Reaer Dan on Terrorism, Part 2

This post is by Reader Dan…


Another try at a serious discussion of terrorism.

This post follows up a previous post on terrorismlisting four very general outlooks.

This article on electrical grids in Iraq has wider implications than causing havoc in Baghdad. John Robb has an intelligent opinion that covers part of the terrorist movement in Iraq.

The aha moment for Iraq’s global guerrillas when they discovered how to accomplish an effects based operation using broad-based systems disruption:

Electricity officials say the decisive moment came July 6, when saboteurs mounted coordinated attacks across the country, gaining a lead in the battle that the government has not been able to reverse. “They targeted all the lines at the same time, and they all came down,” Mr. Abbo said. Mr. Abbo said a typical strategy was to set off explosives at the four support points of a single tower, which would then pull down two or three more towers as it toppled. As repair crews moved in hours or days later, another tower farther up the line might be struck, and then another, in a race the government had little chance of winning.

NOTE: this is a great example of how ideas are driving the evolution of warfare and will ultimately decide the winners and losers in this long war. It’s interesting to note that the DoD doesn’t have a mechanism for purchasing ideas that would help them win. They can spend trillions on contextually useless weapons systems and personnel but can barely free up a couple of thousand dollars on the ideas necessary to win this war (let alone a couple of million on a research firm dedicated to this).

And another outlook comes from this article:

While such data may have been omitted to protect the group’s clandestine sources and methods — the document has a bold heading on the front page saying “secret” and a warning that it is not to be shared with foreign governments — several security and intelligence consultants said in telephone interviews that the vagueness of the estimates reflected how little American intelligence agencies knew about the opaque and complex world of Iraq’s militant groups.

“They’re just guessing,” said W. Patrick Lang, a former chief of Middle East intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, who now runs a security and intelligence consultancy. “They really have no idea.” He added, “They’ve been very unsuccessful in penetrating these organizations.” He said he was equally skeptical about the report’s assertion that the insurgent and militant groups may have surpluses to finance terrorism outside Iraq. “That’s another guess,” he said.

“A judgment like that, coming from an N.S.C.-generated document,” he said, is not an analytical assessment as much as it is a political statement to support the administration’s contention that Iraq is a central front in the war on terrorism. “It’s a statement put in there to support a policy judgment,” he said.

Several analysts said that, except for the possibility that Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia might be transferring money to Qaeda factions elsewhere, the assertion that insurgent money might be flowing out of the country was doubtful considering the single-minded regional focus of most of the militants operating here.

Dr. Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish National Defense College, an author of extensive studies of the Iraqi insurgency, said he doubted Iraqi groups were ready to finance terrorism outside the country. “There’s very little evidence that they’re preparing to export terrorism from Iraq to the West,” he said. “I think it’s much too early for that.”

The document tracing the money flows acknowledges that investigators have had limited success in penetrating or choking off terrorist financing networks. The report says American efforts to follow the financing trails have been hamstrung by several factors. They include a weak Iraqi government and its nascent intelligence agencies; a lack of communication between American agencies, and between the Americans and the Iraqis; and the nature of the insurgent economy itself, primarily sustained by couriers carrying cash rather than more easily traceable means involving banks and the hawala money transfer networks traditional in the Middle East.

If we are not nimble enough and are consistently out maneuvered, at least in the public part of the problem, it seems we will be constantly leveraged in effort to contain the threat.

Part III will include AQ in SE Asia, where the sophisticated threat is located.


This post was by Reader Dan.