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Terror Nexus Changes Ideological Tactic in Midst of Nimrodian Hunt


Oct 25, 2002
As we continue to pick the low-hanging fruits, our next major battle must be for States of Concern, including, but not limited to, Pakistan. With Yahya in Iran and the ISI in Pakistan, this will be a very delicate process. I hope the Afghan and Iraqi campaign sent the right signals.



STILL smarting from the blows it has received in the past two years, the Islamist terror movement is debating a new strategy. Conducted in Islamist circles in Pakistan, the Middle East and Europe, and echoed in numerous Web sites and newssheets, the debate centers on a key question: Which should be our priority target - the United States and its Western allies, or the fragile Muslim states where we could come to power in a reasonable time frame?

Some argue that the 9/11 attack against the United States was "premature." They insist that the Islamist movement should have first seized power in several Muslim countries and dotted itself with nuclear weapons before taking on America, which is regarded as "the last champion of unbelief in the world."

Supporters of that view cite the position the Prophet took in the last year of his life, when he led a large Muslim army against the Byzantine Empire. On reaching the border between Arabia and Byzantium, the Prophet halted his army to have a good look at the forces of Emperor Heraclius (Hirqil in Arabic).

The Prophet was impressed: He saw that the Byzantine army would be no pushover. He ordered his own host to march back home without a single engagement. Although criticized by some Arab commanders at the time, the Prophet's decision to retreat was quickly endorsed by God Himself through a message relayed by Archangel Gabriel.

The lesson was that Muslims should not become involved in suicidal operations against a far stronger foe.

That was the position that Abdallah Azzam, the Palestinian ideologist of al Qaeda, took in the autumn of 1989. The question then was whether the Islamist movement, having helped drive out the Red Army from Afghanistan, should immediately move to attack the United States, whose support had been crucial for the Soviet defeat.

Azzam delivered his answer in a sermon in Peshawar, Pakistan. It was simple: The movement must consolidate its position in Afghanistan, seize control of Pakistan, capture the Arabian Peninsula and, having created a solid power base, liberate Kashmir and then-Soviet-held Central Asia before attacking the United States.

A few days after that sermon, Azzam was killed in a car bomb attack. At the time, the murder was blamed on Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian who later became al Qaeda's No. 2.

The two men had fought an ideological duel for months. Al-Zawahiri had accused Azzam of "localism," and dismissed the strategy of focusing on the region as "cat's p-ss politics." The Egyptian argued that the time had come for a frontal attack against the United States, that driving the Americans back into their neck of the woods would lead to the domino-like collapse of those Muslim states backed by Washington.

The al-Zawahiri-Azzam ideological duel was arbitrated by Osama bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire through whom funds for the movement were channeled from the oil-rich Arab states. Days after bin Laden had decided that al-Zawahiri was right, Azzam was dead.

Having won the argument, al-Zawahiri tested it with two attacks inside America, first in 1993, against the World Trade Center in New York, and then in September 2001.

Last week, however, al-Zawahiri, making an ideological U-turn, unveiled a new strategy that sounds like a rehash of that envisaged by Azzam.

In a taped message, played in Islamist cells all over the world and broadcast in part by two Arab satellite-TV channels, the Egyptian (believed to be hiding either in Pakistan or in Iran) presents the strategy in three segments.

* First, he calls on "brothers in Jihad" to try to seize power in Muslim countries where the present regimes are regarded as weak. He singles out Pakistan as "ripe for liberation."

Al-Zawahiri's analysis is based on the assumption that the pro-Jihad elements in the Pakistani army and secret services would help the radicals win power in Islamabad. As the only Muslim country with an acknowledged nuclear arsenal, Pakistan could put the Jihadists in a new league.

* The second segment of al-Zawahiri's strategy is focused on what he calls "lands of war," meaning Afghanistan and Iraq. There, he envisages years, if not decades, of war pitting the United States against Jihadists. The aim is to weaken America in preparation for its eventual fall.

Reading between the lines, it is clear that al-Zawahiri hopes that a future U.S. administration would get tired of involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and withdraw from both. And if and when that happens, the only organized force capable of seizing power in Baghdad and Kabul would be the Jihadists.

* The strategy's third segment focuses on what al-Zawahiri regards as unstable Muslim countries, including Indonesia, Yemen and Somalia. All three suffer from tribal, ethnic and sectarian feuds dating back centuries - feuds that Islamists could exploit to weaken the established order before administering the coup de grace.

There are two omissions in al-Zawahiri's worldview.

The first is his native Egypt - where the Jihadist movement appears to have suffered its first major political defeat, followed by mass defections. Virtually the whole of the Gamaa-Islamiyah (Islamic Society) leadership has publicly renounced violence in the past year or so.

The dominant theme in the Egyptian Islamist movement now is "the re-Islamicization of society through preaching and example" rather than armed action. It may well be that the ideological swamps in which terrorists thrived have been drained, at least for the time being.

Al-Zawahiri also omits the oil-rich Arab states of the Persian Gulf. This may be because al-Zawahiri does not want to frighten the golden goose. With the bulk of Jihad funds coming from those states, al-Zawahiri may have decided it unwise to target them publicly. There is also the fact that, since 2001, the Jihadists have suffered many defections in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Zawahiri's new strategy does not mean that there will be no terror attacks in America or Western Europe. The global Islamist movement consists of numerous groups with independent sources of finance and strategies. They were never totally controlled by al Qaeda and are less so today if only because al-Zawahiri and his gang are forced to spend the bulk of their energies avoiding capture.

Al Zawahiri's conversion to the doctrine of his dead rival may have come too late. His strategy ignores one important fact: What happened on 9/11 changed the parameters of global politics.



Oct 25, 2002
Originally posted by: freegeeks
France was also on your list

bring it on B*******TCH
as comedic as your post is, I think you're partly confused. As I said, the battle must be for States of Concern, not against them. Besides, I think there are projects in the work to weaken the French economy (in the long run). Crippling France will force her government to rely more on her citizenry (via raising taxes to catastrophic levels) and/or other EU governments to bail her out. Eventually, the theory goes, there will be a backlash that will weaken the gov't and EU. That will bring about the firesale of French assets, bringing them under foreign occupation.

Back to the topic at hand, does anyone here think that Pakistan will last as an independent for another quarter-century? I think there will be a major war within the next 25 years over her nuclear arsenal


Oct 25, 2002
My enemy's enemy

Al-Qaeda has called for General Pervez Musharraf's overthrow, as Pakistan's alliance with America starts to look a little less solid

GET Musharraf. That was the blunt message conveyed on September 28th on al-Jazeera television by a taped message, purportedly emanating from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the right hand of Osama bin Laden. Muslims in Pakistan must unite to oust this traitor, said the voice. They have tried already. In the last two years, there have been at least two serious attempts on General Pervez Musharraf's life.

Since September 11th 2001, Pakistan's president has been an invaluable ally of the United States. He was quick to grant bases to the American air force in October 2001, aiding its onslaught on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Then he allowed the FBI to set up shop in Pakistan, helping to nab more than 500 suspected al-Qaeda activists, including senior ones such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Abu Zubaydah and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who have been swiftly extradited to America's base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

More recently, General Musharraf has further angered Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular by suggesting that Muslim states should consider granting diplomatic recognition to Israel and sending troops to Iraq for peacekeeping. While he was speaking to the UN General Assembly on September 24th, he exhorted Muslim nations to eschew extremism and confrontation. In interviews, he has given warning that Islamic extremists are perverting their faith by waging reckless holy wars across the globe.

Words abroad are matched by action at home. In the past fortnight, Pakistan's intelligence agencies have swooped upon a couple of madrassas (religious schools) in Karachi and arrested 19 foreign students, mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia. Among them is Gun Rustam Gunawan, the younger brother of Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, a leading activist of the Indonesian terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiah. Hambali, who was arrested last month in Thailand, is accused of masterminding a string of bombings across South-East Asia, including the car bomb in October 2002 that killed 202 people, mostly western tourists, in Bali.

On best estimates, Pakistan contains more than 586,000 students in nearly 4,000 madrassas. Some 16,600 of these students are foreigners, mostly from Arab and African countries. Since the general's crackdown on extremists last year, scores of such foreign students have fled Pakistan for unknown destinations. Indeed, Mufti Jamil, a spokesman of the Federation of Madrassas in Karachi, complains that Pakistan is no longer a safe place for foreign students from the Muslim world. The federation is planning a legal challenge against the detention of the latest batch of religious students.

All of this has earned General Musharraf political credit in Washington. He has drawn heavily on it. In the last two years, the IMF and World Bank have helped Pakistan to reschedule $12.5 billion in outstanding debt to western countries, and provided more than $1 billion in soft loans. The Americans have helped by suspending all the military and economic sanctions they clamped on Pakistan in 1990 and 1998 for acquiring nuclear weapons. Last year the United States wrote off $1 billion in bilateral debt, and this year George Bush promised Pakistan another $3 billion in grants over the next five years. In Washington this week, General Musharraf's prime minister, Zafarullah Jamali, tried to persuade Mr Bush to sell new weapon systems to Pakistan to counter the billions of dollars of advanced weapons India has bought from Israel in recent years.

After all these withdrawals, could the general's credit balance in Washington now be heading towards the red? Many in the West continue to have mixed views about his stewardship of the country. Last week, the (formerly British) Commonwealth voted to extend Pakistan's four-year suspension from the club for not being sufficiently democratic. Many western governments are unhappy that General Musharraf's divisive policies at home have sidelined the moderate mainstream parties, enabling Islamist parties to make unprecedented gains in two of Pakistan's four provinces.

It is, however, in America where Pakistan's sharpest critics are to be found. They accuse Pakistan's national-security establishment, run exclusively by army generals, of having sold nuclear know-how to North Korea in exchange for Korean missile technology so that Pakistan can deliver its nuclear warheads. Pakistan has also been implicated in the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran. All these are vigorously denied.

Still, it is General Musharraf's lack of appetite for battling the remnants of the Taliban in Afghanistan that causes most muttering and hand-wringing in Washington. These men conduct hit-and-run missions against Kabul's security forces from hideouts in Pakistan's tribal borderlands. Despite an announced offensive this week, the general's critics say his army intelligence service has been supporting and protecting them. The recent arrest of three Pakistani officers alongside Taliban fighters in Afghanistan highlighted such worries. Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, has openly criticised Pakistan for sheltering and arming the Taliban.

The West also worries about General Musharraf's continued support of insurgents in Kashmir. The fear is that this might provoke India to retaliate, raising the spectre of a nuclear conflict. Behind the scenes, senior American officials continue to urge General Musharraf to stop infiltration across the disputed border with India in Kashmir. Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, and Christina Rocca, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, arrived in Islamabad on October 2nd. They have much to discuss.