We can defeat today’s jihadists, as we did the anarchist terrorists a century ago

Summary:  Today’s violence from Islamic extremists has many similarities to the anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Using standard police and intelligence methods, Western governments defeated the anarchists — without massive restrictions on civil liberties, without military operations. We can defeat today’s Islamic extremists using similar methods — reversing the results from 16 years of failed wars.

“Wars are measured in body counts. The news carries a running tally. You change the world with rivers of blood.”
— Terrorist leader Saleem Ulman, from the NCIS-LA episode “Truth Or Consequences”.

Anarchy

Jihad flag

(1)  Introduction

The violence of anarchist terrorists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has been largely forgotten, as seen in this quote from Wikipedia:

Some revolutionaries of this time encouraged acts of violence such as sabotage or even assassination of heads of state to further spark a revolution. However, these actions were regarded by many anarchists as counter-productive or ineffective.

This is the only mention of violence in the Wikipedia entry, which grossly misrepresents their significance in that era.  A more accurate historical viewpoint is this comment by Stefan at Matthew Yglesias’ blog:

Consider that over about a 20 year period, anarchists assassinated, among others, Russian Czar Alexander II (1881), French president Sadi Carnot (1894), Spanish prime minister Canovas (1897), Elizabeth of Bavaria (Empress Consort of Austria-Hungary) (1898), King Umberto I of Italy (1900), and US president William McKinley (1901). If Islamist terrorists had managed to murder an equivalent number of Western heads of state, we’d all be living under martial law by now.

Police work and international coordination successfully suppressed the anarchist extremists, without the military action we have used to fight jihadists since 9/11. Many anarchist terrorists were from Italy, but we never bombed Italy. We could learn much from their success.

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Stratfor looks at the stray cubs of the Caliphate

Summary: Here Stratfor examines a growing and disturbing aspect of fourth generation warfare — the increased use of children as soldiers — by jihadists. This can help us to better know what to expect from this dark aspect of our future, and to prepare for it.Stratfor

The Stray Cubs of the Caliphate

By  Scott Stewart at Stratfor, 2 December 2016.

The use of child soldiers is a practice that is as old as the history of warfare itself. Since its founding, the Islamic State has embraced the tactic, but has added a modern twist with the use of social media to gather young recruits into the radical jihadist movement. And as international pressure has squeezed the group on the battlefield, it has increasingly used the children under its sway to carry out combat operations — even suicide bombings.

On Dec. 16, German news outlets reported that a 12-year-old German-Iraqi boy was arrested after twice trying and failing to detonate a homemade explosive device near a Christmas market in Ludwigshafen, a city on the Rhine River across from Mannheim. A passer-by noticed an unattended backpack and alerted police, who found that it contained a glass jar filled with gunpowder. A wire protruded from a hole in the lid of the jar, suggesting that the boy was trying to detonate the gunpowder using a battery or other source of electricity. The jar bomb, covered with nails, was clearly intended to hurt or kill people. Despite its relatively simple design and small scale, had the boy managed to ignite the device in a crowd, it could have done serious damage.

Authorities did not specify how they linked the boy to the device, but it is likely that surveillance camera footage helped. He apparently first tried to set off the device on Nov. 26, then tried again nine days later — indicating the backpack had been in place for some time. It appears as if police waited to publicize the incident until after they had detained the boy.

Police said that the preteen had been radicalized after communicating with an unidentified member of the Islamic State over the Telegram instant messaging app. The boy reportedly expressed a desire to travel to Syria, but it appears as if his Islamic State contact persuaded him to remain in Germany to conduct an attack there. This is in keeping with the trends we have been following in Islamic State propaganda and its efforts to radicalize grassroots jihadists in the West and equip them to conduct simple attacks. In this case, the would-be attacker was a child, offering a glimpse into how the Islamic State is trying to build the next generation of jihadism.

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Stratfor cuts through the hype about grassroots terrorism

Summary:  We have had many episodes of lone wolf terrorism. Each produces a tsunami of stories, but so far no strategic effects. Here Stratfor examines grassroots terrorism, helping us to better know what to expect.Stratfor

Putting Grassroots Terrorism in the Proper Perspective

Lead analyst:  Scott Stewart.
Stratfor, 8 December 2016.

When it comes to claiming attacks, the Islamic State seems to believe in the old advertising adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. The group apparently feels that the very mention of its involvement in an attack, successful or otherwise, will serve to fuel public panic — a strategy that has proved effective. No matter how inept an attacker or how ineffective an assault, the Islamic State is quick to take credit, even where credit does not appear due.

One such example is a recent attack in Ohio. Just after 10 a.m. on Nov. 28, an 18-year-old student named Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove onto the Ohio State University campus where he was enrolled. Running his vehicle over a curb, Artan struck a group of pedestrians then exited the car and began attacking passersby with a large knife. About a minute into the incident, a responding university police officer shot and killed the assailant, who managed to injure 11 people in the course of the attack — one of them seriously.

Though the attack was amateurish and unsuccessful, and despite Artan’s documented affinity for al Qaeda leaders such as the late Anwar al-Awlaki, the Islamic State took to the internet to claim responsibility. The group’s Amaq news agency hailed Artan as a “soldier of the caliphate” who had heeded the call to “target nationals” of the countries fighting against the Islamic State, in accordance with the tenets of leaderless resistance. In the wake of the announcement, I noted on Twitter that the fact Amaq claimed such an attack highlights the limited reach of the Islamic State’s core group. (Here at Stratfor, I have also discussed the group’s struggles in projecting its terrorist capabilities transnationally over the past few years. In fact, I consider its adoption of leaderless resistance an admission of weakness rather than a sign of strength.)

But shortly after I posted the tweet, someone responded that I had done a disservice to my audience by characterizing Artan as a grassroots jihadist. The basis of my interlocutor’s complaint, as I understood it, was that the label downplays the threat that such attackers pose. Rather than begin a Twitter fight or try to explain myself in 140-character chunks, I decided to devote this week’s column to the importance of properly contextualizing terrorist attacks.

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Does terrorism work? Richard English gives the answer.

Summary: A large literature discusses the effectiveness of foreign armies and their tools against insurgencies, but few ask about the other side. Does terrorism work for insurgents? A new book by Richard English fills that gap, with some surprising conclusions. Since terrorism is a key tool of 4GW, the dominant form of war in our time, the fate of the world depends on the answer.

Does Terrorism Work?
Available at Amazon.

 

By Any Means or None

By Thomas Nagel.
London Review of Books. 8 September 2016.
Posted with the author’s generous permission.

Review of Does Terrorism Work? A history by Richard English (2016).

 

When I am hit with news of yet another terrorist attack, I often wonder what these people hope to achieve. In a depressingly timely book, Richard English tries to answer that question for a number of important cases, in order to address the broader question of his title.

First, he has to specify what would count as ‘working’, and then he has to look at the historical facts to determine what the groups he studies have actually achieved. He devotes a chapter each to al-Qaida, the Provisional IRA, Hamas and the Basque separatist group ETA, and in a final chapter runs quickly through a score of other examples. While he emphasises that terrorism is also practised by states, his subject here is terrorism by non-state actors – specifically, non-state organisations that have pursued a campaign of terrorism over a significant period of time.

His aim is to interpret these campaigns so far as possible as the work of rational agents employing violent means to pursue definite political ends: the motives of lone-wolf terrorists are liable to be inchoate. All four of English’s main examples have been very explicit about what they want and how they hope to get it, and he observes that they have all failed in their main aims, as have almost all other terrorist campaigns, with a few important exceptions. But he also looks closely at the full range of their effects, to determine whether they have ‘worked’ in some more qualified sense.

He distinguishes three further senses, short of strategic victory, in which terrorism might be said to work: partial strategic victory, tactical success and the inherent rewards of struggle as such – and there are further subdivisions within these categories. (It seems to me that the last item doesn’t really belong on this list. If, as English reports, the members of the IRA and other groups have enjoyed the inherent rewards of comradeship, excitement and an ennobling sense of purpose, that is at best a beneficial side-effect of their terrorist activity, not a way in which it succeeds or ‘works’.)

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Causes and effects of the Nice attack

Summary: The Nice incident was the latest in a long series of jihadist attacks in Europe. Here we look at the mass immigration which made it almost inevitable, and the likely effects. The resulting political destabilization will make mitigate (there is no cure) more difficult — and more attacks are coming.

French Muslims burning French flag

The attack in Nice is just the latest in a long series of attacks by Islamic terrorists in Europe since 2010. This is not just a shock like 9/11 was to America because it results from a long-standing, bipartisan (i.e., both Left and Right), and unpopular policy: allowing mass immigration. The cumulative effect of these attacks might discredit much of western Europe’s political leadership. That might prove more significant the death toll from these incidents.

“What does the word ‘enough’ mean? Is Sweden full? Is the Nordic region full? Are we too many people? We are 25 million people living in the North. I often fly over the Swedish countryside. I would recommend more people to do the same. There are endless fields and forests. There’s as much space as you can imagine. Those who claim that the country is full, they must demonstrate where it is full.”
— Fredrik Reinfeldt (Prime Minster of Sweden from 2006-2014), expressing views of EU’s elites.

The WaPo reports that “The refugee crisis could actually be a boon for Germany.” Pushing wages down! Higher corporate profits!

“‘…this country, which eighty years ago was responsible for the worst crimes of the century, has today won the applause of the world, thanks to its open borders.”
— Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005. Applause of the world’s elites.

In August 2015 this EU poll asked people to list the most important issues facing the EU. What would this look like if run today? Click to enlarge.

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Stratfor: What the Ramadan Attacks Reveal About ISIS

Summary: The fall of Fallujah and the Ramadan attacks mark a decisive retreat of the jihadist (led by ISIS) from Mao’s Phase 3 operations (holding areas) back to Phase 2 (attacks on the government, terrorism). Last week Stratfor looked at Fallujah; here is their analysis of the Ramadan attacks. Eventually it will get crushed as was al Qaeda, setting the stage for Jihad 3.0.

Stratfor

What the Ramadan Attacks Reveal About the Islamic State

Lead analyst:  Scott Stewart
Stratfor, 7 July 2016

Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammed al-Adnani called on the group’s followers in late May to launch a spate of attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Looking back on that month, which ran from June 5 to July 5, it is clear that his call was answered. This year’s Ramadan has been the bloodiest on record since the Islamic State declared its caliphate in June 2014.  {See info about the Ramadan Offensives in in 2003 and in 2006.

That is not to say that past Ramadans did not see their share of violence, too. In 2015, the holy month brought significant attacks against a tourist beach resort in Sousse, Tunisia, and against a military reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But this year’s carnage has far surpassed last year’s in both scope and body count, in spite of the Islamic State core’s notable losses of territory and fighters in Iraq and Syria.

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Stratfor: Terrorism doesn’t ‘just happen’. Here’s how it develops.

Summary: With hysteria building in the West about terrorism, Stratfor provides an analytical look at the origins of terrorism — an understanding essential if we are to prevent it from spreading. This discussion will not, of course, affect the public debate which is driven mostly by fiction and fear.

Stratfor

How Terrorist Trends Develop

By Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 27 November 2015

Summary

Developments in terrorism are driven by numerous factors. Some drivers, such as ideology and politics, are inherent to terrorism. However, there are other elements to consider, such as technology and counterterrorism tactics, which force terrorists to adapt their techniques to stay one step ahead of the authorities.

Analysis

During the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak to audiences in Ottawa, Canada and Washington, D.C., about developments in terrorism that will affect the security of governments, companies and nongovernmental organizations in the next few years. Some of those trends, such as the competition between the Islamic State and al Qaeda, the emergence of true cyberterrorism, the progression of the grassroots threat from lone assailants to larger cells and the advent of the “online university of terrorism” will undoubtedly be familiar themes to Stratfor readers, as I have used my writing over the past few months to help flesh out my thinking in this area.

But what I’d like to do here is give readers a bit of an inside look at the factors I am thinking about when I forecast terrorist trends.

One of the most obvious drivers of terrorism is ideology. Terrorism is always ideologically driven, and ideological developments can have a dramatic impact not only on the decision to employ terrorism but also on the types of attacks conducted and the types of targets selected. For example, the emergence of the Islamic State’s strain of jihadism in Yemen over the past year has led to a number of mosque bombings — attacks that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula would not conduct under its operational guidelines. In Nigeria, the leaders of the Islamic State’s Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi, the group formerly known as Boko Haram, have decided that it is permissible to use women and girls in suicide bombing attacks, and they have used over 50 female suicide bombers in 2015 alone. Ideology is also at the heart of the competition between al Qaeda and the Islamic State as the two rivals struggle to become the religious pole of the global jihadist movement.

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