Friday, April 18, 2008

Dire straits

Is al-Qaeda running out of money?

Matthew Levitt, writing in the West Point counterterrorism review, Sentinel, notes that donations to al-Qaeda ain't what they used to be.

Speaking before congress in February, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Michael McConnell commented that during the previous 12-18 months the intelligence community noticed that “al Qaeda has had difficulty in raising funds and sustaining themselves.” In early April, Undersecretary of the Treasury Stuart Levey echoed the DNI’s assessment, adding that the government’s efforts to combat terrorist financing “are more integrated than ever before” and have enabled the government to disrupt or deter some sources of al-Qa`ida financing and make “significant progress mapping terrorist networks.” A Philippine military official, for example, recently disclosed that lack of funding was a major factor hindering the al-Qa`ida-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group from carrying out major attacks, the last of which was conducted in 2005.

The question is why. And the answers are several.

Three straightforward reasons for al-Qaeda's financial decline are the crackdown on "charitable" organization, pressure on major individual donors and the disruption of their networks.

The reverse directional flow of funds appears to support the assessment that the al-Qa`ida leadership is increasingly unable to fund itself. Indeed, anecdotal evidence that has come to light sporadically during the past few years suggests that the al-Qa`ida leadership has been impecunious for some time. In his July 2005 letter to Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi, Ayman al-Zawahiri humbly asked the leader of al-Qa`ida in Iraq if he could spare “a payment of approximately one hundred thousand” because “many of the lines have been cut off.” Similarly, in May 2007, al-Qa`ida leader in Afghanistan Shaykh Sa`id Mustafa Abu’l-Yazid highlighted the group’s desperate need for funds.

Would al-Qaeda have been reduced to dire straits if their attacks had continued, unanswered, across the world? Would their donation base have dried up unless it was being effectively targeted? Would it's coffers not be more full if it was indeed, as has often been alleged, it is "winning" not only in Iraq but all over the world?

Perhaps the simple truth is that al-Qaeda is losing supporters because the average supporter realizes it is losing. People tend to put their money where their mind is. Perhaps one of the reason al-Qaeda is mustering for a new round of spectacular attacks in Iraq (for which the Coalition is prepared) is because they need to put on a show. Only one thing is certain: there will be no shortage of coverage for their despicable attempts. Yet despite the ample coverage of the past they have declined. And despite the ample coverage in the future, they may decline some more.




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23 Comments:

Blogger whiskey_199 said...

The funding for AQ might be considerably higher if say, DC were nuked. I would not put it out of the question, given the shaky control over Pakistan's nukes the Musharraf government has. Or perhaps Iran will lend them a gun-type bomb. No need to test that one. Oppenheimer did not bother. All you really need is some HEU. Dirt simple once you have it.

Iraq is a hard target. The DC Mall? That's another question. Particularly if both President Bush and VP Cheney are at the WH.

I hate to say it, but I am very worried about John McCain. Obama and Hillary have leftist human shields. But Leftist crazies and AQ terrorists would love to target McCain. His lack of SS protective detail worries me greatly. Never has so much hinged on one man. All the assassinations of US Presidents have been from Leftist crazies.

4/18/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

IMHO it could not hurt to offer a prayer for the safety of all the Presidential Candidates.

4/18/2008 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Last I heard, he decided to ask for protection.
---
Michael Yon was on Dennis Miller:
Explaining Deuce Four's outsized intelligence assets, he said it resulted in taking out large segments of Al Q's leadership.
Dittos when Anbar's residents turned.
Says the old grey group ain't what it used to be.

4/18/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Here's my guess. Al-Qaeda runs out of money and weakens when you fight it. It strengthens when you don't its attacks. For example, not fighting it in the 1990s allowed it to reach the strength where it could attack Manhattan and Washington. Incidentally, it was also attacking across Central Asia, which was why the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, composed of China, Russia and the Central Asian 'stans, was formed.

You fight it weakens. You don't fight, it strengthens. Anybody who knows how extortion works knows how al-Qaeda works.

Which is why I wonder why so many "sophisticated" thinkers believe that if we merely pay political Islam off; treat them as reverend and shame and debase ourselves it will somehow "weaken". Suppose you were facing Al Capone? Would you recommend this course of action? How much worse than Capone is Bin Laden.

And yet we are told inaction is the way forward. Abasement is the prefrred route. That's a recipe for defeat.

4/18/2008 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Donald Sensing said...

John Wilkes Booth was a Leftist?

4/18/2008 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Whiskey_199: The funding for AQ might be considerably higher if say, DC were nuked. I would not put it out of the question, given the shaky control over Pakistan's nukes the Musharraf government has.

Too late, Musharraf has lost almost all control of Pakistan. Senator Biden and the State Department loves it, Bush hates it:

"Each day Musharraf's influence becomes less and less. Civilians are in control. People aren't meeting with Musharraf any more ... we are very pleased with the new civilian government."

4/18/2008 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Donald Sensing: John Wilkes Booth was a Leftist?

Yeah, those whacked out 1860s' Lefties hated how Lincoln freed the blacks from their chains and made them citizens. "Wow, bummer, man. State's rights, man!"

4/18/2008 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I suppose you could make the argument that Booth was not leftist, but he certainly hated: America, the Union, northern working people, equality under the law, and felt that Lincoln was a tyrant who deserved to die. You could put word for word Booth's words about Lincoln with Daily Kos about GWB. Just replace Lincoln with Bush and they'd sound the same.

As for Garfield's (Anarchist), McKinley's (Anarchist), FDR's (would-be-assassin), Huey Long's, Truman's (would be Puerto Rican Terrorist Leftist Assassins), JFK's (Lee Harvey Oswald was a Communist), RFK's (Sirhan Sirhan a Marxist PLO supporter incensed over Bobby's support for Israel), Ford's would be assassins (the Manson lunatics), all Leftists.

The lone right-wing assassin would be James Earl Ray, Dr. King's assassin.

Arthur Bremer (George Wallace's would-be assassin) and Mark David Chapman (Lennon's assassin) and John Hinkley (Reagan's would be assassin) were simple nutcases.

So that's: John Wilkes Booth, perhaps un-characterizable.

Un-characterizable: 1.
Leftists: 8.
Right:1.
Nutcase: 3.

Evidence shows that out of 13 attempts, 8 of 13 or 61% were Leftist. 1 out of 13, or 7% were rightist. 1 out of 13 was un-characterizable. And 3 out 13, or 23% were lunatics.

That's pretty heavily weighted towards Leftist violence as assassination.

4/18/2008 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Maybe Osama Bin Laden and those like him (e.g. Sadr) are not incarnations of King Midas.

It is quite simple, AQ was unmolested and they did not have to expend significant capital to survive, indeed to thrive. They could launch an attack that would elicit a limp-wristed response and appear to be the horse to bet on.

Now, AQ is actively contested in about all it does and has to spend significant capital to survive let alone thrive.

4/18/2008 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Donald Sensing asked:

"John Wilkes Booth was a Leftist?"

A better question is:

"Was John Wilkes Booth a Copperhead?"

Various forms of communism date back to ancient Greece. However it can be argued that modern communism didn't really begin until after Karl Marx first published "Das Kapital" in 1867. Abraham Lincoln was murdered on 15 April 1865. Therefore John Wilkes Booth really predates the leftist thing. However the Moonbat=Copperhead=Booth equation might(?) be a valid line of discussion.

4/18/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Didn't the Left-Right assignment of Left="Liberal / anti-Monarchist" and Right="Conservative / Reactionary" come from the voting patterns in the French Assembly during the revolution? When they called for a vote, the members literally arose from their seats and filed to the left or right side of the chamber to show their choice in the vote.

Or maybe they just SAT on one side or the other to show their allignment to the Old Order or their vehement opposition to it.

4/18/2008 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...one of the reason al-Qaeda is mustering for a new round of spectacular attacks in Iraq ...

If it was me, I'd be taking my terrorist begging cup to Saudi Arabia and fund-raising for a round of spectacular attacks on the Olympics in China. American soldiers have a disconcerting habit of shooting back, but we have seen no evidence that the Chinese are similarly trigger-happy when it comes to defending Jewish or American athletes.

I wonder what sort of airport security the Chinese have put in place to sort through all the travellers coming to the show from around the world ... including the Middle East.

4/18/2008 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

John Wilkes Booth was a Leftist?

No, but there is a confluence of thought between southern apologists, black victimologists, and hard-core socialists. The Civil War, you see, was all about the North's desire for economic hegemony. The white Yankee capitalists get no moral credit for freeing the slaves, because the sole purpose of it was to destroy the South's economy.

4/18/2008 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

A bit supercilious but on the John Wilkes Booth thread, he was and actor after all.

And these days, actor=leftist...

4/18/2008 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

DOH "an" not "and"

Sorry...

4/19/2008 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Dave: A bit supercilious but on the John Wilkes Booth thread, he was and actor after all. And these days, actor=leftist...

Counterexamples:

Danny Aiello
Clint Eastwood
Rick Schroeder
Yaphet Kotto
R. Lee Ermey
Rob Schneider
Scott Baio
Cheryl Ladd
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Heather Locklear
Tom Selleck
Susan Lucci
Jaclyn Smith
Mel Gibson
Bruce Boxleitner
Lara Flynn Boyle
Kelsey Grammar
Dennis Miller
Ben Stein
Dean Cain
Fred Grandy
Kirk Cameron
Chuck Norris
Robert Conrad
Charlton Heston (RIP)
Dennis Hopper
Bruce Willis
Bo Derek

4/19/2008 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Arnold???

4/19/2008 03:38:00 AM  
Blogger Nichevo said...

Good list, Catholic Woman, though you missed Lionel Chetwynd (if we are counting people behind the camera). And Charlton Heston just came off that list of course.

But that's just about the whole bag (aside from closet cases). You show the exceptions that prove the rule.

4/19/2008 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Fred Grandy?

He hasn't worked in Hollywood since 1986!!!!

(see wikipedia)

Dennis Hopper! Guilty!!!!

"Over the past four years, Hopper has given at least $4,000 to the Republican National Committee[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Hopper

4/19/2008 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Ardsgaine said:

"The white Yankee capitalists get no moral credit for freeing the slaves, because the sole purpose of it was to destroy the South's economy."

Spengler wrote a very interesting article on what he believes was the Confederacy's hidden imperial agenda behind the Civil War. Spengler believes the South's not so hidden agenda was to create a slave holding empire extending into the Caribbean and Latin American. Supposably southern whites intended to establish themselves as the new Spartiates living in mastery over African and hispanic helots. This leads to an interesting alternative history where America fissioned into two evil twins. The South would have been the evil masters ruling over their millions of slaves toiling in fields and factories. The North would have been the enabling twin, ruled by copperhead/moonbat nihilists.

What would have been the evil twins response to the rise of communism and fascism in Europe?

It's a very dark (and shameful) alternate history. I'm glad it didn't happen.

4/19/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Bill Whittle offered a conjecture in one of his incomparable essays that if our civil war had ended in a stalemate, with the Confederacy intact, the two contending nations would most likely have had another go in the last decade or so of the 19th century, with even greater bloodletting.

If my memory serves, he indicated the conjecture was not original with him, but I don't recall citations.

The idea certainly is believable. Look at World War II, and it's easy to make sense of it as the settlement of most of the unresolved conflicts that survived the Great War's Armistice of 1918. And of course, many historians refer to the two World Wars as the European Civil War of the 20th Century.

Another commenter maintains elsewhere in recent Belmont streams that there is no end to war among humans; peace is at best a temporary condition.

There have been studies in the name of Psychology that showed for instance that when population densities of deer on certain isolated islands reached some limit, deer would begin dropping dead, evidently from the sheer stress of having so many other dear around, despite the abundance of food and the lack of natural predators.

(Presumably the "academics" never considered that the deer may have dropped dead from the stress of having a bunch of academic poopheads dogging their every step.)

And then there's the classic Psychological study of rats in cages that demonstrated that above a certain population density, some rats would begin chewing on the tails of their neighbors.

"Mister Lecter... Your table is ready..."

4/20/2008 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

"Spengler believes the South's not so hidden agenda was to create a slave holding empire extending into the Caribbean and Latin American."


Heh, dig up some of the Southern newspaper editorials and letters from just before the Civil War. Some were openly talking about expanding thru the Caribbean and Mexico down to the tip of South America. They would graciously permit the North to have Canada. In fact, Spengler's article refers to a book (The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire) on this subject.

No, it wasn't hidden, it's just been forgotten.

Among other things, the Civil War is when the US expunged itself of imperialist tendencies.

4/21/2008 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Mad Fiddler said...

"Look at World War II, and it's easy to make sense of it as the settlement of most of the unresolved conflicts that survived the Great War's Armistice of 1918. And of course, many historians refer to the two World Wars as the European Civil War of the 20th Century."

One of my favorite historians, John Keegan, advances the idea that World War II was a continuation of World War I. It make sense. World War I did not really end with a decisive victor but rather with both sides fighting to utter exhaustion.

I don't subscribe to the notion that the two World Wars were some sort of civil war. If anything, they were a transition process begun by the collapse of the old aristocracy (unwisely prolonged by the Congress of Vienna), the rise of totalitarianism and ultimately followed by the victorious hegemony of the United States along with the imposition of democracy.

Mad Fiddler also said:

"Another commenter maintains elsewhere in recent Belmont streams that there is no end to war among humans; peace is at best a temporary condition."

One can certainly show a chaining process with major wars. One could argue that the Franco-Prussian War lead to WW-I. WW-I lead to WW-II. WW-II lead to the Korean War and the Suez Crisis. The Korean War lead to the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War induced the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. The Suez Crisis, the Seven-Day War and the rise of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan all contributed to Islamic militancy and the next probable major war.

I suspect that wars to politics might be like recessions to economics, i.e. recessions can actually be "good things" because they cleanse the economic system of excess liquidity and weak enterprises. Wars are often times the only way to rid the world of Hitlers and Saddam Husseins. Unfortunately, the fallacy with this argument is that modern warfare has become too expensive and efficient at destruction. It could take centuries for two sides to recover socially and economically if nuclear weapons were used extensively.

However war does have a cleansing effect. I suspect one of the reasons why there are so many moonbats in the political system is because we haven't had a major war in over 50 years (I don't consider the Vietnam War to be major and the Iraq War is certainly a very minor war). I base this "moonbat theory" on World War II. Prior to World War II, Europe and the United States were shrieking with moonbats (they dominated the political process). However after World War II, the moonbats were mostly in hiding and the world was mainly focused on reconstruction. If one examines this close up, one could make the following observation. Your present day 23 year old kid, naive and fresh out of college is very susceptible to moonbat ideology such as being presented by Barack Hussein. However in 1947, your typical 23 year old kid was a USMC second lieutenant with command experience and personal kills of multiple Japanese soldiers. This kid from the 1947s would have laughed at Barack Hussein and instinctively voted for someone like Eisenhower (no way this kid would have been suckered by a demagogue). I see this sort of low level phenomena as the driving force behind the chaining of wars.

4/21/2008 10:49:00 AM  

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