countries! Note how the US congress twists itself into believing that AQ and AQ in Mesopotamia are two seperate entities.

A new way of thinking is clearly called for. This baby boomer generation has to go so people who have an understanding of networked movements can come to the fore and continue the fight where the boomers failed.

7/25/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I think it's an organization of a sort, and an although its been described as a "networked insurgency", al-Qaeda's real organizational model actually be more ancient. Apart from the addition of weapons and technical training, the Jihad looks very much like a new religion in its "apostolic age". (I don't mean to morally compare the Apostles to al-Qaeda, but simply to refer to the first explosive impetus associated with a new creed.)

And after a while, the chief problem explosively expanding religions face is schism and the emergence of rival churches within what was once one fold. If you look at the agenda of the Council of Nicaea, by which time the Early Church had expanded vastly many concerns had to do with contemperaneous divisions, few of which we remember today. But at the time the problem was real.

1. The Arian question;
2. The celebration of Passover;
3. The Meletian schism;
4. The Father and Son one in purpose or in person;
5. The baptism of heretics;
6. The status of the lapsed in the persecution under Licinius.


And just as Christianity reached the point of making itself distinct from Judaism, radical Islam may be in the process of decisively distinguishing itself from and taking over from that other creed of the 20th century, Marxism, as the prime revolutionary ideology of the 21st century. But along the way it may not only fracture with the Reds, but form fissures within its own internal structure.

That's why the effects of counterorganizing in Iraq and by the privateers on the Internet may have a far greater impact on al-Qaeda than one would suspect. Even if the info-warriors can't destroy Osama in his Pakistani hide out, every dissident Islamic movement, every group that challenges the supremacy of the men in Pakistan, etc increases the problem of holding together al-Qaeda.

That might actually be bad news. But I have to think about it some.

7/25/2007 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

It is bad news Wretchard for this reason:

Only horrible brute force directed at all Muslims indiscriminately can deter mass casualty attacks on US cities.

Think about it: even if a "deal" could be reached with Zawahiri and/or bin Laden (assuming he's not dead) the problem of a distributed network going it's own way remains. What about people in Pakistan doing their own thing, or Iran, and so forth?

Only the threat of such massive retaliation that no group/schismatic organization would not be utterly destroyed in the US response can deter such attacks. Yes it's very bad.

7/25/2007 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

whiskey:

Only horrible brute force directed at all Muslims indiscriminately can deter mass casualty attacks on US cities.

Like what happened during the First and Second Jewish Wars?

7/25/2007 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

It's possible, yes Alex.

The central problem: how to deter many distributed actors with no central command and control from nuking American cities?

We will very likely get to that point after we lose a few, and make decisions then on the fly. It's *possible* that we could both withdraw from Iraq and pre-emptively nuke Waziristan, Pakistan's nukes, and Iran's nuke facilities to instill the base fear required among everyone. But it's clear no one really fears the American Street.

7/25/2007 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

If Wretchards conjecture is correct, the counter would be to introduce mutant memes into the network. These mutants, like the heresies of 4th century Christianity would lead to schism and infighting.

7/25/2007 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

fat man:

If Wretchards conjecture is correct, the counter would be to introduce mutant memes into the network. These mutants, like the heresies of 4th century Christianity would lead to schism and infighting.

That won't necessarily bother our enemies. Islam underwent a nasty schism in the first century after Mohammed died; it didn't keep Muslim forces from conquering half of the Mediterranean basin and all of the Persian Empire. Western Christianity underwent a horrific schism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that has not healed yet; this schism did not keep Christian powers from conquering most of the planet.

I doubt that introducing ideological mutations into the enemy's thought processes will negatively affect his capacity to harm us. If anything, it is a religion's propensity for internal strife that fuels its appetite for expansion. A religion at peace and without ideological strife is a religion that stagnates and becomes boring and insipid. People do not become attracted to a religion despite the evil it perpetrates; people become attracted to religion because of the evil it perpetrates. The more diabolical the actions of a religion, the more charisma it will appear to have.

7/25/2007 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger lgude said...

I'm not so sure it necessarily bad news. I think such divisions as Wretchard indicates will arise naturally and weaken the movement. I'm not denying it couldn't end in a nuclear disaster, just saying that extreme belief systems tend to dissipate over the generations. Fanatics may think they will will win because they love death more than life, but that is contrary to nature and will only be maintained if they can show each rising generation of young Muslims that their approach is working. I think the great majority of Muslims will regain their balance and ultimately recognize the ungodliness of the zealots among them. I understand that there are structural problems within Islam that are preventing it from easily separating from the unbalanced ideological version of Islam that has gone on a campaign of jihad. It will take some time for a community caught in an ideological cul de sac to regress to the mean of normal human behavior. But the extremists are their own worst enemy. Remember that both Shiite and Sunni radicals think the others are apostate and should be slaughtered. To use a technical term, they're nuts, and and over time their Muslim brothers will realize it just as the Anbar tribesmen have realized it.

7/26/2007 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger ADE said...

There is no Al Qaeda, just as there was no voodoo spirit behind the flame.

There's just a bunch of overly (oil) wealthy Arabs, bored to the point that motivating the most backward culture on the planet relieves their sense of inferiority.

I think we attribute way too much to a bunch of wealthy thugs who are on the (ego) make with the oldest trick in the book - shakedown, only now they've globalised it.

And big-dealing themselves to the local illiterates.

ADE

7/26/2007 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

From what I've read in the on-line Middle East newspapers (i.e., ArabNews and GulfNews), Saudi "recruits" for jihad just get on a plane, land in Syria, and hook up with the first swarthy-looking Bad Guy they see, whereupon they are directed to see So&So on the first street corner on their left. They then get on a bus or some form of conveyance and are helped to trek into Iraq.

There doesn't seem to be any recruitment process, vetting would be confined to determining that yes, indeed, the person is Saudi youth with the IQ of a sand flea, and their job assignment is usually a swift a brutal one like driver for a car bomb. There are also reports that drivers for car bombs are (1) not told that they will actually be in the car when it explodes, or (2) they are strapped in with duct tape so they can't chicken out and escape.

I don't know that these Saudi youth necessarily want to offer themselves up for membership in Al-Queda, as much as they think the idea of "jihad" is really cool, and they want to play that game. Especially if it means they get to shoot at Americans. When they're in the process of leaving Riyadh, of course they think they'll be heroic and trained terrorists, shooting at Americans; it never seems to occur to them at their fate in life and death will be and explosive and grisly one, step slower than a robot.

7/26/2007 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Al Qaeda, or Al Qaedism if you will, is not a schism from Islam - it is Islam according to the Koran and the biographies. There never was the equivalent of a Council of Nicea for Islam. The Koran and the biographies were not actually written until more than 200 years after Mohamed's death, and then most likely in Baghdad, not Arabia. The biggest reason is that the Koran is considered immutable and already answers every question that any human being could ever ask. Why would you need a conference?

Individual Muslims can have civilized value systems but they sure don't get them from their religion. Islam is outside the Tao. A curse on humanity.

7/26/2007 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

NahnCee said...

"From what I've read in the on-line Middle East newspapers (i.e., ArabNews and GulfNews), Saudi "recruits" for jihad just get on a plane, land in Syria, and hook up with the first swarthy-looking Bad Guy they see, whereupon they are directed to see So&So on the first street corner on their left. They then get on a bus or some form of conveyance and are helped to trek into Iraq."

I suspect this is true. Our task is to arrange for that first swarthy-looking Bad Guy in Syria to be a CIA operative. The hapless jihadii wannabe is then sluiced into a meat grinder in Iraq where he is disposed of harmlessly and quietly.

7/26/2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger I. Melvin said...

Islam has some weeds in its' garden. Only Islam can purge these weeds - we will never be able to do it for them (nor should we be expected to).

If Islam refuses to purge these weeds and they begin to creep into our garden and strangle our hard-earned plantings we will have no choice but to significantly defoliate their garden indiscriminately.

Or, of course, succumb to the weeds.

7/26/2007 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Herman Richard Matern said...

"The more diabolical a religion is...?" The genius of the Christian faith has always been an appeal to the better angels of ourselves. Irenaeus sent 2 very peaceful tailors up into central Gaul to evangelize it. The eighty some year old Polycarp walking to Rome to be crucified preaching everywhere that God would save them.. do NOT resist the authority of Rome. Patrick disobeying the authority of the bishops to begin his own evangelization of Ireland in retaliation oh so peacefully for his former enslavement there. Nestor going to China as a missionary of peace, and immortalized there today by the fastest growing religious enterprise in the world of our day... the evangelization of China... by patriotic Christian Chinese citizens who support the foundations of their government there significantly moreso than the average citizenry... just another way of doing their best to bring the eternal peace of Christ to their nation. The efforts of Raymond Lull preaching in Tunis that thru love Islam can be conquered rather than thru Crusades even tho they were an attemnpt to rescue the church in the Holy Land. The efforts of Mother Theresa, Albert Schweitzer, David Livingstone, Ida Scudder - these heroes of the Cross of our own times are/were "diabolical"??? What is rotting the brains of the know- nothings who can pen such nonsense?

I am used to hearing about N. Ireland, the American Indians, the slaves of the south... But the everlasting efforts of the Quakers since the first day Congress opened, the firm beliefs and championing of the American Indians by those their Spanish champions both in government and among the Franciscans who spoke to emperors that the Christian voice, when it is Christian speaks only by love, or not at all. The wholeheartedly Christian efforts of Wilberforce. Francis Xavier in Japan. The Lutheran missionaries to Sumatra who abolished cannibalism there - after they had been eaten themselves, to the everlasting regret of the hearers of their gospel. The Christian Gospel grows in India when Christian missionaries are forced into their automobiles and burned alive, in Nepal when they make it a crime to be baptized and to receive the joy of the forgiveness of sins. We are speaking about the religion itself and not about some silly idea of a "Christian religious culture" amd the vapid pronouncements of those who don't understand it, think they live in it and so readily denounce it.

This is the difference and this will be the origins of the renewal of the Christian faith in Iraq (by most likely Chinese missionaries with their Back to Jerusalem movement) and is the same reason for so many Al Qaeda footsoldiers renouncing Al Qaeda right now and seeking to join now the police and army or "provincial police units" to fight it (as per the London Times). It is a resurgence of conscience and when it is bad (as in "a bad conscience") people will go thru hell and high water to turn it aright. This is growing, and the reaction, I will wager, will grow into a tremendous one, reforming Islam and raising once again the comfort, the joy, the goodness and the glory of the Christian message in the Islamic world. This has been the course of history and the course of mankind. Watch.

7/26/2007 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Crazy Marzouq Redneck Muslim said...

Dr. Matern,

Very good 4GW Christian post. I commend you.

Denizens of Belmont Club,

Compared to Hezbollah, alQueda is a bunch of amateurs.

Salaam eleikum now, Y'hear?

7/26/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Curtis said...

al Qaeda is more a death cult than a religion. It breeds in power vacuums where existing social order is degraded or impotent. It also needs to be financed well. We've allowed those conditions in Iraq for too long. Pakistan has as well.

Read the statements of the Sunnis who are turning against them. "They aren't muslim." They compare them more to organized crime.

7/26/2007 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

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7/26/2007 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

---And just as Christianity reached the point of making itself distinct from Judaism, radical Islam may be in the process of decisively distinguishing itself from and taking over from that other creed of the 20th century, Marxism, as the prime revolutionary ideology of the 21st century. But along the way it may not only fracture with the Reds, but form fissures within its own internal structure.


Well, this is interesting, as Muhammed's initial revelations all came to him while surrounded by, and influenced by, a variety of these heresies related to Christianity. His understanding of his visions was based strongly on those heresies, and his definitions of why the Jews and Christians are theologically wrong came from those heresies, too.

I don't think I really want to see what the next prophet in the Mideast comes up with when he's swimming in a sea of various versions of radical Islams.

re: your larger point,
The more the fracturing occurs, though, the more we are left with an enemy we can only identify by their list of acceptable means to ends, and of course, ideology.

You can remove a malignant cancer, because the body went wrong somewhere to make that cancer. or you can use chemo, and kill a bunch of good cells along with the bad. That's different than when you try to fight an infection with overused antibiotics, and induce dozens of mutations so that your antidote no longer functions.

Are these ideologies infections? We keep acting as if they are a malignancy inside a (somewhat healthy?) organism. But maybe this epidemiological argument really doesn't apply after all.

7/26/2007 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Herman Matern - "The more diabolical a religion is...?" The genius of the Christian faith has always been an appeal to the better angels of ourselves.

Not true. Turn the other cheek pabulum chewing Christians were dispatched like faggot sheep by Islamic warriors. And lost all of N Africa, the ME, and Andalusia in the process. It was only Byzantines defense by non-faggot Christians of steel and Charles Martel not listening to "better pacifist angels" that stopped the Ummah from owning all of Europe and Russia.

Mark me as one who was disgusted watching a senile Polish Pope wash the feet of infidel-loathing Muslims on his 1999 Pilgrimidge in a way he refused to honor Nazis. with blowjobs - or lick boots of Commies.

The Lutheran missionaries to Sumatra who abolished cannibalism there - after they had been eaten themselves
It wasn't Christian milksops that reversed the Islamoid cannibals - it was British and Royal Dutch Marines that came in and killed whole villages if they ate easy Christian prey that eventually dissuaded the Islamoid cannibals. A message of "enjoy your feast, then watch a Marine spit all your children on a bayonet as your village burns" - strongly discouraged dining on weak pacifists, and only the courage and steel of soldiers kept them in the missionary biz..."
**********************

7/26/2007 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

"Put yourself in Zawahiri's place. How do you maintain ideological and operational control over a force like this?"

Al Zawahiri is not in control of the ideology - that is seen to by the "acceptable Imams". The Imams get to pick and choose their favoured operators and the teachings of the imam form the basis of continued involvement. The function of Al Qaeda is to provide a suitable outlet for the Imams' teachings with Al Qaeda subservient to the teachings of the mosque.

7/26/2007 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Crazy Marzouq Redneck Muslim said...

Cedarford,

Drat! Foiled again! Almost had the Lutheran suckered in!

Your rebuttal is most excellent!

As far as I can discern both sides of the "argument" are based on facts that are "irrefutable". Seems to me that both components are needed for success.

I like the idea of an Armed Peace Corps. Isn't this really what the Western Military is becoming?

This is why I like Smitten Eagle's thesis in his blog about bringing back the draft.

Salaam eleikum.

7/27/2007 11:30:00 AM  

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