… sono dotato di stampante !
… sono dotato di stampante !
Sono monotematico, lo so.
Ma in compenso mi sto preparando ad una maratona di sesso, sesso ed ancora sesso per quando finirò ‘sta benedetta tesi di Master…
23 agosto 1996. La dichiarazione di Jihad di Bin Laden….
Ero da poco tornato dagli Stati Uniti. Vivevo immerso in un sogno….
… ho "incontrato" una data: il 2 agosto 1990.
L’invasione iraqena del Kuwait.
Mi son tornati alla mente tanti ricordi di quel periodo.
Era l’estate della maturità. Avevo appena finito il Liceo e quella fu, molto probabilmente, una delle più belle (e lunghe) estati della mia vita.
La soddisfazione di avere finito, di non dovermi preoccupare per lo studio. Avevo solo il "problema", direi ridicolo, di scegliere tra Giurisprudenza, Economia e Scienze Politiche… ma fu un problema da nulla… sapevo che già, in fondo, che mi sarei iscritto nella prima.
La libertà !!!
Ricordo che proprio in quei mesi nacque in me la passione per i pesi e per la California (…!!!).
Ricordo pure la mattina del 2 agosto.
La televisione che annunciava l’invasione.
La faccia di Bush in TV.
I notiziari dei giornalisti bloccati negli alberghi di Kuwait City.
… oggi ho studiato 18 ore e quasi ininterrottamente !!!!
… cosa scrivere !
Tranne che, in data odierna, mi sono alzato alle 6. Ho iniziato a studiare alle 6.45. Ho fatto una pausa di un’ora per andare in piscina.
Ho fatto una pausa di 15 minuti per pranzare e fino ad ora ho studiato senza sosta !!!
E stasera non ho intenzione di alzare il sedere dalla sedia fino a quando non ho terminato ‘sto benedetto capitolo !!!
The terrorist threat to the United States of America comes from a violent Islamist revivalist social movement, united by a utopian vision of justice and fairness. Our efforts to deal with this threat are hampered by the wide variety of commonly held beliefs about terrorism. Conventional wisdom offers up several explanations: terrorists are a product of poverty and broken families; ignorance; the lack of skills and opportunities; thelack of occupational or family responsibilities; weak-mindedness and vulnerability to brainwashing; mental illness, psychopathy or sociopathy; plain criminality; religious fanaticism; or simply evil. My current study attempts to empirically test this conventional wisdom through the accumulation and analysis of biographical data on real terrorists who have sought to harm the United States.
Traditionally, the study of terrorism has been hampered by attempts to define terrorism. Indeed, a common quip is that one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. So, my first task was to identify whom to include in this sample. My study was interested only in those terrorists connected to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, it has excluded other terrorists such as the Palestinians or the Tamil Tigers—who are often lumped together, but who are not specifically linked to the anti-American perpetrators of 9/11. In order to delineate who belongs in my sample, it was necessary to define the threat to the United States.
The terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and crashed into the fields of Pennsylvania on 9/11 were part of al Qaeda. The term al Qaeda is confusing, because it refers both to a specific organization and to a more diffuse and global social movement at war with the United States. The formal al Qaeda organization is the vanguard of this violent Islamist revivalist social movement. But I chose to include in my sample people who belong to this terrorist social movement, which I called the global Salafi jihad, because many of the terrorists are not formally in al Qaeda—in the sense of swearing an oath of loyalty to Osama bin Laden, its leader—but they are nevertheless fellow travelers with them. In order to define who belongs to this social movement, it is important to understand its nature.
The terrorist social movement is held together by a common vision. This arose in the context of gradual Muslim decadence over the past five hundred years, during which Islam fell from its dominant position in the world. Because Islam claims to be the last and perfect revelation from God, this decline presents a problem. Many explanations, secular and religious, have tried to deal with this obvious mismatch between claim and reality. One of the more popular religious explanations is simply that Muslims have strayed from the righteous path. The source of strength of the original and righteous Muslim community was its faith and its practices, which pleased God. Recapturing the glory and grandeur of the Golden Age requires a return to the authentic faith of the ancient ones—namely the Prophet Mohammed and his companions, the Salaf, from the Arabic word for predecessor or ancient one. The revivalist versions of Islam advocating such a return are called Salafi. Their strategy is the creation of a pure Islamist state, which would create the conditions for the reestablishment of such a community.
Most Salafists advocate a peaceful takeover of the state, either through face-to-face proselytism or the creation of legitimate political parties. Their peaceful strategy was undermined by President Nasser’s brutal crackdown in the name of a pan-Arabist socialist project. Some Islamists like Sayyid Qutb concluded that Nasser would never give up power peacefully, and preached his violent overthrow. He argued that Muslim countries had reached a state of decadence, injustice and unfairness, which was similar to the state of barbarism, jahiliyya, prevailing in the Arabian Peninsula just before the revelations of the Quran. This was due to a “crisis of values,” namely greed, corruption and promiscuity, which could only be redressed from above, by capturing the state. Because their rulers were accused of having abandoned true Islam, they were branded apostates, and the Quranic punishment for apostasy was death. Mohammad Abdal Salam Faraj further claimed that the violent overthrow of these rulers, the “near enemy,” was the forgotten duty of each Muslim, a sixth pillar of Islam.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan internationalized the militant Islamist movement. Sheikh Abdallah Azzam preached a traditional jihad against the Soviet invaders. Many militants from all over the Muslim world answered his call. As the Soviets withdrew, Azzam extended the defensive jihad into a more global one. He preached that all former Muslim lands dating back to the fifteenth century, from the Philippines to Spain, had to be liberated from the infidels. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, these militants focused on the other lands under infidel occupation. They gathered in the Sudan where they held intense discussions about their failure to capture a core Arab state and transform it into an Islamist state. Some militants, led by Osama bin Laden, argued that this failure was due to the United States propping up the local regimes.
The strategy that the most militant advocated was to switch priorities and fight the “far enemy”—the United States and Jews—in order to expel them from the Middle East, so that they could overthrow the “near enemy”, their own regimes. This argument split the Islamist militant community, for many did not want to take on and provoke a powerful enemy like the United States. But Osama bin Laden and his followers returned to Afghanistan and declared war on the United States. In February 1998, bin Laden extended his “Jihad against Jews and Crusaders” to civilians outside the Middle East, ruling that “to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”
With the evolution of this ideology and social movement in mind, it becomes possible to select the terrorists that belong in this sample: They are those who use violence against any foreign or non-Muslim government or population (the “far enemy”) to establish an Islamist state in a core Arab region.
The immediate historical roots of the present terrorist Islamist revivalist social movement go back to Egypt in the 1970s—when President Anwar al-Sadat encouraged the formation of Islamic Societies at the universities to counter the leftist supporters of Nasser. Some of these militants adopted the radical views of Qutb and Faraj and turned against Sadat himself when he made peace with Israel. They were responsible for his assassination in 1981. Most of these militants were arrested and tortured in a crackdown after Sadat’s assassination. Those not directly involved were released three years later, and found their way to Afghanistan in support of Sheikh Azzam’s jihad against the Soviets.
The presence in Afghanistan and Peshawar of so many Islamist militants from all over the world transformed the jihad—from a collection of local attempts to overthrow their governments to a more international movement reclaiming former Muslim lands lost to the infidels over the past five centuries. After their victory in Afghanistan, most of the foreigners returned to their home countries. But those who could not, mostly because of prior terrorist activities at home, stayed behind and became the nucleus of al Qaeda, the organization.
After many Middle Eastern countries complained to Pakistan that it was harboring terrorists, Pakistan expelled them. The most militant went to the Sudan, invited by the new militant regime of Hassan al-Turabi, who tried to unify the disparate local Islamist terrorist movements under one umbrella. His greatest supporter in this enterprise was Osama bin Laden, who set up camps in the Sudan and Afghanistan for the training of terrorists coming from the whole world. During this Sudanese episode, the most militant terrorists switched priorities to target a common enemy, the United States.
The imposition of international sanctions on the Sudan after it supported a serious assassination attempt on Egyptian President Mubarak during a state visit in Addis Ababa forced the Sudan to expel the terrorists. The few who agreed with bin Laden’s strategy of going after the “far enemy” returned to Afghanistan, and within two months of their arrival, declared war on the United States. So the threat to the United States came from a process of self selection—in which the most militant of the most militant of the most militant switched their targets from their own governments to the United States.
Their return to Afghanistan heralded the start of a close collaboration with the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who provided sanctuary to the now-global Salafi jihad. This allowed Osama bin Laden to gain control over this social movement through his monopoly on training and funding support for the various local Islamist terrorist groups scattered around the world. This gave the appearance of a hierarchical organization, with al Qaeda (Osama bin Laden’s organization) at the top with strong command and control over the whole movement. During the five years leading to 9/11, this was mostly true—as bin Laden and his lieutenants provided training for local Islamist terrorists, housed them and their families in protected areas in Afghanistan, supported them with logistics and funds, and gave advice on their operations. In a real sense, for about five years, Osama bin Laden achieved in Afghanistan what Turabi had tried to do in the Sudan.
The U.S. reaction to the 9/11 terrorist operation changed the movement. The elimination of sanctuaries in Afghanistan, the destruction of the training camps and the disruption of the financial “golden chain” for the jihad undermined bin Laden’s and al Qaeda’s control over the social movement, which degraded back into smaller local networks of operatives, now linked through the Internet. To the extent that these smaller clusters of terrorists respond to the Salafi vision and general guidance from al Qaeda, they are still part of this global Salafi jihad. But there is no more need for a strong command and control structure. Now, this social movement is self generated from below, very similar in structure and behavior to the World Wide Web itself, which shows that there is no need for top down control for the network to grow and prosper.
My present study is based on the collection of biographical details of people who belong to this global Salafi jihad. There is a paralyzing assumption in terrorism research that there is no good data for research, based on three presumptions:
This has prevented the emergence of evidence-based terrorism research. However, with the development of the Internet, open source data has become more available—even in one’s home. Indeed, all the data collected for this study came from the public domain. I did not have direct access to the terrorists or to any government’s secret reports. But despite the problems listed above, I found there is enough information in open sources to support an empirical analysis of the global Salafi jihad.
My sources included the documents and transcripts of legal proceedings involving global Salafi terrorists and their organizations; government documents; press and scholarly articles; and Internet articles. The information was often inconsistent, so I considered the source of the information when assessing facts. In decreasing degrees of reliability, I favored transcripts of court proceedings subject to cross examination; government documents such as the 9/11 Commission Report; reports of court proceedings; corroborated information from people with direct access to the information provided; uncorroborated statements from people with direct access to the information provided; and, finally, statements from people who had heard information secondhand. “Experts” fall into the last category—for their reliability as sources of information depends on their diligence as historians.
The collected information suffers from several limitations:
Nevertheless, the hope is that even though each piece of information may be of questionable validity, the emerging pattern would be accurate given the large numbers involved. A description of the potential sample might be able to support or refute the conventional wisdom about al Qaeda terrorism. Using the definition of a terrorist elaborated in the previous section, I was able to identify 394 terrorists—on whom there existed enough background information to include them in empirical generalizations as to age, origin, religious commitment, and education. I was able to codify them into a matrix with 34 variables, most of which dealt with their relationships to each other and are not relevant to this Strategic Insight .
As mentioned above, the common stereotype is that terrorism is a product of poor, desperate, naïve, single young men from Third World counties, vulnerable to brainwashing and recruitment into terror. Unpacking this formula, the geographical origins of the mujahedin should be not only the Third World, but some of the poorest countries of the Third World. It also implies that they come from the lowest socio-economic strata. Their naïve vulnerability implies that they either are brainwashed early into hatred of the West, or are relatively uneducated and susceptible to such brainwashing as young adults. In this sense, they are relatively unsophisticated and local in their outlook. A broad experience of the world might be protective against the alleged brainwashing that presumably led to their conversion to terrorism. The desperation implies that their occupational opportunities are extremely limited. They are single, for any strong family responsibilities might prevent their total dedication to a cause that demands their ultimate sacrifice.
But in fact, most of the global Salafi terrorists come from core Arab countries, immigrant communities in the West, Indonesia or Malaysia. They do not come from the poorest countries in the world, including Afghanistan. Surprisingly, there are no Afghans in my sample. In terms of socio-economic background, three-fourths come from upper and middle class families. Far from coming from broken families, they grew up in caring, intact families, and were mildly religious and concerned about their communities. In terms of education, over 60% have some college education. Most are in the technical fields, such as engineering, architecture, computers, medicine, and business. This is all the more remarkable because college education is still relatively uncommon in the countries or immigrant communities they come from. Far from being immature teenagers, the men in my sample joined the terrorist organization at an average age of 26.
Most of the terrorists have some occupational skills. Three-fourths are either professional (physicians, lawyers, architects, engineers, or teachers) or semi-professionals (businessmen, craftsmen, or computer specialists). They are solidly anchored in family responsibilities. Three-fourths are married and the majority have children. There was no indication of weak minds brainwashed by their family or education. About half of the sample grew up as religious children, but only 13% of the sample, almost all of them in Southeast Asia, were madrassa educated. The entire sample from the North African region and the second generation Europeans went to secular schools. About ten percent were Catholic converts to Islam, who could not have been brainwashed into Islam as children.
Another popular set of explanations of terrorism centers on mental illness or innate criminality. Such popular explanations are based on the belief that “normal” people do not kill civilians indiscriminately. Such killing, especially when combined with suicide, is viewed as irrational. The mental illness thesis is dealt a strong blow by the fact that only one percent of the sample had hints of a thought disorder, which is below the base rate for thought disorder worldwide. A variant of the abnormality thesis is that terrorists are sociopaths, psychopaths, or people with antisocial personality disorders. These terms are used to mean that terrorists are recidivist criminals, due to some defect of personality. Such recidivism implies that this personality defect had some antecedents in childhood. Out of the third of my sample where I had some fragment of childhood data, less than eight percent showed evidence of a conduct disorder. The rest of this group seems to have had normal childhood without any evidence of getting in trouble with the law.
On a logical basis, although antisocial people might become individual terrorists, they would not do well in a terrorist organization. Because of their personalities, they would not get along with others or fit well in an organization, and indeed would be least likely to join any organization that would demand great sacrifices from them. They would be weeded out early if they attempted to join. Likewise, very few people in my sample had any criminal background. Those who did came from the excluded North African immigrant community in Europe and Canada, where they resorted to petty crime to survive. But there were no previously violent criminals in this sample. Therefore, it is more parsimonious to argue that in an organized operation demanding great personal sacrifice, those least likely to do any harm individually are best able to do so collectively.
The failure of mental illness as an explanation for terrorism is consistent with three decades of research that has been unable to detect any significant pattern of mental illness in terrorists. Indeed, these studies have indicated that terrorists are surprisingly normal in terms of mental health.
The above findings refute the conventional wisdom about terrorists. The global Salafi terrorists were generally middle-class, educated young men from caring and religious families, who grew up with strong positive values of religion, spirituality, and concern for their communities. They were truly global citizens, conversant in three or four languages, and skilled in computer technology. One of the striking findings of this sample is that three-fourths of the terrorists joined the jihad as expatriates, mostly as upwardly mobile young men studying abroad. At the time, they were separated from their original environment. An additional ten percent were second generation in the West, who felt a strong pull for the country of their parents. So a remarkable 84% were literally cut off from their culture and social origins. They were homesick, lonely, and alienated. Although they were intellectually gifted, they were marginalized, underemployed and generally excluded from the highest status in the new society.
Although they were not religious, they drifted to mosques for companionship. There, they met friends or relatives, with whom they moved in together often for dietary reasons. As their friendship intensified, they became a “bunch of guys,” resenting society at large, which excluded them, developing a common religious collective identity, and egging themselves on to greater extremism. By the time they joined the jihad, there was a dramatic shift in devotion to their faith. About two-thirds of those who joined the jihad did so collectively with their friends or had a long time childhood friend already in the jihad. Another fifth had close relatives already in the jihad. These friendship or kinship bonds predated any ideological commitment. Once inside the social movement, they cemented their mutual bonds by marrying sisters and daughters of other terrorists. There was no evidence of “brainwashing”—the future terrorists simply acquired the beliefs of their friends.
Joining this violent social movement was a bottom-up activity. Al Qaeda had no top-down formal recruitment program. There was neither a central committee with a budget dedicated to recruitment nor any general campaign of recruitment. There was no need for either. There were plenty of volunteers who wanted to join the jihad. Al Qaeda’s problem was never recruitment but selection. It was akin to applying to a very selective college. Many apply but few are accepted. Likewise, al Qaeda was able to assess and evaluate potential candidates who showed a desire to join by coming to Afghanistan for training. It invited only about 15 to 25 percent of that group to join the jihad. However, this reliance on self-recruits had a drawback: namely gaps in the distribution of the jihad. One of these gaps was the United States.
The few volunteers from the United States who came to Afghanistan to join the jihad were shocked by the anti-Americanism in the training camps, which was based on beliefs and ideas about the United States that they knew from personal experience to be false. Some, like the Lackawanna Six, tried to leave early or simply forget about their experience. Because of this gap, al Qaeda had to import terrorists from elsewhere to wage their war on U.S. soil. This was easier to do before 9/11 when there was easy access for Saudi citizens. But since 9/11, the United States has hardened the entry to the country, and increased its vigilance against suspicious foreign activities—making such operations much more difficult. The lack of an indigenous terrorist population (“sleeper cells”) and the hardening of the U.S. target account for the lack of major al Qaeda operations in the United States since 9/11. In contrast, most of the global Salafi jihad operations conducted elsewhere in the world after 9/11 relied heavily on indigenous global Salafi terrorists.
The process just described is grounded in social relations and dynamics. To look at it through individual lenses, as a Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island narrative, is to miss the fundamental social nature of this process. And this is where women play a critical role. So far, the account of the global Salafi jihad seems to be a pure male story of heroic warriors fighting the evil West. Yet women also play a critical role in this process. They provide the invisible infrastructure of the jihad. As influential parts of the social environment, they often encourage their relatives and friends to join the jihad. Many Christian converts or secular Muslims joined because of marriage to a committed wife. Indeed, invitation to join the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah depends on the background of the spouse of the applicant. And once in the jihad, single members often solidify their participation by marrying the sisters of other members. This further separates the new recruit from the rest of society and increases his loyalty to the social movement.
So far, this account has neglected the religious ideological contribution to the transformation of alienated young Muslims into fanatical terrorists. The specific interpretation of Islam that promoted this violent strategy with respect to the United States played a crucial role in this transformation. It provided the script to follow for these distressed cliques of men. But very few mosques worldwide preached this aberrant strategy to transform society using the utopian Salafi community as a model. Indeed, about ten mosques worldwide generated about 50 percent of my sample. This is a very small number, suggesting that the global Salafi jihad is a small collection of localized networks of people, rather than a more widely and randomly distributed one.
This script, stressing the justice and fairness of the original Muslim community, appeals to gifted young men who are excluded from the higher rewards of society. Combined with natural group processes, it transforms their values to conform to those of their ever closer friends. Faith and commitment are grounded and sustained in intense small group dynamics as friends and peers provide support and strength to help cope with any potential hardship. These born again believers welcome struggles in this life as a test of their faith. Over time, “authentic” Islamic spirituality and religious growth replace dominant “Western” values of career advancement and material wealth, which had contributed to their original feelings of exclusion, frustration, unfairness and injustice. They embrace Qutb’s diagnosis that society faces a “crisis of values,” for its main problems are not material but spiritual. The progressive detachment from the pursuit of material needs allows them to transcend their realistically frustrated aspirations, and promotes satisfaction with spiritual goals more consistent with their limited resources and opportunities—relieving the malaise arising from their exclusion and marginalized status. Their sacrifice and participation in this Islamist vanguard provide them with a sense of moral superiority, optimism and faith in the collective future. Their activism and firm belief in the righteousness of their mission generate a sense of efficacy that enables them to overcome the apathy and fear that would otherwise inhibit high risk terrorist operations.
Over time, there is a general shift in values: from the secular to the religious; from the material to the spiritual; from short-term opportunity to long-term vision; from individual concerns to communitarian sacrifice; from apathy to active engagement; from traditional morality to specific group morality; and from worldly gains to otherworldly rewards. This transformation is possible only within intense small group face-to-face interactions. The values and fellowship of these groups not only forge intense bonds of loyalty and a collective identity, but also give a glimpse of what a righteous Islamist society could be like. The small size of these cliques and the mutual dedication of their members allow them to spontaneously resolve their problems among themselves. The quality of these small and dense networks promotes in-group love, transforming self-interest into self-sacrifice for the cause and comrades. The militants’ experience in these groups deludes them into believing that social problems would also be spontaneously resolved in a righteous Islamist society, accounting for their curious lack of concern about what this ideal society would actually look like or how it might function politically or economically.
On a less positive perspective, these same group dynamics account for their hatred of Jews and the United States, as illustrated from the police wiretaps of their apartments in Montreal, Hamburg and Milan. This hatred is grounded in their everyday experience of humiliating exclusion from society at large and promoted within the group by a vicious process of one-upmanship of mutual complaints about the alienating society. This “bunch of guys” phenomenon escalates resentment into a hatred and rejection of the ambient society itself. They expressed their hatred by cursing its symbols and legitimizing myths and by endorsing a conspiracy theory of Jews corrupting a now totally degenerate and unredeemable society. The wiretaps give a hint of this visceral hatred that seeks to destroy society even at the cost of their own lives. This virulent rejection of society finds a home in the doctrine of takfir or excommunication of society, which is popular in militant circles and sanctions the commission of crimes against infidels in the pursuit of the jihad.
This trajectory from low-risk participation with an increasingly closer set of friends, to medium-risk proselytism for an ideal way of life, to high-risk terrorist activities is a progressive and insidious one. This progression embraces an ideology that frames activism as a moral obligation demanding self-sacrifice and unflinching commitment to the jihad. This particular interpretation of Islam stands apart in challenging the validity of mainstream Islamic faith and practices, and it isolates the new adherents to this doctrine. Their self sacrifice is again grounded in group dynamics. The terrorist is ready to show his devotion to his now exclusive friends, their group, and their cause by seeking death as a way to show his devotion to all of them. In-group love combined with out-group hate is a strong incentive for committing mass murder and suicide.
The above analysis suggests that this form of terrorism is an emergent quality of dense networks rather than an aberration based in individual pathology. Doing a qualitative social network analysis on this sample generates statements that simply cannot be generated from a more individualistic perspective.
The topology of the network representing the interpersonal links in the global Salafi jihad is divided into four major clusters of terrorists that evolved individually into four different structures. There are many links between members within a specific cluster, but very few spanning two large clusters. At the center is the Central Staff cluster, which used to connect to the rest of the clusters before the United States’ fall 2001 campaign against al Qaeda dramatically interfered with its communication to the social movement, and broke its operational links to the other clusters. This Central Staff consists mostly of Egyptian Islamist militants who were released from prison after Sadat’s assassination and who went to Afghanistan to join the jihad against the Soviets.
They formalized their bonds of friendship and kinship into al Qaeda proper after the Soviets announced their intention to withdraw. They provide the leadership, training and ideological guidance to the movement. The structure of this cluster is difficult to describe, as most of their relationships date back to the 1970s in Egypt. It is both an informal self-organizing group of friends forged during their militant activities in Egypt and during their fight against the Soviets, and a hierarchical organization with bin Laden as its emir—supported by a shura composed of about a dozen members and dominated by Egyptians. The al Qaeda staff is divided into four committees, consisting of finances, military affairs, religious affairs, and public relations.
A second cluster consists of the Southeast Asian part of the social movement, dominated by the Jemaah Islamiyah, which is hierarchically organized around the leadership of Abu Bakar Baasyir. This cluster evolved out of the recruitment of Baasyir’s students at his two schools, Pondok Ngruki in Indonesia and Pesentren Luqmanul Hakiem in Malaysia. As would be expected from top-down recruitment of former disciples, this cluster looks like a rigid pyramid, where all the significant decisions are taken at the top and showing very little local initiative. This cluster is vulnerable to decapitation if the political will to destroy this cluster existed. This cluster has been mostly eliminated in Malaysia through aggressive government counter-terrorist action but still exists in Indonesia due to internal political reasons. This type of structure may also promote splinter group formation in the future, as has been the case in the Philippines.
The other two clusters constitute the great majority of the global Salafi terrorist social movement. They consist of Core Arabs coming out of Core Arab countries from the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan and Egypt; and Maghreb Arabs coming out of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco and their expatriate communities, mostly in France. These clusters organized themselves spontaneously around local charismatic members, often in the vicinity of very radical Salafi mosques. This preferential attachment to the jihad resulted in a small world or cellular structure, which is decentralized with much local initiative and flexibility. As such, it is very robust, resistant against random attacks such as random arrests of its members or decapitation of its leadership.
This small world structure provided for rapid diffusion of terrorist innovation through popular social hubs and provided for flexible communication in all directions, rather than slow and vulnerable vertical communications required in strict hierarchical organizations. This communicative flexibility, based on pre-existing social bonds (kinship, friendship and later informal cliques), was a major contributing factor in the successful execution of terrorist operations. These informal communications bypassed the various rules of tradecraft advocated in the terrorist manuals, which reflected a more theoretical orientation to operational security, based on the “need to know” principle. This principle implies a hierarchical topology, with strict vertical communication. Such a communicative topology would ensure the failure of any operation because it would flood the vertical links of communication and prevent people in the field from talking to each other to overcome the inevitable obstacles arising in the field during the execution of a terrorist operation. Informal communications among intimates who knew each other, often from birth, and bypassed this security regulation violated this rule of tradecraft.
This explains an apparent inconsistency found when comparing the actual execution of global Salafi terrorist operations to policies found in their manuals. The execution of their operations was characterized by very poor tradecraft on the part of the terrorists—leaving behind documents which would immediately identify them, not using aliases but real names, using their personal phones when they knew they could be monitored, and so on. Paradoxically, it is this poor use of tradecraft that made their success possible, especially when the authorities were not paying attention to the threat. In the new post-9/11 environment, this poor tradecraft makes their detection possible and hampers their operation.
After the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan eliminated al Qaeda command and control, this social movement reverted back to its original morphology. Now, its boundaries have become very fuzzy. These new terrorists no longer formally belong to a terrorist organization. They are often a “bunch of guys” inspired by al Qaeda messages on the Internet. There is no fixed number of terrorists. The pool of potential terrorists fluctuates according to local grievances and the world situation. Activated cliques of militant friends swarm together for a specific operation. They do not respond to central command and control anymore, but are self-organizing from the bottom up, fueled by local initiative. Like the Internet, they function very well with little coordination from the top.
Gaps in the network don’t last long, but become opportunities for the most aggressive to step up and fill the voids created by the elimination of the old leadership. While the old leadership has been gradually eliminated through death and capture, a complete new leadership has been reconstituted, different from the old one. Aggressive new leaders, lacking the training and support of their predecessors, conduct more frequent, reckless and hurried operations. Often, the time between conception and final execution of the operation is just weeks, not years as was true before the 9/11 operation. The difficulty of communication between the central staff and these local groups has degraded the ability of the social movement to mount operations with the same degree of sophistication and coordination of 9/11 hijacking and 1998 East African embassies bombings. The wave of future terrorist operations will be similar in scale and execution to the bombings in Saudi Arabia, Casablanca, Istanbul and Madrid.
The distribution of the global Salafi jihad is based on the presence of militant mosques preaching the specific script advocating violence against Western civilians. This script interprets U.S. foreign political action, and transforms local grievances into global ones. Groups of friends, who had no or very distant previous connection to the movement, may elect to answer these exhortations for violence and carry out terrorist operations. This makes them very difficult to detect beforehand, for the first indication of their participation in the jihad might very well be the successful execution of their operation. This has been the scenario in Casablanca, Istanbul and Madrid.
The global Salafi jihad is a unique terrorist social movement. Traditionally, terrorist organizations consist of people from A, living in country A and attacking the government of country A. The global Salafi jihad consists of people from country A, living in country B and targeting country C. This imparts a very different dynamic to this terrorist social movement as opposed to more traditional ones. One of the major differences is that because the terrorists are completely disconnected from their target, they are not socially embedded in the society they target, as is the case of more traditional terrorist organizations. This embeddedness refers to the rich nexus of social and economic linkage between the terrorists and the society they live in.
These multiple bonds act as a limit to the damages the terrorists can bring to their environment. The lack of such bonds frees them from these responsibilities and local concerns. Unrestrained by any responsibility to their target, this free-floating network is free to follow the logic of its abstract ideology and escalate the scale of terror, culminating in the 9/11 operations. This lack of embeddedness in the target society makes possible a strategy of vast devastation and damages against the target, including the use of weapons of mass destruction, which more traditional terrorists would avoid in order not to destroy their own society. This makes the global Salafi jihad especially dangerous to the United States and its allies.
New information technology has made the global Salafi jihad possible. Prior to the 1991 Sudanese exile, Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants could not have led this social movement from the remoteness of Afghanistan. By the time he returned in 1996, technology had solved his communication problems. Satellite telephones allowed him to speak extensively with his followers in Yemen, England and Saudi Arabia; facsimiles carried his press releases to his London public relations firm; and laptops and e-mail made quick and extensive communication possible. The Internet also had a strong impact on the new, more sophisticated recruits by diffusing the violent Salafi message of the jihad, bypassing traditional imams. Since most of these computer savvy recruits had little prior religious training, they were most vulnerable to the appeal of such sites that encouraged a very aberrant interpretation of Islam and rejected traditional interpretations of Islam. The more traditional religious teachers simply could not compete with the more sophisticated militant websites, which did not require much knowledge in religion but a great deal of technical knowledge. The egalitarianism of chat-rooms on these sites also fostered a feeling of unity with other members, creating a virtual Muslim community on the Web, sustaining and encouraging extreme interpretation of the Quran and world events.
The vulnerability of the new electronic devices to interception has given the Internet more prominence in the global Salafi jihad. After the 1998 embassies bombings, bin Laden discovered through a media leak that the United States was monitoring his satellite phone conversations. He abandoned its use and communicated with his followers via his lieutenants. The post-9/11 crackdown further eroded his ability to communicate with their subordinates in the field. The old al Qaeda leadership started using Islamist websites on the Internet as indirect means of communication. This allows it to continue to provide general guidance even if it no longer exerts direct command and control over operations. For instance, it appears that the Madrid bombings were inspired by a document anonymously posted on the Internet advocating the use of bombs just before the Spanish election in order to influence the government to withdraw its troops from Iraq. In the future, this trend will continue and the leadership of the global Salafi jihad will rely more and more on the Internet to broadcast its message and to discuss tactics, as is already done in the proliferating virtual magazines. Since it is difficult to detect people who read these postings, identification of future terrorists will become even more difficult.
The global Salafi jihad has now become a fuzzy idea-based network, self-organizing from below, inspired by postings on the Internet. It will expand spontaneously from below according to international political developments, without coordination from above, except for general and blind guidance. From a counter-terrorist perspective, such a loose and ill-defined network does not present hard targets for military options. More subtle methods should be used to disrupt the formation of these networks by changing the social conditions promoting them, and challenging the ideas encouraging their mobilization for the United States to address the ideology uniting this social movement. This is something that the American public is loath to do as it believes in transparency, namely that the facts speak for themselves.
Any attempt to engage in a war of ideas raises the specter of disinformation or propaganda. But the United States cannot afford to concede this ideological war, waged on the battlefield of interpretations, to the militant Islamists. It needs to develop a coherent and comprehensive strategy to deal with this new and unique threat. This involves discrediting the legitimacy of the leaders and the ideology behind the global Salafi jihad and replacing it with an inspiring vision of a just and fair partnership with Islam. Unfortunately, the United States is poorly set up to wage such a war. Our free media broadcasts statements targeted for domestic consumption which angers international audiences, for in politics the domestic agenda will always trump foreign concerns.
Such an ideological war would also require the United States to regain the credibility that it has lost in the Muslim world in the past four years because of its lack of evenhandedness in the Israeli-Palestinian problem, its invasion of Iraq on false premises, and its support of repressive Muslim regimes. U.S. words, public diplomacy, would need to be matched with deeds to regain this lost trust and credibility. Otherwise, any statement, no matter how laudable, would simply be dismissed as hypocritical and further encourage the spread of the global Salafi jihad.
Marc Sageman is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating from Harvard, he obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in sociology from New York University. After a tour as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Navy, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1984. He spent a year on the Afghan Task Force, then went to Islamabad from 1987 to 1989, where he ran the U.S. unilateral programs with the Afghan Mujahedin. In 1991, he resigned from the agency to return to medicine. He completed a residency in psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1994, he has been in the private practice of forensic and clinical psychiatry, and has had the opportunity to evaluate around 500 murderers. After 9/11, he started collecting biographical material on about 400 al Qaeda terrorists to test the validity of the conventional wisdom on terrorism. This research has been published as Understanding Terror Networks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). Sageman has testified before the 9/11 Commission and serves as a consultant on terrorism to various government agencies.
1. Sageman, Marc, Understanding Terror Networks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.)
2. Qutb, Sayyid, Milestones (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Mother Mosque Foundation, n.d.)
3. Faraj, Muhammad Abd al-Salam, "Al-Faridah al Ghaibah," in Johannes Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat’s Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East (New York: Macmillan, 1986, 159-234.)
4. Bin Laden, Osama, Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places. Published in al-Quds al-Arabi (London, 1996) on August 23.
5. Bin Laden, Osama, et al., Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, dated February 23, 1998.
6. Silke, Andrew, “Cheshire-Cat Logic: The Recurring Theme of Terrorist Abnormality in Psychological Research,” Psychology, Crime and Law, 4: 51-69, 1998; and Silke, Andrew, ed., Terrorists, Victims and Society: Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and its Consequences (Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.)
Praticamente ho studiato ininterrottamente dalle 6 di stamattina… !
Ho la schiena a pezzi.
Domani mattina mi butto in piscina per un’ora…. e poi vado a studiare in spiaggia… !!
‘Notte a tutti !!!
On March 19, the second anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, a 38-year-old Egyptian computer expert detonated his explosives-laden Land Cruiser inside the compound wall of the Players Theater in the Farij Kulaib neighborhood in Doha, Qatar, setting off a massive explosion that killed one British national and wounded twelve other attendees of the play. The name of the group that claimed responsibility for the bombing was Jund as-Sham, “Soldiers of the Levant.”
This little-known organization first surfaced on the global terrorism scene in 1995 as a splinter from the Palestinian terrorist group Asbat al-Ansar (“League of the Followers”), a small, salafi-inspired network loosely affiliated with Al-Qaeda and based in the Ayn al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon, in southern Lebanon. Following a string of assassinations of Lebanese religious leaders and small-scale bombings in the early 1990s, the group split into three factions: Asbat al-Nour, Jama‘at al-Nur and Jund as-Sham, the latter retaining only a small part (no more than thirty) of the group’s original members and operational capabilities.
According to Jordanian government sources and European intelligence documents, Jund as-Sham and many of its members then resurfaced in Afghanistan in 1999, when the group was given $200,000 of Al-Qaeda’s money and placed by one of Osama bin Laden’s key lieutenants, Abu Zubaydah, now in U.S. custody, under the command of fellow Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. While the relationship between the Lebanese Jund as-Sham and its “Afghan branch” is still unclear, Jordanian security sources claimed in 2004 that the group’s name was displayed on a large banner at the entrance of Zarqawi’s Al-Matar training facility near the Afghan city of Herat. German intelligence has determined that this organization was not the only one being trained at the camp: Zarqawi’s own groups, Al-Tawhid wal Jihad and Bayt al-Imam were also present, federating the efforts of Zarqawi’s small band of associates from Jordan with a patchwork of Al-Qaeda recruits from Europe and the Middle East.
Zubaydah’s idea was to build Jund as-Sham as an Al-Qaeda affiliate, while broadening its activities to the entire Levant (Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) where Al-Qaeda’s presence was deemed too feeble. Placed under Zarqawi’s direct command and operating autonomously from Al-Qaeda, Jund as-Sham federated about 150 jihadis, including Palestinian refugees from Jordan, as well as various recruits from Syria (holdouts of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood), Egypt (members and sympathizers of the Takfir wa Hijra group), and Lebanon (about two dozen holdovers from Asbar al-Ansar).
Under Zarqawi’s close supervision, these militants were trained in explosives, counter-intelligence, passport forgery, guerrilla warfare and chemical weapons production by an “Abu Qassam” at the Al-Matar camp. Jund as-Sham and Al-Tawhid’s stated objectives, according to Jordanian security sources, were a combination of Zarqawi’s obsessions (destabilizing the Hashemite monarchy) and Bin Laden’s ambitions (conducting major terrorist operations in Israel), a far cry from the group’s original focus on Lebanon. From Herat and Kabul, where Zarqawi’s organizations had their headquarters, Jund as-Sham started planning several operations, including the “Millennium Bombings” that would occur in Jordan in late December 1999. These plots were fortunately uncovered by the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate, which had sent its own “recruits” to join Zarqawi in Afghanistan in 1999. After 9/11 and the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, Jund as-Sham and Al-Tawhid were presumed disbanded. Most of their members, including Zarqawi himself, fled through Pakistan and Iran to Europe, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon.
Yet, both organizations survived in 2002–03 with help from Zubaydah’s financial and logistical networks in Europe, Jordan and Syria, as well as individual or institutional “donors” in the Gulf and Iran. Indeed, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Afghan terrorist “mogul” and then-protégé of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds corps, provided extensive help to Zarqawi during their contacts at the former’s farmhouse near Tehran between December 2001 and January 2002.
As a result, in summer 2002, according to Jordanian court documents, Jund as-Sham (under Zarqawi’s command) organized a second plot to attack Western and Jewish targets in Jordan and began training a small cell at a facility in Syria. On October 28, 2002, the group staged its first strike, killing U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman, Jordan. The same documents allege that Foley’s assassins met with Zarqawi in Syria and received money for the operation from his network in Iraq. In its subsequent investigation of the April 2004 bomb plot against Western and Jordanian government targets in Amman (alleged by the Jordanian government to have involved chemical weapons), Jordanian intelligence learned that Zarqawi had even been smuggled into Jordan a few days before the operation to meet the assassins of Lawrence Foley.
Meanwhile, according to German intelligence documents, Al-Tawhid resurfaced in Iraq and Europe, where its operatives were used to facilitate Zarqawi’s escape through Iran, Iraq and Syria, providing money and passports. These documents, based on the 2003 confessions of Jordanian militant Shadi Mohd Mustafa Abdallah, an Al-Tawhid operative in Germany, show that the organization sent 41 forged passports—25 of them British—through Turkey to Iran to help this collective escape in exchange for 47,000 deutschemarks brought from Tehran by “two Kurdish messengers.” These operatives, according to the same documents, were meant to travel to Spain, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
However, if Jund as-Sham had “vanished” as an organization, its agenda (the establishment of a caliphate in the Levant) was merely postponed to a later date, when the jihad in Iraq would have, as Afghanistan did in the 1980s and 1990s, produced a cadre of battle-trained militants experienced enough to go back to their home countries and provide the nucleus of a new, regenerated “Jihad International”, able to serve as a vehicle for Zarqawi’s regional and global ambitions. The March bombing in Doha, which came roughly a year after Zarqawi’s failed “chemical” plot in Jordan, may signal the beginning of that phase.
This renewed “global retail infrastructure” is particularly strong in Europe, where, despite the blows that they suffered in the hands of security services there, jihadi networks have expanded in the past two years, especially in northern and eastern Europe, according to French and British counter-terrorism officials. Italian police documents from 2003–04, as well as the transcript of the interrogation of a Jordanian militant from Al-Tawhid named Shadi Mohd Mustafa Abdallah by German intelligence in 2002 and 2003, confirm the extent of Zarqawi’s networks there. First in September 2001 and again in 2002, the Jordanian militant instructed Al-Tawhid to conduct terrorist attacks against Jewish and American targets in Germany. His name also surfaced repeatedly in investigations following the May 2003 bombings in Casablanca, Morocco, which killed 44 people, as well as the subsequent terrorist attacks in Turkey (November 2003, 62 killed) and Madrid (March 2004, 190 killed). While his personal involvement in these plots is still unclear, some German and Italian intelligence officials now believe that most of the European networks (through individuals such as Mohamed al-Gharbuzi, a suspect in the Casablanca bombings, and Amer al-Azizi, considered to have been the mastermind of the Madrid bombings) involved in these and other operations (such as a truck bomb plot uncovered by British authorities in March 2004) are part of Zarqawi’s global infrastructure of recruits and associates. These are a collection of “holdovers” from pre-9/11 Al-Qaeda, Al-Tawhid operatives, militants affiliated with the Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam (now called Ansar al-Sunnah), and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, whose networks in Italy, Spain and Germany seem to have a greater profile in Al-Qaeda than previously thought, according to German security sources.
Since summer 2003, this network of recruiters, passport forgers, financiers and logistical experts has quickly started moving away from local operations and gravitating toward Zarqawi’s Iraqi insurgency. Combined with a seemingly endless ability to raise funds—now largely dependent upon Al-Qaeda’s benefactors in the Persian Gulf—this infrastructure has been active in recruiting dozens if not hundreds of volunteers, providing them with forged passports, and sending them though Turkey, Syria or Iran to join Al-Tawhid in Iraq. (The group was renamed Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, or “Al-Qaeda in Iraq”, following Zarqawi’s public “pledge of allegiance” to Bin Laden in October 2004). In France alone, according to French counter-terrorism officials, about two dozen recruits were sent through this jihadi pipeline to Iraq, where most of them died.
The larger question facing experts and intelligence analysts alike is whether Zarqawi’s new profile is a result of the U.S. government’s obsessive “personalization” of the War on Terror (and the resulting media coverage), or indicative of a more fundamental shift in the command structure of a “terrorist Internet” that still calls itself Al-Qaeda but whose increasingly disconnected structure has earned the label of “Jihad, Inc.”
There is little doubt that the most recent developments in the War on Terror, specifically the arrest of Abu Faraj al-Libbi in Pakistan on May 2—which, according to the Pakistani government, is expected to lead to “major breakthroughs” in the hunt for Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri—have only furthered the structural revamping of Al-Qaeda’s leadership, communication techniques and overall character.
There is now an increased consensus among experts and intelligence officials that Bin Laden is still in overall control of his organization through a complex communication system involving couriers and audiotapes, email and verbal codes. Despite this, as well as the fact that the personal differences in ideological and strategic outlook between the Saudi and his Jordanian commander differ widely, there already are some serious indications that Zarqawi’s role in Al-Qaeda has increased considerably in the past twelve months. This shift reflects not only Zarqawi’s efforts in the Iraqi insurgency, his wider global overreach and his global profile in jihadi circles, but more importantly his control of a new base in Iraq around which the technical, financial and human resources of Jihad, Inc., can again coalesce. Just as they once flocked to Afghanistan and Chechnya, international jihadis can now come to Iraq, not only to be “camp trained” but “battle trained.” They can weave the personal and institutional relationships, the feelings of kinship and shared experience, that hold together Al-Qaeda’s virtual umma, or “community.”
This strategic shift, as well as Zarqawi’s larger—some might say “heir apparent”—role in Al-Qaeda, is reflected concretely in the contents of last year’s communications between Zarqawi and Bin Laden, whose relationship had previously been considered fairly antagonistic. From Zarqawi’s written (though unsigned) ”appeal” to Bin Laden, intercepted by U.S. intelligence in early February 2004, to Al-Tawhid wal Jihad’s formal pledge of allegiance to Al-Qaeda posted on the Internet in October, to Bin Laden’s acknowledgement of Zarqawi as “Al-Qaeda’s Prince in Iraq” several weeks after that, emerges the picture of a considerable gravity shift from the “old base” (Afghanistan) to the new base (Iraq), and from the old guard to the new. One can only guess the terms of this partnership, which, in the words of Al-Tawhid wal Jihad’s statement, took “eight months of contacts” and at least one “catastrophic dispute.” There is little doubt that this informal agreement involves a greater access to Al-Qaeda’s financial, logistical and human resources for Zarqawi, against the broadening of his terrorist activities not only to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, but also to Europe and the United States, which the Saudi urged Zarqawi to strike in his speech broadcast in December 2004. As demonstrated once again in the arrest of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, Europe, with its open borders and large Muslim population, is still considered by Al-Qaeda to be a springboard for attacks on the United States.
Already, several of Al-Qaeda’s regional commanders have publicly followed in Bin Laden’s footsteps in acknowledging the Jordanian’s new status. In a taped speech broadcast on March 17, Saleh al-Aufi, named by Saudi authorities as “Al-Qaeda’s new commander in Saudi Arabia”, specifically pledged allegiance to Zarqawi, in terms that left very little room for interpretation about the Jordanian’s new status.
This increased synergy between two of the few remaining organs of Jihad, Inc., has already been reflected in Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s statements and publications, as well as the diversity of Zarqawi’s volunteers in Iraq, according to media reports and foreign security sources. Once mostly composed of recruits from Jordan, Europe, Syria, and Egypt, the ranks of “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” have, for the past 12 months, increasingly included recruits from the Gulf (principally Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen) and even Southeast Asia (mostly Indonesia and Malaysia), where Al-Tawhid wal Jihad’s recruiting efforts were either poor (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia) or inexistent (Asia), but where Al-Qaeda’s presence is well established.
Even if it is early to crown Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as Osama Bin Laden’s replacement, considering the latest pace of his terrorist attacks and the pressure that U.S. and Iraqi forces have put on him and his organization the thread of evidence indicating that he is fast moving in that direction is growing steadily, as are indications that Al-Qaeda has found a new—albeit rather uncomfortable—base in Iraq. But while this increased pressure on Al-Qaeda’s leadership both in Pakistan and Iraq could signal a very encouraging tipping point in the ongoing campaign against the organization, it may also emphasize a set of harsh realities for the not-so-distant future of America’s War on Terror. By opening a new front in the global jihad, which serves as the lifeline of Al-Qaeda’s ideological staying power, the Iraq War, despite its many accomplishments, has provided the organization with a much-needed replacement for its Afghan base. There is ample evidence that the same magnetic force that drew so many jihadis to Afghanistan in the 1990s has re-emerged in Iraq, with greater stealth and amplitude, as well as potentially deadlier consequences. At any given moment, these young recruits will return to their home countries in Europe and the Middle East with not just the crude and generic guerrilla training the was dispensed in Afghanistan, but a deep, battle-tested knowledge of urban terrorist operations and a far greater understanding than their predecessors of clandestine network management, the opportunities presented by the privatization of mass destruction capabilities, and the techniques of a deadlier, stealthier and more global societal warfare.
Alexis Debat is a terrorism analyst, visiting lecturer at Middlebury College and senior terrorism consultant to abc News. He is also a contributing editor to The National Interest and Politique Internationale. A longer version of this piece appears in the summer 2005 issue of The National Interest.
Un libro utilissimo…
… anche per la mia tesi…
a) Gruppi egiziani (EIJ- EIG)
b) al Qaeda in Iraq (vedi Appendice?)
c) Gruppi marocchini e algerini
d) Al Qaeda in Arabia Saudita
WASHINGTON — Former U.S. counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke said yesterday that he fears the government and public are falling into a false sense of complacency about security needs while Iraq is becoming a new breeding ground for terrorism against the United States. He also said he believes another wave of attacks will eventually hit the country.
“It’s been 44 months since 9/11 and there is, in some locations around the country and in popular opinion, a growing sense of complacency,” Clarke said during a keynote speech at the 2005 Government Security Conference in Washington. “We can’t get back to normal. We can never get back to normal.”
Clarke cited several examples of how he believes the government and public are letting down their guard, including resuming general aviation at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, allowing airports to replace federal passenger and baggage screeners with private workers, and failing to adopt regulations for chemical plants that have lethal gases.
Clarke said the main reasons for complacency are that there has not been another attack in the United States and the government consistently talks about how many senior al Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed.
“Someday they will come back; there will be a second wave,” he said. “And if we are complacent — if we think because we’ve [crossed] out all the names on our chart, if we think that we don’t have to reduce our vulnerabilities and improve our security here at home — we will suffer another major attack.”
He cited four main indicators to gauge whether the terrorist threat still exists: the number of attacks in the world; the number of terrorists; the amount of money they have; and the amount of support they receive in Islamic countries. He said all of these indicators are on the rise, proving that the terrorist threat is growing.
“If you believe that we’re destroying al-Qaeda and its related organizations, I think you’re wrong,” he said. “If you believe that even if we succeeded in doing that we’d be OK because there are no other threats in the world, I think you’re wrong.”
He also said he is worried that a second generation of terrorists is growing up in Iraq while the U.S. government focuses on capturing or killing known insurgents like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is the most wanted man in Iraq.
“What I fear happening today is that while we are all happily crossing out al-Zarqawi and others on our organizational chart of al Qaeda, we have alienated the Islamic world, our popularity is at an all-time low [and] we have destroyed whole cities in Iraq like Fallujah.”
He said if 1 percent of people in grow to hate America, then that would be enough “to pose a major threat.”
“Whether you think we should have gone into Iraq or not, I think you need to accept the reality that we may be converting parts of Iraq into a new breeding ground for terrorism. There are over 40,000 insurgents now in Iraq,” he said.
Clarke also said some actions by federal agencies and Congress are encouraging complacency.
The Homeland Security Department announced this week that it plans to reopen Reagan National Airport to certain precleared general aviation aircraft. The airport was closed to general aviation after the 9/11 attacks, mainly at Clarke’s request, he said.
“I don’t think it should reopen for general aviation,” Clarke told reporters after his speech. “I think that if the Defense Department or the Secret Service sees a general aviation aircraft now going toward the White House … they know it’s a problem because no general aviation aircraft should be there.”
“If, in the future, general aviation aircraft are allowed in that zone … then you won’t be sure when you see an aircraft whether it’s hostile or not,” he added. “By the time you figure out whether or not it actually did go through the security procedures, it could hit the White House.”
Clarke objected to the use of private screening companies, saying the creation of the Transportation Security Administration represented “the one great thing that we have done since 9/11 to increase security” and “an example of how the government can work.”
TSA is accepting applications from airports to replace federal screeners with a privatized workforce. Congress required the agency to give airports the option of using private screening companies again, as long as those companies provide screening services that are at least as good as the federal workforce.
Clarke noted that the government has yet to mandate security improvements at chemical plants, and a report this week from the Government Accountability Office shows that federal efforts to secure cargo coming into U.S. ports are lacking.
“There’s complacency when people see the federal government not responding to obvious threats,” Clarke said.
Un notevole studio su un movimento fondamentale (nel vero senso della parola) nel complesso mondo del fondamentalismo islamico :
Devo ricordarmi di inserire, nel capitolo sui gruppi minori, una parte dedicata al finanziamento ed al sostegno di questi da parte di al Qaeda.