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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Does Khorasan Exist? Does It Really Matter?

Link: Is There An Actual Group Calling Itself Khorasan In Syria/Iraq?

Wikipedia Definition Of Khorasan

Well, I certainly didn't see this coming.  According to Andrew C. McCarthy and National Review, no group calling itself "Khorasan" exists.  Andrew boldly accuses the Obama Administration of inventing Khorasan to provide an enemy with an unknown wrap sheet; a target that exemplifies the threat as the Administration wants it to appear.  This astounding accusation has taken me by complete surprise.  The commentary is not lengthy but still manages to provide a disturbing amount of supporting evidence.  McCarthy alleges that last week's bombing targets were in fact "Al-Nusra Front" locations as opposed to Khorasan.  Last week I argued that we needed to avoid getting caught in the weeds with all the various branches and groups of Islamic extremists.  I remain convinced that sunni groups with extremist religious affiliations are connected.  McCarthy believes that the Administration is disseminating the incorrect idea that Iraq, Syria, and the Near East in general are home to dozens of separate and distinct Sunni extremist groups ("Jabhat al-Nusrsa", "Al-Qaeda in al-Sharm", "Al-Qaeda in -Magreb", "Al-Qaeda on the Indian Sub-Continent", "Al-Qaeda in Yemen", and on and on) who don't coordinate their activities.  During the 2012 presidential election campaign, President Obama made great hay from the death of bin-Laden and the apparent crippling of Al-Qaeda.  This narrative supported other pillars of his foreign policy.  The enemy is splintered into a herd of squabbling, locally focused, unprofessional groups.  The U.S. military is no longer needed in Iraq or Afghanistan if Al-Qaeda is toast.  The reality is that we evacuated Iraq at a record-setting pace as our enemies, not fifteen or twenty feuding, distinct organizations but a handful of groups united under one cause, rested and watching.

Andrew managed to squeeze a ton of information and argument into a two-page commentary.  I tried to summarize it in the previous paragraph, and I fear I have not succeeded.  The first link is Andrew McCarthy's actual National Review piece.  I'll do everything I can to disseminate this commentary in social media because I believe it to be incredibly insightful.  The key to winning a war begins with knowing your enemy.  Right now we seem to be a bit confused on the matter.  Why did coalition air elements avoid all of the targets identified as "Khorasan" (U.S. jets only, no Qatari or Saudi jets, bombed Khorasan targets)?  Is it because Khorasan is actually the Al-Nusra Front, and our allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia support Al-Nusra's efforts to topple Assad in Syria?  Again, it brings me back to something we discussed last week.  The United States (note that I did not say "The Coalition") must have solid intelligence regarding the players in Syria and who they represent.  If we truly intend to build and equip an army to tackle the Islamic State on the ground, will a U.S. Officer be in command (at a distance, maybe offshore on an aircraft carrier, so his boots aren't on the ground)?  Without that type of hands-on discipline and authority, how can we expect this Army to do our bidding?  Occasionally I'm overwhelmed by this nightmare scenario of the New Syrian Army, weapons et al, deserting to the IS immediately upon completion of training.  Without troops, how can we prevent something like this taking place?  The burr in my saddle has to do with what becomes of the New Syrian Army after the job is done.  Will they turn on Assad and the regular Syrian Army?  you can bet your ass they will, and then the Russians jump into the picture.

I agree with McCarthy's assessment, but I'm not part of the "told ya so" crowd.  I want the IS wiped from the face of the planet and I want the Obama Administration to accomplish this task and add to his legacy.  I don't believe that the religious extremist terrorist groups are separate, distinct entities that seldom communicate.  I believe the network of cooperation and communication is similar to organized crime.  The goal of keeping numerous small units out in the field confuses the enemy and allows for wider access.  If a former British soldier with highly specialized explosives training is recruited on the streets of Ipswich or York or Harrogate, he will not end up swatting flies out in the middle of the Syrian desert.  He will be utilized to train operatives heading out into the field.  The communication network that the extremist community has created is probably impossible to destroy completely (especially in the UK).  We can hope to intercept calls, steal transmissions, and even occasionally bug the correct phone, but the only real way to listen in on the bad guys is through recruited assets.  We are still living in the world dominated by human intelligence (eventually it probably will be run by artificial intelligence, but who am I, Stanley Kubrick?), so lets hope that our Intelligence Organizations are having success penetrating this monster.

When I read "Vengeance: The true Story Of An Israeli Counter Terrorist Team", by George Jonas, I picked up a tremendous amount of useful information regarding Terrorist Cells in the 1960s and 1970s.  What is most fascinating is that the bad guys still do things the same way.  Old habits are hard to break, says the old cliché. Reading this book I learned that the German Terrorist Cell the "Baader-Meinhof Group" had direct contact with Palestinian and Japanese terrorists.  There is no doubt in my mind that the terrorist groups active in Syria and Iraq are bonded to each other through agenda and necessity....and hatred for the enemy.  I do not support the plan to create a surrogate army to fight the ground campaign against the IS, but since we appear to be committed to that plan, then I want it to succeed 100 percent.  Although we can't have U.S. soldiers of any rank on the front lines with the new Syrian Army we are training, I hope we will be able to direct their movement from a centralized location, i.e. offshore or from a nearby friendly country.  Giving authority to make strategic decisions to Officers within the New Syrian Army would be a mistake until they have proven that they won't immediately about-face on the battlefield and head to Damascus to settle old scores with Bashir.  We will not succeed until this coalition, and the United States diplomatic, intelligence and military elements in particular, accept the fact that we are truly facing only one enemy.  That enemy will grow stronger each time we use foreign affairs to score political points, as the minority Republicans are want to do at the moment.  National Security MUST trump all of that bullshit.

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