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Monday, September 22, 2014

Are We Focused Too Exclusively On The Islamic State?

Link: Who Is This Unknown Group That Has Experts Concerned?

Before the 1998 terrorist attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, very few Americans had ever heard of Al-Qaeda.  The terror group had been active for some years, recruiting and causing trouble in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.  In the four-year period between 1998 and 2002, Al-Qaeda (AQ) became a household name.  Hezbollah, Hamas, and the P.L.O. basically disappeared from the U.S. media target list.  Why not?  Those three groups were only focused on destroying Israel.  Al-Qaeda, now there was a group of young men with ambition.  After September 11, the United States justifiably declared war on AQ.  In true warrior fashion, President George Bush developed a strategy that would take the fight to the enemy.  Another important part of that strategy was the need to force AQ into a conventional war, which they were ill-prepared to win.  For one reason or another (enough blame to go around folks), we took our eye off the ball.  While its true we cut off the snake's head (bin-Laden), at least two more have grown back in its place.

I appreciate the concern expressed by the experts in the link provided, as it demonstrates that we have established a solid network of assets in the region.  But I continue to be concerned with the reluctance of the policymakers to accept the fact that these groups are basically part of the same monster.  Al-Qaeda in Magreb, Al-Qaeda in al-Sharm, Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Islamic State, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and on and on.  These groups talk to one another and they support one another.  Any reporting that details a rift between respective groups had better be vetted well, because that is just the type of disinformation these assholes use.  I strongly support the approach taken by the CIA.  While the Agency has analysts taking apart each respective group, it falls under one inclusive umbrella known as the Counter Terrorism Center (CTC).  I don't know if anyone will ever be able to adequately detail how many lives have been saved because of the work of these folks.  Seeing these folks at work is truly amazing, and will make your pride swell.  Not only has CTC uncovered and disrupted countless plans to attack U.S. interests, they have also shared life-saving information with our international friends.  Its not that complicated, really.  CTC Case Officers travel to the hot spots, use their training to spot, assess, and recruit people in positions of access.  They must set up a safe, flexible commo plan so that the information can be shared on a "need-to-know" only basis.  Most important is to keep your contact/asset safe.  When I rummage through the archives of my own gray matter (enter at your peril), I cannot recall very many instances in which Agency contacts have been uncovered.  Many times the bad guys will feed false stories to the local media (hello, Russia) in order to demonstrate some success against the Agency.  I am proud to have once worked (three months!) in CTC, and proud as an American at their tremendous sacrifice and their spectacular successes, most of which you may never know.

Sorry for getting a bit off track.  My point is, that we would all be better off considering international terrorism to be one, nasty, dangerous conglomerate.  These people have money and they get around.  Language and culture issues do not stand in the way, as they are the experts at practicing "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".  The war in which we find ourselves is against TERRORISM.  It shouldn't necessarily include narco-traffickers but if a few get blown away in the process, all the better.  If we keep our focus on their focus (the destruction of western culture and civilization), it will be easier to attack this monster head-on.  Let the experts at Langley, Interpol, and other various allied intel agencies worry about the different names and personalities.  The linked article mentions the name of a lesser-known group in Syria calling itself "Khorasan".  From what limited information the media has been able to obtain, this group consists of a small number of Al-Qaeda veterans and prefers to recruit foreigners.  Its penchant for conducting bombing attacks probably has something to do with the focus of its recruitment.  At the end of the day, I'm sure this group is no less violent and cowardly as the next.  Instead of singling out Khorasan, they should be lumped into the pile of shit we already know as International Terrorism.

Sooner or later I believe our government is going to create an Agency to focus exclusively on the terrorist target.  As of today we have counter-terrorist elements within the CIA, Department of Defense, FBI, and NSA.  The problem has become such a threat that it would be in our best interest to collate all the intelligence in one repository.  I think a "pseudo-effort" to accomplish this was the creation of the Director of National Intelligence, but I can't help but fear that much is lost in the transfer from one office to another.  The events of September 11 went a long way to obliging the various agencies to share trace information (thank goodness).  I hope we look towards creating this singularly-focused Agency soon.  I'm also hoping that we don't replicate too much work by searching for hundreds of different groups with different names.  They all share one moniker," the enemy", and they should receive an equal amount of our fury. 

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