Archive for the 'Jihadists' Category



Tim Lynch On ISIS And Jihad

BY Herschel Smith
2 months ago

My good friend Tim Lynch sent me a note today that is so valuable that it needs to be shared with my readers.  I asked Tim permission to do so in its entirety.  Tim was a contractor (military and intelligence) in Afghanistan for about a decade.

He knows more about Afghanistan (and as much about Jihad) as any English speaking man alive.  His words should be studied.

Thanks for that Herschel I didn’t know or correspond with Jim when he was in Afghanistan and that is no doubt my loss.  Seeing him go that way makes me pissed too.  It reminds me that in both Afghanistan and Iraq the Jihadis faced the most danger when activly fighting Americans.  If they were wound and captured or just captured by the Americans they were in the safest situation they could possibly be in given the time and place.  Literally – they would not be safer no matter where they were or who they were with if they were captured by our military.  Conversely an American was in mortal danger not while fighting Jihadis but if captured by them.  The Jihadis were horrible at fighting, cowards when hard pressed but lions once their foes were wounded, hog tied and under their control.

I hate cowards more than just about anything and those punks, who would cut and run in the blink of an eye if they felt pressure on their flanks, are straight up cowards.  And only cowards could believe that beheading captives will put fear in a warriors heart – it does the exact opposite and this country still produces enough men who will run through the fires of hell just to sink a bayonet into the guts of cowards who threaten our way of life.

Those shitbirds will find that out soon enough.

 

Losing the Forest for the Trees: Drone Strike Kills al-Libi

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 4 months ago

Hat tip to Hot Air.

The New York Times as well as other media outlets are now confirming, along with the Obama Administration, that Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, has been killed by a drone strike in a remote, Pakistani village last week:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Central Intelligence Agency drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal belt killed Al Qaeda’s deputy leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, American officials said on Tuesday, dealing another blow to the group in a lawless area that has long been considered the global headquarters of international terrorism but the importance of which may now be slipping.

***

The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said that as a result of Mr. Libi’s death, “there is no clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibility, and that puts additional pressure” on Al Qaeda, “bringing it closer to its ultimate demise than ever.”

***

If his death is borne out this time, it would be a milestone in a covert eight-year airstrike campaign that has infuriated Pakistani officials but that has remained one of the United States’ most effective tools in combating militancy.

***

One American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described Mr. Libi as one of Al Qaeda’s “most experienced and versatile leaders,” and said he had “played a critical role in the group’s planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts.”

As damaging as these “decapitation operations” may be to Al Qaeda, we seem to be losing the forest for the trees.

While the U.S. focuses on sending missiles through the windows of every, significant Al Qaeda leader that remains (and each, new one that sprouts up), the war against Militant Islam has long since moved on to other, more threatening venues.  Iran, for example, is a declared enemy of the United States, bent on developing nuclear weapons, but U.S. policy has never reflected anywhere near the seriousness accorded to Al Qaeda, despite the fact that Iran poses a threat that is orders of magnitude greater than Al Qaeda.  Islamists appear poised to take absolute control of the most populous Arab state in Egypt and are actively taking advantage of the civil war in Syria where U.S. intransigence has created a vacuum among the rebel forces.  Turkey is moving doggedly toward an Islamist state that will seek to dominate the region in direct conflict with U.S. national interests.   Pakistan seems to be increasingly in the grip of Islamists who occupy key positions in its military and intelligence services.   More ominously, Europe is increasingly subject to the influence and intimidation of Islamist immigrants who regularly resort to violence to undermine traditional, Western values.   In the U.S., any talk of Islamists or their ideology is forbidden throughout the federal government.

For all that George W. Bush may have gotten wrong during his eight years in office, and in particular with his war planning, he did understand that the United States (and the West at large) was not fighting only or even primarily against Al Qaeda, but against a broader ideology– islamofascism, if you will– that motivated not only Al Qaeda but an entire movement of muslims determined to impose fundamentalist Islam upon the world.

As a last, side note on the al-Libi assassination, we should be careful what we wish for.  The U.S. may succeed in debilitating Al Qaeda’s operation capabilities to such an extent that they will change tactics and resort to the sort of “lone wolf” terror tactics that traumatized Israeli society in the intifada days of a decade ago.  Anyone who lived as I did in the Washington, D.C. area in the Fall of 2002 well remembers how just two persons, acting on their own in seemingly random fashion, could seriously disrupt an entire region.  It is a wonder that the Islamists have not resorted to this tactic in any concerted way.  Let’s hope that they don’t.   But, considering how little strategic thinking seems to be going on in D.C., “hope” may be the only thing left.

Lessons Learned In The War with Militant Islam, Part One: Naming the Enemy

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 10 months ago

December in Western Culture is always an appropriate time of year for reflection– remembering that all-important point in history when God invaded our world in human form.   This particular December, however, is especially appropriate for reflection on what has variously been termed “The Long War” or, “World War IV,” or, by this Administration as, “Overseas Contingency Operations” as the President has unilaterally declared that the Iraq War is over and the books are closed.

It is my intention, then, to offer up over the next weeks what I consider to be the lessons we have learned in the 30-plus years since the re-birth and rise of Militant Islam in 1979.   I wish I could preface this series with optimism and confidence of victory.   I wish I could write that the West is winning, however slowly, the great struggle against this latest fascist incarnation, but reality will not permit.

It is time to face this awful situation squarely, not with fatalism or despair but with determination.   It is impossible to ignore the steady drumbeat of politically correct programs that hamstrings our efforts, or another miserable candidate who garners applause with 1920′s style isolationist rhetoric.  American leaders seem all too adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and mistaking our friends and enemies.

Barring the advent of national leadership which is nowhere evident, or a miracle of some kind– of which history is not replete— we must bravely conclude that, for now, the American public at large will not rouse itself to effective action.   We are caught in yet another national whirlpool of apathy, denial, distraction and delusion— just as we were in the 1930′s and the 1990′s– from which the only escape is a national trauma on the scale of a Pearl Harbor or September 11th calamity.  We have pushed our luck far too many times and refuse to get serious about taking the fight to the enemy– indeed, a president is applauded when he promises to “bring the troops home” without regard for consequences.   Ear-pleasing platitudes are what the Public demands, so it is no wonder that the politicians serve it up by the plateful.

If there is any ground for optimism in this Long War, it may be found in the capacity of our enemy to bouts of incredible stupidity.  To be sure, the U.S. is no less prone to such lapses, so in this respect the Long War is like a game of football in which the side committing the fewer mistakes will win.   I take from this a grim hope that the inevitable attack against the U.S. by the Islamists will be limited to a similar scope and scale of the 9-11 attacks.   Is it too ironic to pray that the Islamists be so stupid again?

As terrible as such an attack would be, American history suggests that we are only roused to great and decisive action by such, limited attacks.    If the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor, it is difficult to say when the U.S. would have openly entered World War II against the Nazis.   Without an American entry in December 1941, it is doubtful that Normandy is invaded in 1944.    Without an invasion of Normandy in 1944, it is possible that Hitler’s scientists finish development of an atomic bomb.

To reference more recent history, it is clear that the U.S. would not have invaded Afghanistan nor deposed Saddam Hussein without the September 11 attacks.  It is perhaps a sign of our timidity and half-hearted approach that we have failed to achieve any, definitive victory in the War even 10 years later.   Nonetheless, it is clear that the September 11th attacks stirred America to a unity of action and purpose (albeit squandered and now cooled) that has not been seen since 1945.

To be clear: I do not wish any, such attack against the homeland.   I do believe, however, that such an attack is increasingly inevitable.   It is only right, therefore, that we consider all of the lessons learned in the 10-plus years since September 11, 2001 in the hopes that we not repeat those mistakes.   With the frightening prospect of an attack lingering on the horizon, I offer the first of at least nine lessons from this Long War:

Lesson #1:  Clearly identify those responsible and what they represent.

Regular readers will know that I detest the moniker, “War on Terror.”

As many pundits and writers have pointed out, “terror” is a tactic.   It is not something we can fight and defeat.   And to the extent that we refuse or avoid recognizing the Enemy and calling it by the proper name, we splinter our efforts, lessening the odds of prevailing.   In this season of presidential campaigns, Americans should insist that the Republican candidates at the very least make a clean break from political correctness and honestly name the enemy.   Militant Islam, Radical Islam, Islamofascism.   The point is that all Americans and the world must understand that these attacks originate from an ideology and not simply from a criminal enterprise or a fringe group of shadowy “terrorists.”

The 9-11 attackers were trained and motivated, at the very least, by an interpretation of the Koran and Islam that joyfully and obediently embraces a violent and decisive confrontation with anyone, muslim or not, who does not adhere to their doctrine.  It is a seething belief that the entire world must be conquered and subdued to the will of their god, Allah.  It is not an ideology that can be appeased or reasoned with any more than other, authoritarian doctrines.    The West should have learned from its experiences with the Nazis and Communists that an ideology embraced with religious fanaticism cannot be appeased or mollified but must be defeated and discredited.

Militant Islam may very well prove to be the most virulent of the authoritarian ideologies to manifest itself since the rise of the Ottoman Empire.   We are fighting against a body of believers numbered in the tens of millions, even if they only consist of a minority of muslims.  This is not a fringe group.  Islamists are spread across continents and ethnicities.   Compounding this danger is the apparent surge of power and influence of Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Middle East.

Since 9-11, the U.S. has been rightly pursuing the militants, not only in Afghanistan but literally across the globe.   But while the U.S. military has worked wonders in places like Fallujah, Ramadi, Marjah and the Philippines, the larger U.S. government has acted like an adolescent who cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.  Too often the focus on military operations has resulted in a complete failure to engage in the larger war of ideas in places that are not hot zones but are no less critical.   Worse still, the U.S. State Department has often worked at cross-purposes with the military.

Consider Lebanon.  The U.S. invasion of Iraq, despite all the hand-wringing and wailing of the Left Wing Media, created a powerful opportunity for the rise of a non-Islamist coalition.  We forget that the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon came on the heels of the capture of Saddam Hussein and even anti-U.S. figures such as Walid Jumblatt were reluctantly praising the elections in Iraq:

The January 2005 vote in Iraq also appeared to play a role since it supported the notion that Arabs craved democracy. (Lebanese Druze chieftain Walid Jumblatt gave credence to the importance of these developments when he said, “It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. . . . When I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.”)

But the U.S. simply could not summon the will to support democratic groups in any, meaningful fashion.  The U.S. foreign policy establishment preferred to coddle and reach out to thugs like Bashir Assad in Syria.   And so Lebanon has slipped ever more deeply into the control of Hezbollah, funded and controlled by Iran through Syria.

Recently we have seen Egypt, Tunisia and Libya sliding into the Islamists’ camp.   The U.S. seems not only oblivious to this developing disaster but actively supportive.  Whether this folly is generated by a fear of offending muslim sensibilities or an arrogance that the U.S. can co-opt or mold the Islamists once they are in power, the net result is the same.   Ironically, the Obama Administration does not want to be seen as meddling in the internal affairs of Egypt or Iran, but has no such qualms with interfering with formerly pro-American allies like Honduras and Colombia.

This refusal to acknowledge the enemy will forever cripple our war efforts and will enable the enemy.   A muslim who does not subscribe to the Wahhabist version and rejects militant Islam should be no more offended when we target the Islamists than a 1940′s German would be offended by our targeting of Nazis.   In fact, our refusal to clearly identify the enemy in this case creates a dangerous confusion in the minds of non-muslims and muslims alike.   Muslims need to clearly and unequivocally choose sides in this War.   Are they with us or with the Islamists?

The current taboo allows and encourages a shadowy world where loyalties remain unknown and ambiguous.  It is no interference with freedom of religion to ask whether a mosque is preaching Militant Islam.   No one has ever asserted that freedom of religion includes a right to advocate for the subversion and overthrow of our Constitution and nation.   It is incumbent on members of any congregation, muslim, christian, jewish, or mormon, to report and, if necessary, testify against leadership that advocates violence against others in society.   Personal knowledge of violent plots combined with a refusal to report them constitutes at least passive participation in a criminal conspiracy.    In time of war, however, the failure to expose the efforts of the enemy to recruit for and advance attacks is treasonous.

For some mysterious reason, however, no Administration has ever dared to clearly identify militant Islam as the enemy.  Instead, we have tried to fight Islamists as a criminal enterprise  (Reagan, Bush I and Clinton); as nameless, religionless “terrorists” (Bush II); and now as a “specific network” consisting only of Al-Qaeda (Obama).  We cannot defeat an enemy we dare not name.

Striking a Deal with the Haqqanis

BY Herschel Smith
3 years ago

This article from The Hindu provides a good summary history of the Haqqanis.  Upon reading it, consider just how well connected and globally minded they are.

Born in the early 1950s, Jalaluddin Haqqani hailed from the Zadran tribe of the Pashtun ethnic group. He studied at a seminary in Datta Adam Khel, and would likely have gone on to become a rural cleric — had it not been for a series of dramatic events that transformed Afghanistan, eventually bringing to power a new class of armed clerics who would displace both the traditional tribal élite and the modernising left-wing secularists who had swept them aside.

In 1973, Afghan communists overthrew the decaying monarchy. Even though the new President, Daud Muhammad Khan, was the deposed king’s brother-in-law, he declared the country a republic. President Khan presided over a dramatic process of social reform — marked, among other things, by an emphasis on women’s rights. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, fearful that Mr. Khan’s nationalist rhetoric would seduce ethnic Pashtuns living on its side of the border, responded by backing an insurgency spearheaded by the Afghan Islamists.

Five years before the crisis that would suck the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, Jalaluddin Haqqani declared war against the Afghan state. Helped by the ISI, he developed sources of funding in the Middle East, using the flow of cash to build an impressive military apparatus.

The ISI, though, wasn’t Jalaluddin Haqqani’s only source of support. In the wake of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, journalist Steve Coll has revealed, he was cultivated as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset. Charlie Wilson, a right-wing politician who helped funnel tens of millions of dollars to the Afghan jihadists, described Jalaluddin Haqqani as “goodness personified.”

Key figures in the global jihadist movement — among them Osama bin Laden — learned their military skills in camps set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, and maintained a close relationship with him in the years that followed.

Mustafa al-Hamid, an al-Qaeda linked ideologue and writer who served with Jalaluddin Haqqani’s forces, wrote a hagiographic account which was published in the jihadist magazine al-Somud last year. The “majesty in his personality was a model for the great religious scholars of Afghanistan and students of the knowledge of the pure mujahideen, who now stand as an impregnable bulwark against the largest crusader attack upon the Islamic nation.”

From the outset, scholars Don Rassler and Vahid Brown have noted in a seminal paper, that Jalaluddin Haqqani helped shape the global jihadist movement’s ideas.

In 1980, for example, Haqqani asserted that Middle Eastern charity to the Afghan campaign did “not absolve the individual Muslim of the duty to offer himself for the jihad.” Abdullah Azzam — bin Laden’s mentor, Lashkar-e-Taiba co-founder and ideological patriarch of the global jihadist movement — arrived at the same conclusion four years later, when he declared the Afghan jihad fard ‘ayn, an individual obligation. When bin Laden shifted base to a pink stucco three-storey home in Khartoum in 1991, having fallen out with Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Jalaluddin Haqqani used the opportunity to operate on a wider stage. He backed Hasan al-Turabi’s Islamist regime in Sudan, and sent volunteers to fight in Bosnia. In 1991, at a meeting in Karachi, he also bragged about his war against India, saying his networks had “trained thousands of Kashmiri mujahideen and have made them ready for the jihad.”

Nizamuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin Haqqani’s deputy, proclaimed in 1991 that the U.S. and Russia were “both infidel forces.”

Bin Laden’s close relationship with the Haqqanis helped him act on those ideas during his last, tortured months in Afghanistan — scarred by an increasingly bitter relationship with Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar which saw al-Qaeda’s leader confined to the city of Kandahar.

“From that point on,” Dr. Rassler and Dr. Brown record, “al-Qaeda came to increasingly rely on the Haqqani network’s autonomy from the Taliban in Loya Paktia as a launching pad for its declarations of war on the West.”

Bin Laden’s declaration of jihad against the West — his most sweeping manifesto and ideological keystone of the 9/11 attacks, was critically issued from a Haqqani camp in the Zhawara valley.

Since 9/11, the Haqqani network has survived by using the same geographical advantages that stood it so well during the anti-Soviet jihad: its control of key routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and its ability to retreat south across the border.

Now take note of one particularly stolid commentary at Reuters.

Pakistan hopes the United States will eventually welcome the participation of the Haqqanis in any Afghan peace talks. Kabul also understands the group can’t be excluded.

Although the Haqqanis fall under the command of Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, U.S. officials believe they do not always accept Taliban authority and can act independently.

Jalaluddin has historically shown a penchant for changing sides, as the Americans know all too well, and he may be more flexible than the hardline Siraj.

Washington is scrambling to bring stability to Afghanistan at it gradually withdraws from the country. Striking a deal with the Haqqanis may be wise while the ailing Jalaluddin might still have a say.

That was no mistake, and you don’t have to read it again.  Reuters is recommending that we strike a deal with the “ailing” elder Haqqani who likes to switch sides rather than his more radical son.  And hurry.  The ailing Haqqani may die, in which case whatever deal we might have struck with him – which was sure to be honored by his more radical son – will have been a missed opportunity.

This is what happens when ignorant people assign themselves the responsibility and authority to become Afghanistan / Pashtun / Islamic / Jihadist / Pakistani experts.  Also, regarding that last paragraph in The Hindu piece on control of key routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan, who was it that issued the warning about the coming logistical struggle because of the attacks on lines through Khyber and Chaman, and that, three and a half years ago?

Civilizational War 10 Years After 9-11: Can the West Recover?

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 1 month ago

It is appropriate to consider, ten years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, what has transpired and where we find ourselves.

A number of excellent writers have undertaken to do this, so I will not re-invent the wheel.  At the same time, however, there are a few points that seem to be missing from the analysis.

So, for example, Barry Rubin over at Pajamas Media has an article titled, “Ten Years After September 11: Who’s Really Winning The War On Terrorism?”  Rubin has an excellent summary of the Al Qaeda strategy and its place in the larger context of Islamic militancy:

Let’s be clear. Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon to achieve several goals:

–To become the leader in a worldwide jihad.

–To persuade Muslims that America is weak and can be defeated.

–To stir far more Muslims to jihad, that is a Holy War that today can be defined as an Islamist revolution.

–To mobilize forces in order to challenge and eventually to overthrow all of the existing regimes in the Sunni Muslim areas, replacing Arab nationalism in many of those countries with Islamism as the main ideological force.

I would suggest that al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks largely succeeded in three of those four goals. Only in the first did it fail, and for a very good reason. Precisely because it carried out the attacks, al-Qaeda became the main target for U.S. efforts and repression by leaders in Muslim-majority countries. Consequently, it has suffered greatly from losses.

By the same token, however, other Islamist forces have largely been left alone by the West or faced far less pressure. Such groups include the Muslim Brotherhood groups, Hamas, Hizballah, and the pro-Islamist regimes in Syria and Iran. In fact, Islamist groups and Islamism as an ideology have advanced impressively, especially in the last few years.

I would differ with Rubin that Al Qaeda did not succeed in becoming the leader in worldwide jihad.  Clearly, in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, Al Qaeda was easily the most visible terror group and most heralded in the Islamist world.  The fact that Al Qaeda has suffered a disproportionate number of decapitation operations by the U.S. does not mean that it did not accomplish its goal of jihadi leadership. In fact, it could be argued that Al Qaeda has succeeded brilliantly in this regard to the extent that the U.S. has been distracted from fighting other no-less dangerous groups which share the wider goals of Islamist domination of the West.

Indeed, Rubin alludes to this as the very problem afflicting U.S. policy:

Where is terrorism weaker? Other than Algeria, where it was defeated in a bloody civil war, it is hard to find any such examples, though in other places  like Morocco and Saudi Arabia — terrorism has not made gains.

In many places in Europe, the Brotherhood and even more radical groups have made important strides in gaining hegemony in neighborhoods and over Muslim communities. Governments have not combatted this and even have encouraged it, arguing that the organizations are not presently using terrorism. But with growing radical Islamist ideas, the level of terrorism and intimidation also increases.

A key factor is the failure of the U.S. government, which basically defines anything that isn’t al-Qaeda as not being a threat. Within the United States, a major terrorist attack has been averted, though luck seems to play a role here (underpants bomber; Times Square bomber). At the same time there have been many more small-scale attacks. One way the U.S. government achieves positive statistics is to redefine specific events — a shooting at the El Al counter in Los Angeles, an attack on a Jewish community center in the Pacific Northwest, the murder of a military recruiter in Arkansas, and even the Ft. Hood killer — as non-terrorist, non-Islamist criminal acts.

So are things much better a decade after the September 11 attacks? Aside from the very important aspect of avoiding a huge successful terror attack on the United States, the answer is “no.”

Another PJM article by Raymond Ibrahim emphasizes this point as well.

The unfortunate fact is that, even if al-Qaeda were totally eradicated tomorrow, the terror threat to the West would hardly recede, since al-Qaeda has never been the source of the threat, but simply one of its manifestations. The AP report obliquely reflects this: “Senior al-Qaeda figures have been killed before, only to be replaced,” even as the Obama administration is optimistic that “victory” is at hand.

To get a better perspective on the overall significance of the latest killing of an al-Qaeda member, consider how at the turn of the 20th century, the Islamic world was rushing to emulate the victorious and confident West — best exemplified by the Ottoman empire itself, the preserver and enforcer of Islam, rejecting its Muslim past and embracing secularism under Ataturk. Today, 100 years later, the Muslim world has largely rejected secularism and is reclaiming its Islamic — including jihadist — heritage, lashing out in a manifold of ways. Consider how many Islamist leaders, organizations, and terrorists have come and gone in the 20th century alone — many killed like bin Laden — only for the conflict between Islam and the West to continue growing by the day.

This is the essence of where we stand today.  By and large, the Obama Administration and its supporters on the Left refuse to face the fundamental nature of the conflict.   While it is true that Al Qaeda carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001, those attacks were merely a manifestation of what has been a perpetual civilizational conflict between Islam and the West since the militant spread of Islam after 632 A.D.  The militant strain of Islam has always sought to expand and dominate non-muslim peoples and it always will.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes in Carnage and Culture:

In the century between [the death of Muhammad and the critical battle of Poitiers, France in 732 A.D. which stopped the incursion of Islam into Southern Europe], a small and rather impotent Arab people arose to conquer the Sassanid Persian Empire, wrest the entire Middle East and much of Asia Minor from the Byzantines, and establish a theocratic rule across North Africa…. [B]y the mid-eighth century, the suddenly ascendant kingdom of the Arabs controlled three continents and an area larger than the old Roman Empire itself.

The Arab conquests were a result of two phenomena: prior contact with Byzantines, from whom they borrowed, looted, and then adapted arms, armor, and some of their military organization; and the weakness of the [Persian Empire and remnants of barbarian conquests of Asia and North Africa].

***

[The conquests by early Islamic militants goes beyond adopted technologies and weak adversaries]. There was to be a novel connection between war and faith, creating a divine culture that might reward with paradise the slaying of the infidel and the looting of Christian cities.  Killing and pillaging were now in the proper context, acts of piety.

***

For the rest of the ninth through tenth centuries, the war between [Islam and the West] would break out in northern Spain, southern Italy, Sicily, and the other larger islands of the Mediterranean [which] became the new line of battle between the two entirely antithetical cultures.

(pages 146-149).

Although Hanson is commenting upon distant history, it is remarkable how applicable these observations remain today and how little the nature of Islam has changed in 1300 years.   Militant Islam in the 21st century still maintains the “novel connection between war and faith” and a “divine culture that might reward with paradise the slaying of the infidel.”   True, militant Islam has traded in the scimitar for  suicide bomber vests and I.E.D.s, but the subjugation of unbelievers remains the same.

We seem to be making a fundamental mistake in the West when we fail to see the broader context of the struggle.   September 11, 2001 was not a “tragedy” but an act of war.  A tactical strike by militant Islam at the financial, military and (it was hoped) political heart of the West.   And it was not the first such strike.  Militant Islam has been on the march in modern times since at least 1979 with the founding of the theocratic state of Iran.  As Mr. Ibrahim writes in his article, the muslim world is quickly turning (or, more exactly, re-turning) to militant Islam as a means of forcing an expansion of power, in the Middle East in the short term and in Europe and even North America in the long term.  This is not some new phenomenon to any student of history but a continuation of a struggle between two civilizations: one based upon Greek and Roman thoughts of law and liberty with Christian overlays (Western democracy) and one based upon the all-encompassing rule of the Koran which sublimates the individual in every aspect of life.   The two cultures are thoroughly incompatible and the history of the world has shown that peace has only, ever reigned between the two when Islam was too weak to force its will upon the West.

This, then, should be the take-away from 9-11:  we are in a desperate struggle for civilizational survival that is being fought on the battlefield, certainly, but also in the courtroom, in the media, in politically correct driven government policy and think tanks, and in the very essence of our culture— how we view our basic freedoms and the means we are willing to employ to cherish and defend them.

Sadly, I see little evidence, ten years after the attacks of 9-11, that America’s leaders are at all willing to face this larger context.  It is too frightening.  The risk of being called xenophobic, or Islamophobic or chauvinistic is too intimidating.   So we will fight where we find it convenient to fight.  Drone attacks that take out an Al Qaeda leader but leave in peace Iranian leaders  who have killed far more Americans than Al Qaeda or the Taliban.   We will look for the first opportunity to declare victory, as when Osama Bin Laden was killed, but ignore the mortal threats to peace and economic security posed by a nuclear Iran or a growing Hezbollah or Hamas.   We will sacrifice precious blood and treasure gaining great victories in Iraq and Afghanistan only to throw it away in hasty withdrawals under the smokescreen of “transition.”

Can the West recover in time?

Sharia is Coming!

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 8 months ago

From a Small Wars Council discussion thread of September 2010 entitled Sharia is Coming! Sharia is Coming!

Rex Brynen:

From the Centre for Security Policy, Shariah: The Threat to America (An Exercise in Competitive Analysis—Report of Team ‘B’ II):

Today, the United States faces what is, if anything, an even more insidious ideological threat: the totalitarian socio-political doctrine that Islam calls shariah. Translated as “the path,” shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a “religious” code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere – economic, social, military, legal and political….

…as this report documents powerfully, our leaders have failed to perceive – let alone respond effectively to – the real progress being made by the Muslim Brotherhood in insinuating shariah into the very heartland of America through stealthy means. Team B II believes that the defeat of the enemy’s stealth jihad requires that the American people and their leaders be aroused to the high stakes in this war, as well as to the very real possibility that we could lose, absent a determined and vigorous program to keep America shariah-free. To that end, Team B II sets forth in plain language who this enemy is, what the ideology is that motivates and justifies his war against us, the various forms of warfare the enemy employs to achieve his ends, the United States’ vulnerability to them, and what we must do to emerge victorious.

The team was lead by retired Lieutenant General William G. “My God is bigger than yours” Boykin. As far as I can see, it contains no actual experts on Islam or Islamic law. That may explain the factual inaccuracies and rather hysterical, paranoid tone.

Tom Odom:

Is Allen Arkin gonna play the Imam?

I mean really, “concerned with the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time: the legal-political-military doctrine known within Islam as “shariah,” is more than a little hysterical.

Steve Metz:

It’s very sad that Boykin and Soyster were part of this. Some people are just hard wired for fear and hate. They’ve been lost without a mission since the demise of the Soviet Union. In the absence of a real demon, they concoct one out of whatever raw material is available.

Dripping with sarcasm and disbelief, no?  Perhaps a mixture of pity and indignation.  Guffaw.  Harrumph.  Stupid Appalachian hicks.  How ridiculous that whomever wrote about such an idea as militant Sharia would even be allowed to own property or vote.  They must be in need of reeducation.  At a minimum it’s time to roll out the sensitivity classes.

Or maybe not.

Europeans often fantasize about America’s so-called Jewish lobby, which they claim has a chokehold over American finance, media and politics and is responsible for all manner of conspiratorial evil. But few Europeans like to talk about the growing influence of Europe’s Muslim lobby, a conglomeration of hundreds of Muslim political and religious organizations — many of which are media-savvy mouthpieces for militant Islam that openly pursue anti-European, anti-Western and anti-Semitic agendas and often receive financial support from Islamic fundamentalist countries like Saudi Arabia.

In a Europe where Islam is the fastest-growing religion, and where the number of Muslims has tripled over the past 30 years, Europe’s Muslim lobby is becoming increasingly assertive and skilled at pressuring European policy-makers into implementing countless pro-Islamic policies, especially ones that institutionalize Islamic Sharia law. Muslim lobby groups are, in fact, transforming European society in ways unimaginable only a few years ago; critics say their ultimate goal is nothing less than the Islamification of Europe.

Some of the most effective Muslim lobby groups are located in Britain, home to one of the largest Muslim communities in Europe, and include organizations such as the Muslim Council of Britain [MCB], Britain’s largest Muslim umbrella body with around 500 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools. It recently pressured the British government into adopting Islamic law and giving Sharia courts full powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The British government has quietly sanctioned the powers for Sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence. Whereas previously, the rulings of Sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims, rulings issued by a network of five Sharia courts are now enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Sharia courts with these powers have been set up in Birmingham, Bradford, London and Manchester and the network’s headquarters are located in Nuneaton, Warwickshire; and two more courts are being planned for Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Overall, at least 85 Islamic Sharia courts are now operating in Britain, almost 20 times as many as previously believed. A study by the Civitas think tank found that scores of unofficial tribunals and councils regularly apply Islamic law to resolve domestic, marital and business disputes, many operating in mosques. The study warns of a “creeping” acceptance of Sharia principles in British law.)

Although the MCB, which represents half of the country’s 3 million Muslims, presents itself as the moderate face of Islam in Britain, the group has its origins in the extreme orthodox politics of Pakistan. The MCB and some of its affiliates sympathize with, and have links to, conservative Islamist movements in the Muslim world, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami, a radical party committed to the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan ruled by Sharia law.

More locally, Andrew McCarthy observes, after discussing our our Western pet desires to coddle Islam as a religion of peace, that:

The Jeruslam Post’s Barry Rubin won’t play along. He disrupted our sweet dreams last week with a pronouncement from al-Azhar University. Al-Azhar is the centuries-old seat of Sunni scholarship in Egypt, a status that vests its sharia scholars with unparalleled doctrinal influence over the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims.

It is conventional wisdom among the West’s Islamophilic opinion elites — and thus prototypically among Obama administration officials — that jihad, the Islamic injunction to struggle in Allah’s cause, has been distorted by sharia-obsessed Islamophobes into a summons to destroy the West. Jihad, this wisdom holds, is just an internal exercise in self-betterment — kind of like greening the planet and brushing after every meal. Jihad becomes confrontational and even violent only in self-defense, when Muslims are truly under siege.

Au contraire, says al-Azhar’s Imad Mustafa. To be sure, he agrees that the doctrine of “defensive jihad” calls for war against non-Muslims who “attack” Muslims. But defense, for purposes of this doctrine, is in the eye of the beholder — or, more accurately, in the eye of the mufti who decides what sorts of provocations constitute an “attack.” Implicitly, that leaves room for lots of pretty offensive jihad if the mufti construes the concept of “attack” broadly enough. What is bracing about Mustafa’s new fatwa, however, is that he’s not leaving anything to chance. He’s making what is implicit unmistakably explicit.

Besides the defensive variety, Mustafa expressly endorses “offensive jihad” as the license to attack non-Muslims living in non-Islamic countries. It is the consensus of sharia scholars, he instructs, that offensive jihad is “permissible” in three different situations: (a) “to secure Islam’s border”; (b) “to extend God’s religion to people in cases where the governments do not allow it”; and (c) “to remove every religion but Islam from the Arabian peninsula.”

So it’s up to you.  There are those who lampoon calls for caution and diligence concerning assertive Islamic theology and civil law.  Then there are those who point to examples of it already having essentially taken over, such as in parts of Britain or those Islamic neighborhoods in France where the police wont even go.

Where do you stand?

The HVT Campaign and New Breed of Taliban Commanders

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 10 months ago

From The Telegraph:

The special forces onslaught hailed by Nato as helping turn the momentum against the Taliban was in fact making peace more remote he claimed.

Mullah Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a deputy leader of Hamid Karzai’s peace council tasked with finding a political settlement, said the attempt to wipe out the Taliban hierarchy was “in vain”.

The comments by the former Taliban ambassador to the United Nations contradict buoyant Nato commanders who have boasted the raids by troops including the SAS have rattled the insurgency.

By driving Taliban from their heartlands with Barack Obama’s surge reinforcements, while targeting the command, Nato believes it can drive insurgents to the negotiating table.

Mullah Mujahid however said an older more pragmatic generation of Taliban leaders was being replaced by zealots opposed to any reconciliation.

He said: “Any older commanders that have been killed, the fanatical ones have come in their place.

“In that way we are losing a lot of politically-minded Taliban. The new ones have a more religious mentality. They are only fighters.” Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir, a hardliner and former Guantánamo Bay prisoner who rose to become deputy leader this year, typified the new breed he said.

While regular readers know all about my lack of advocacy for the HVT campaign, I don’t want to read too much into this report.  Mujahid’s account isn’t reason enough to abandon the HVT campaign if it’s working.  My claim isn’t (and has never been) that we are replacing bad actors with worse actors, or that the SOF operators aren’t highly qualified and useful warriors, or that it wouldn’t be a good thing to have more Taliban commanders dead.  My claim has heretofore been that it is a mostly ineffective strategy and misuse of highly skilled operators who should be matrixed to infantry Battalions (as in the Marine Corps, i.e., Force Recon and Scout Sniper).

Nor have I been a proponent of the ridiculous reconciliation program.  There is absolutely no point of similarity between the Sons of Iraq program – implemented when the Iraqi insurgents were losing badly – and the supposed Taliban reconciliation program.

However, there is an interesting revelation that comports with a theme I have been following, that is, the increased religious radicalization of the Afghan Taliban given the protracted nature of the campaign and the prolonged exposure to foreign (Arabic) religious influences.  The longer this thing draws out, the more we are facing (what was once) a national insurgency that has now become a transnational insurgency.

Weekend Reading #4

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 1 month ago

First up, regular comment contributor to The Captain’s Journal Roy Keyes gives us:

Hezbollah: The Party of God

Viewed as both hero and villain, Hezbollah is possibly the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world today. Hezbollah’s worldview is fueled by the perception that the Muslim world is experiencing a period of deep crisis and as a result, members of the organization are encouraged to strike at the forces of evil in the world in order to accelerate the final battle between Muslims and the West (Hezbollah Dossier, 2009).

This is a good one and is well worth some time today or this weekend.

Second, another paper on Hezbollah:

Hezbollah in South America

Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Iran-sponsored Shi’i Muslim terrorist organization, has established global networks in at least 40 countries. Its growing presence in South America is increasingly troublesome to U.S. policymakers, yet there are few experts on Hezbollah and fewer still on Hezbollah Latino America. Hezbollah’s operatives have infiltrated the Western Hemisphere from Canada to Argentina, and its activity is increasing, particularly in the lawless Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. This research was conducted to expose the actions and objectives of Hezbollah in the TBA. The majority of US officials and operators believe that Hezbollah’s terrorist wing is separate from its political wing, but these are misconceptions from people who “mirror-image” the American experience when assessing Hezbollah. Unfamiliarity with the organization makes these assessors vulnerable to its propaganda, which is a severe problem that permeates the US government and its operatives. People who think Hezbollah is or could be compartmentalized or disunited are not familiar with the organization and perceive Hezbollah through the lens of the organization’s extensive propaganda effort. Hezbollah has a large operational network in the TBA, which generates funds for the party, but its primary mission is to plan attacks and lie dormant, awaiting instructions to execute operations against Western targets.

And one more must read from the Center for Security Policy:

Sharia: The Threat to America

Team B II believes that the role played in this regard by shariah’s most sophisticated jihadists, the Muslim Brotherhood, is of particular concern.  Steeped in Islamic doctrine, and already embedded deep inside both the United States and our allies, the Brotherhood has become highly skilled in exploiting the civil liberties and multicultural proclivities of Western societies for the purpose of destroying the latter from within. As America’s top national security leadership continues to be guided by its post-modernist, scientific, and high-tech world-view, it neglects the reality that 7th Century impulses, enshrined in shariah, have reemerged as the most critical existential threat to constitutional governance and the freedom-loving, reason-driven principles that undergird Western civilization.

I found especially pleasing that the authors were scholarly in their approach.  They traced the contemporary jihadist movement not only back to its original theological roots, but also back to its temporal and contemporary roots in Sayyid Qutb, whom I have know about a long time.  Interestingly, he inveighed:

“`The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity,` he wrote. `She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it.` These curvy jezebels pursued boys with `wide, strapping chest[s]` and `ox muscles,` Qutb added with disgust.”

Seems that Qutb is giving us a little more information than we need if he actually believes that all of this is true, no?  Is he enjoying this discussion a little too much?

Whitewashing the Fort Hood Shootings: Redux on Christian Terrorism

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 9 months ago

From the Weekly Standard:

While we should be thankful that various individuals at Fort Hood acted in a “prompt and courageous” manner thereby preventing “greater losses,” it should never have gotten to that point. The Defense Department’s system is not working if it is left to first responders to stop a terrorist. A traitor within the military’s ranks, with compromised loyalties that had been known about for years—as was the case with Hasan—should be stopped before his finger is on the trigger.

Therein lies the central problem with the Pentagon’s report. It says nothing of consequence about Hasan or how to stop individuals like him in the future. Hasan is not even named in the report, but instead referred to as the “alleged perpetrator.” The report’s authors contend that the sanctity of the criminal investigation into the shooting needs to be upheld. But this is not an excuse for failing to name the attacker. The whole world knows that Major Nidal Malik Hasan did it.

Nor is the ongoing criminal investigation a valid reason for avoiding a serious discussion of Hasan’s ideological disposition. The report’s authors instead go to lengths to whitewash Hasan’s beliefs.

The report lumps all sorts of deviant and problematic behaviors together as if they have the same relevance to the events of November 5. Thus, we find a discussion of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual violence, elder abuse, and the disgusting methods employed by child molesters. We also learn of the deleterious effects of events “such as divorce, loss of a job, or death of a loved one,” all of which “may trigger suicide in those who are already vulnerable.”

Was Major Nidal Malik Hasan a child molester, a drug addict, or suicidal because of a recent divorce? No. So what does any of this have to do with the attack at Fort Hood? Absolutely nothing.

What is relevant is Hasan’s religious and political beliefs. He is a jihadist, although you would never know it by reading the Pentagon’s report. Instead in the report’s “literature review of risk factors for violence,” one comes across this sentence:

Religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor; most fundamentalist groups are not violent, and religious-based violence is not confined to members of fundamentalist groups.

This is a true statement; it is also completely meaningless in respect to the Fort Hood massacre. The brand of religious fundamentalism practiced by Hasan is specifically devoted to violence.

This article by Thomas Joscelyn rehearses some of the things we discussed in Radicalized Christian Terrorism.  On a complex topic it’s easy to misunderstand truncated prose.  This is the kind of topic that is better carried out as a series of conversations.

A number of readers / commenters conflated boundary conditions.  This comment comes to us from Aristekrat:

I think it would certainly be fair to name any abortion bombing or killing as Christian terrorism. Admittedly, that is not near the problem that exists in Islam, but I disagree that is because Christianity is inherently peaceful and Islam is violent. At one time Christianity was not at all peaceful; surprisingly no one has mentioned the reformation and the wars of religion that lasted an extraordinarily long time, tore Europe apart, and were monstrously violent. That violence ultimately exhausted Europe and led to the Peace of Westphalia, the first harbinger of secularism. As secularism (and nationalism) ascended so religious violence in Europe dropped. Are you comfortable with the idea that the greater prevalence of religious violence in Islam might not be due to Islam being a more violent religion but because western civilization has embraced the (now) leftist doctrine of secularism and Islamic countries have not?

This is a very far reaching and broad comment and we will have to deal with aspects of it in later conversations.  Suffice it to say that the proposition that secularism is related to a reduction in violence is incorrect from my vantage point, and the author of the comment is advised to study the following two texts:

Carl Becker, The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers

Douglas F. Kelly, The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World: The Influence of Calvin on Five Governments from the 16th Through 18th Centuries

Any conversation on this that begins without these two texts as a backdrop is a waste of time.  So moving back to the issue of  “any abortion bombing or killing as Christian terrorism,” this is once again a conflation of issues, a confusion of boundary conditions for my thought experiment.

We absolutely must get definitions and boundaries right for the conversation to have a common language.  Without rehearsing the boundaries I laid down in the original article, let’s approach this from a different perspective, i.e., the perspective of Islamic terrorism.

A quick survey of my articles on Iraq and counterinsurgency shows without equivocation that I did not believe during the height of the insurgency, and do not believe now, that all insurgents in Iraq fought for religious motivation.  In fact, most of them didn’t.  To be sure, the several hundred per month who crossed the Syrian border coming from Somalia, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other locales, included many who did fight predominately for religious motivation.  But the indigenous insurgency primarily did not.

During Operation Alljah loud speakers were used by U.S. forces to address the public at Mosques, and even though this is a religious gathering, per se, I do not include this as religious-based insurgency or counterinsurgency.  The Mosques were targeted as being the center of public activity and philosophy.

Again, a survey of my posts reminds the reader of just how involved we have been in attempting to understand how to separate an indigenous insurgency – who fights for many reasons, including money, youthful exuberance, boredom, etc. – from the religiously- based leadership.

Not all shootings in Iraq were a result of jihad.  Nor have I categorized religious-on-religious violence (e.g., Shi’a on Sunni and vice versa) within the rubric of jihad or religiously-based violence.  My definitions were very specific, and included the notion that one believes that his specific religious views warranted propagation via violence or subjugation of unbelievers.

Wars of power, convenience, tribe, family, wealth-seeking, and so on, do not qualify under this rubric.  As for Islam, I have dealt with the competing hermeneutics within the Muslim world before by addressing stolid comments by Professor Steve Metz of the U.S. Army War College.  Feel free to go study them in some detail.

I am left in this thought experiment without any compelling evidence whatsoever that anyone can come up with a single example of Christian terrorism that meets my definition – a definition, by the way, that I have consistently applied to Islamic terrorism as well.

You may disagree, you may respond with fury and fist.  But what you cannot do is charge me with inconsistency.  I have treated both Islam and Christianity with the same standards.  In the mean time, I continue to be amused at the felt-need to legitimize moral-equivalency arguments, and even if you can find an example of Christian inspired terrorism, I have made you search hard.  The search is hard because Christian Biblical hermeneutics doesn’t support terrorism.

Taliban and al Qaeda Ideological Alignments

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 12 months ago

In Connection Between the Taliban and al Qaeda we discussed the first hand account by David Rohdes of the New York Times after he was kidnapped by the Afghan Taliban, transported to Pakistan, spent time among both Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, and then finally escaped some seven months later.  His experience, coupled with data we had previously cataloged and analyzed, is convincing and compelling evidence of the hardened and more extremist theological alignment of the Taliban, and thus of their alignment with transnational insurgents and global actors such as al Qaeda.

Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the organization as a form of “Al Qaeda lite,” a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.

Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.

But questions remain.  There are some (not identified in this article) that have weighed in saying that Rohdes is merely offering perspective or speculation, not facts.  There are others who have gone on record with analyses (parsing the Taliban into many different factions) that seems at the outset to cast doubt on Rohdes’ observations, at least, in a normative sense.  Myra MacDonald, for instance, outlines the main insurgent groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and weighs in questioning whether some of them share the global aspirations as al Qaeda.  In this same analysis she links Vahid Brown writing for Jihadica who even questions whether the Taliban and al Qaeda may be diametrically opposed.

Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban and al-Qa’ida’s senior leaders have been issuing some very mixed messages of late, and the online jihadi community is in an uproar, with some calling these developments “the beginning of the end of relations” between the two movements.  Beginning with a statement from Mullah Omar in September, the Afghan Taliban’s Quetta-based leadership has been emphasizing the “nationalist” character of their movement, and has sent several communications to Afghanistan’s neighbors expressing an intent to establish positive international relations.  In what are increasingly being viewed by the forums as direct rejoinders to these sentiments, recent messages from al-Qa’ida have pointedly rejected the “national” model of revolutionary Islamism and reiterated calls for jihad against Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Pakistan and China.  However interpreted, these conflicting signals raise serious questions about the notion of an al-Qa’ida-Taliban merger.

We covered the al Qaeda rejection of the nationalistic model for jihad in The Globalization of Jihad in Palestine, and there is no question that the infighting between insurgent groups can become deadly.  It’s this supposed rift between factions of the insurgency that the U.S. administration wants to exploit.

… the Obama administration has indicated that it intends to make a fresh attempt to engage more moderate Taliban groups in talks with the Afghan government – in a determined effort to woo at least some of them away from the fighting that is claiming increasing numbers of American and other Nato forces’ lives.

Mullah Mutawakkil, once a confidant of the one-eyed Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was held at a US base in Kandahar in 2002 after he gave himself up to American troops.

Now he is being politely wooed by a stream of senior US officials who make discreet visits to his villa, which is guarded by armed police, to hear his thoughts on what the Taliban mood is like and whether any of its leaders are ready for talks.

A soft-spoken and intelligent man who was one of the Taliban regime’s youngest ministers, Mullah Mutawakkil is cautious about what can be achieved, but even so his thinking is music to tired Western ears.

He believes that the Taliban would split from what he called their al-Qaeda “war allies” if a deal was within reach. Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph in the guest room of his Kabul home, he insisted that a settlement to end the war was possible – and that it would be the West’s best chance of stopping terrorists from turning Afghanistan back into their base again.

“If the Taliban fight on and finally became Afghanistan’s government with the help of al-Qaeda, it would then be very difficult to separate them,” he warned.

But there is, he says, another option. Taliban leaders are looking for guarantees of their personal safety from the US, and a removal of the “bounties” placed on the head of their top commanders. They also want a programme for the release of prisoners held at the notorious Bagram US air base in Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay.

In return, he says, the Taliban would promise not to allow Afghanistan to be used to plan attacks on America – the original reason for American invervention (sic), and the overriding aim of US policy in the region.

A Morton’s Fork to be sure.  Settle with Taliban who might bring back al Qaeda safe haven, or send more troops in what may prove to be an increasingly unpopular war.  But perhaps not.  Perhaps the choice is clearer.  Commenter Amm Sam at Jihadica offers a clear and unvarnished view of the debates between the globalists and the nationalists.

The Taliban’s statements of late have to be understood in the context of the US debate on what strategy to pursue in Afghanistan. Mullah Omar is trying to influence the debate by signaling to the Obama Administration that they aren’t a threat – but should we take Mullah Omar’s word for it? Of course not. If you look at the discourse of the Taliban, from spokesmen and commanders to the footsoldiers quoted in David Rhodes’ excellent 5-part NYT series, you see that the Taliban as a semi-coherent movement has drifted into the global jihadist perspective over the last several years. They are still primarily focused on the region, but less so now than ever.

Only now do we see this shift from Omar in the heat of Washington deliberations on Afghanistan.

In fact, the Haqqani group, the Taliban who held foreign al Qaeda fighters in such high esteem in the Rohdes account with the New York Times, is operationally allied with Mullah Omar who is said to be ready to jettison al Qaeda’s presence after a return to power.

Most violence in the province has been linked to the Haqqani network, which operates out of havens on both sides of the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border and has taken responsibility for dozens of attacks around Afghanistan.

The group was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who made his name as a leader of the Islamist uprising against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. More recently, the militants introduced the use of suicide bombings to Afghanistan.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son, said his fighters didn’t want to capture heavily populated areas because the operations would likely result in significant casualties among insurgents and civilians. Still, he made clear his group had no intention of abandoning its focus on Khost. “Every now and then we want to carry out coordinated group attacks,” he said.

An American military official who recently served in eastern Afghanistan said the U.S. had intercepted communications suggesting the Haqqani leadership was closely coordinating its activities in Khost with Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader, who is believed to be in Pakistan. “It’s a division of labor, with each group focusing on a different part of Afghanistan,” the official said.

The official said some U.S. intelligence officers suspect that the Haqqani leadership had offered to conquer Khost in exchange for a promise from Mullah Omar that the family would be allowed to rule large swaths of eastern Afghanistan if the armed group eventually retook control of the country.

And it’s now believed that the Taliban and / or al Qaeda are helping the Gaza insurgents to fabricate much more sophisticated bombs for use in their terrorist efforts.  The battles between certain factions of the Taliban and al Qaeda must be seen as internecine spats – as intramural struggles.  They don’t represent a terminus.  They are quite public debates over strategy and tactics rather than policy and doctrine.  It’s important not to conflate one with the other.  Believing that any faction of the Taliban would actually risk their lives to battle al Qaeda because of the former’s focus on the region and the focus of the later on the globe is not only unwise, it is profoundly bad logic.

As for David Rohdes, everything and everyone else takes second place (or less) to direct, first hand knowledge to someone who has been there and seen these things first hand.  Rohdes is now in the position of being a subject matter expert – perhaps the foremost and most knowledgeable one in the world.  Rejection of his analysis because it creates discomfort for one strategic option (i.e., separating the “good” Taliban from the bad) is paramount to rejection of the preeminent scholar in the field of study.  From his time with the Taliban, Rohdes has earned the equivalent of a Doctorate in Jihadist Islamic studies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Finally, the fact that certain jihadi web sites may be “abuzz” with emotion over a coming split between the Taliban and al Qaeda simply isn’t important.  It’s as irrelevant and insignificant as the silly and gross exaggerations of U.S. and NATO casualties inflicted by the Taliban at the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Voice of Jihad).


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