June 26, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
Yes. The Chechnya that gave the world the Boston Bombers. Chechnyans are also moving forcefully in Syria. I like the version where about 10,000 years ago a gang left the Fertile Crescent and settled in what is now Chechnya. They had what one can only call a strong sense of possession of their adopted lands. Other groups, gangs, and nations tried to conquer them, but they are stubborn. They beat the Mongols off twice. Finally Russia’s expansion brought them under Soviet control, which they have resisted forcefully since the arrival of the Cossacks.
By forcefully I’m talking about a traditionally clan-based culture with a deep tradition of terrorism that has been active for more than 20 years. The bombs have even reached Moscow.
And, no, I’m not saying that all Chechnyans are terrorists. That’s a bit like saying all Muslims are terrorists, forgetting just how small the tiny percentage of terrorists lie within.
And, yes, I’m saying that from this traditionally clan-based society came the Jeish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar, the group formerly known as the al-Muhajireen Brigade, and they just attacked the critical Minnigh military airport in Syria's Aleppo governorate. It has been said that they are allied with al-Nusrah Front which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.
So yet another group believing in the al-Qaeda Global Narrative is taking part in what once was a peaceful demonstration against a disliked ruler. I don't envy Obama as he tries to build the list of 'the good guys’ to deliver weapons to. Soon the list will be very short as the anti-American jihadists shift and shake things up. They are excellent fighters, and other groups may have to rely on them for support. And what about the weapons we already delivered…or did I make that up?
Unlike the Algerians (whose people are being held for ransom) and many other nations who refuse to negotiate with terrorists, Obama has chosen, at the worst possible time, to negotiate with the Pakistani supported Taliban of Afghanistan.
Anti-terror-craft wisdom says one should not negotiate with terrorists unless they are psychologically and physically weak and see no other option than to come to the table. It is inadvisable to negotiate unless the other side of the table is strong. It is dangerous to negotiate when the terrorists can garner political gain from the talks.
Obama blew it on all three counts. He negotiates with the Taliban at a time when their power is increasing.The 'other side' is not only weak, but Karzai is about to leave office and no promises he makes to the Taliban are guaranteed once he is out. The beautiful Qatar building housing the Taliban representatives was dubbed the home of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan", immediately giving the Taliban an image of legitimacy they did not have before.,
The Taliban's disdain for Obama and his ideas was clearly demonstrated hours after the Qatar office was opened. They launched suicide and weapons attacks on both the heart of the Karzai government (the Presidential Palace) and and the local CIA offices. The clumsy rush to get America out of Afghanistan is a betrayal of Obama's promise to help rid Afghanistan of the Taliban.
Actions based on dreams and simplistic solutions only hurt the innocent civilians suffering in the conflict. Those advising Presideent Obama need to be removed and replaced with people who are at least in touch with the realities of dealing with terrorists.
June 26, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
The past few months marked a tragic return to sectarian violence in Iraq not seen since 2006-2007. Over 2,000 people died across the country since the start of April, most in Baghdad, as al-Qaeda’s ugly footprint further crushed the spirit of a population long weary of death.
Although Sunni, Shia, Turkomen, Christians, and Kurds are targeted, it seems that al-Qaeda is targeting Shia more than any other group as it piggybacks on the resentment of the Sunni community to Maliki’s uneven handed government. The terrorists seek the disruption and dissolution of the state.
On Monday ten car bombs killed over 40 people in Baghdad alone. Yesterday saw gunmen attack a church in the al-Amin neighborhood. Recently one of the deadliest attacks saw 11 killed and 25 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a cafe packed with young people in the largely Shiite neighborhood of al-Ameen in southeastern Baghdad. [Huffington post]
What lies ahead may be even worse. An annual target of terrorists is gathering in the Shia holy city of Karbala. The Shabaniyah festival gathers tens of thousands marking the birth of the Hidden Imam, a revered Shia leader. It has proved to be a targeted environment in the past.
Caught between Iraq and a hard place, President Obama has chosen to select who to arm and who should die.
Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and the hundreds of drone sites attacked all left a legacy of innocents killed and increased hatred for the United States.
Dear Mr. President: the Assad opposition is riddled with actors who are not on our side. Arming them strengthens our enemies. Don't take the politically easy way out. Please decide not to send more arms and ammunition to anyone. Your policies have already strengthened al-Qaeda's recruitment song.
May you have the courage of thr right path to more peaceful tomorrows without the delusions of short-term solutions. Inshallah
June 18, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
June 12, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
The Syrian revolt has stalled, in part, because the opposition tolerated a false friend. The appearance of the al Nusrah front in the battle against Assad marked a critical point. جبهة النصرة لأهل الشام Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahl ash-Shām (al-Nusrah) declared itself in January or 2012 and almost immediately had outstanding military success against Assad’s assembling forces.
Fierce, well-armed, and successful fighters, they were welcomed by the opposition who were mainly civilians armed with outrage. At that critical moment their al-Qaeda affiliation (born of Iraq’s ISI al-Qaeda branch) seemed less important than the help they offered. But the opposition miscalculated.
The U.S. was quick to label al-Nusrah ‘a terrorist organization.’ This, because of American policy, precluded any aid to them, and to their allies. It was a consternation to those in the administration who sought to weaken Iran’s influence in the area by helping to oust of Assad.
This embracing of ‘an enemy of my enemy’ may have prevented the U.S. from supporting the rebels in any significant way. Al-Nusrah may have never exceeded 10% of the anti-Assad fighters but they may have cost the opposition the victory they seek. It may be too late to undue the error.
Governments don’t like political justifications for terrorism. They prefer to focus on almost any cause other than dissatisfaction with American action. It’s much easier to deal with putting the blame on psychosis, religion, fanaticism, and irrational acts. Add ethnicity, nationalism/separatism, poverty, economic disadvantage, and globalization to the mix. Just don’t mention America's violent, deadly operations undertaken to fulfill policy goals.
One might take a moment to listen to the rhetoric of terrorist organizations and the arguments they use to recruit new members. There is often a logic (sometimes twisted) and a factual basis (often unattributed) in their professed viewpoints. Their vision may be skewed, but it effectively persuades many to radicalization, and some to violence. Revenge for politically based military action is a common theme, as is the slaughter of innocents. President Obama’s drones and the innocent civilians they kill are often mentioned.
"special edition" of Azan magazine, publiched by
fighters in the Afghan-Pakistan region, glorified the bombings in Boston,
Massachusetts, on April 15, 2013, and considered them retribution for America's
"war crimes" in Muslim countries. The 4-page issue was uploaded on a
file-sharing website on May 8, 2013, and does not appear to have been
officially released as yet. Referring to the attack as a "drone in
America," the authors thanked the bombers for bringing "coolness to
the hearts of millions of oppressed families worldwide," and justified it
as revenge for the US military invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq, America's
support to Israel, and its alleged insults to religious sanctities like the
Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad.
Here's what they wrote about President Barack Obama's pledge to bring the perpetrators [of the Boston bombings] to justice:
"Is it 'just' that you oppress the rest of humanity and feel a right to be secure? What are YOU doing in Afghanistan? Why are your soldiers here? Who started this war? Certainly, YOU Mr. President and your predecessors and cronies who pretend to be the harmonious protectors of the world – indeed, you deserve to be put in the court of justice… But not any man-made court of justice… You are a criminal in the Court of Allah… So, let the world rejoice at the destruction that befell the great tyrant. And let America fear for more…"
What may appear as mere hype actually works to convince some to join the violent jihad against the 'criminal' forces of Obama. This is especially true in regions where people have been directly affected by drones, and where the population has little access to views other than the terrorists themselves. It also works to stimulate rage in people far away, who sympathize with the plight of those innocents being attacked.
You either agree with them or you don’t, but ignoring them is a mistake. And shaping counterterrorist policy without paying attention to foreign policy is a deadly mistake.
Case studies of terrorists and terrorist organizations are a common way to try to understand the forces that lead to acceptance of indiscriminate violence toward innocent civilians. They are problematic by nature, tending toward subjectivity. Wide variations in the political, social, and psychological elements of actual terrorists’ lives makes generalizations extremely difficult.
Psychological approaches to the study of terrorism are diverse and have developed along with the evolution of general psychological theory. Behaviorist theories have mostly given way to the science of cognitive psychology. Academia has insisted on scientific rigor and experiments have yielded valuable insights into these mechanisms.
Early work includes Feuer's theory of the "conflict of generations," based on Freudian concepts. Erickson’s work in developmental psychology, in the 60’s, broadened the psychological view to include an accent on early trauma, guilt, and self-punishment in the lives of terrorists. Bollinger and Knutson picked up on these ideas and formed new theories of problems with identity formation and negative identity, respectively. Many other theories followed on. Individual psychological profiles have proved to have a critical flaw with respect to explaining terrorist behavior: many individuals share profiled traits and become radicalized, but very few become violent.
Cognitive psychology has had a large impact on the field of terrorism studies. Experimental evidence has revealed mechanisms that can move people to radical states of mind, and now go so far as to include theories of radicalization to violence. In many respects these findings support earlier theories by uncovering distinct and verifiable psychological elements that amplify terrorist proclivities. The last step, acceptance of violence, while critical, is not so clearly understood.
Social Cognitive Theory psychology includes the dynamics of groups and their influence on individuals. Experimental evidence from Milgram, Huckerby, Ash, Solomon & Bargh, and others have proven that groups influence individuals in significant ways that can be used to radicalize to violence.
Counter-Violence and Counter-Terrorism studies, with their narrow, functional goals, have been funded widely by governments. Programs have been built and statistics gathered, but there is little evidence for their efficacy. Lum (et.al.) reports “There is almost a complete absence of high quality scientific evaluation evidence on counter-terrorism strategies.”
Next: Research Methods in Terrorism: 7—where do we go from here?
Lum, C., Kennedy, L., Shirley, A. (2006). The Effectiveness of Counter-Terrorism Strategies.
I remember a successful Black Panther campaign of aid to the poor. I remember Muqtada al Sadr dispensing help to those in need. The U.S. brings doctors and nurses along to patch up the victims of its violence. It's not uncommon for the violent to wear a gentle coat. Large scale failure in these efforts is hard to imagine since the recipients are in bad shape.
But failure can occur, and Hezbollah failed; for the second time in 7 days. Mr. Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, sent thousands of packets of food to Palestian refugees now in Lebanon's giant Ain al-Hilweh camp. Lebanon's Daily Star reported that they read the labels: “Islamic Resistance in Lebanon to our brethren, the displaced Palestinians from Syria.They burned it all!
'Kill me with one hand and then try to feed me with the other, NOT!' seems to be the sentiment of the day. Over 70,000 refugees are in the Ain al-Hilweh camp and the conditions are dire. It is ironic that many in the camp share Hezbollah's animosity toward the Jews, including acceeptance of indiscriminate violence in pursuit of their goals, but now find themselves rejecting the gifts of needed food. Has Nasrallah gone too far? Has he tarnished the brand of Hezbollah?
Perhaps Nasrallah is out of his depth. His experience has been with killing Jews, not Muslims. Maybe his sense of self-importance led him to believe his charitable gesture would be welcomed. Of course, we cannot know what is in his mind, but we can begin to see clues that point to an unrealistic view of current events.