November 28, 2004

So Said Al-Qa’ida

I can't seem to find the original but here is a very interesting extract and commentary on an Al Queda article entitled "So Said Al-Qa’ida: A Letter to Reuven Paz" which talks about the future of this war from the enemy's point of view. Reuven Paz runs Project for the Research of Islamist Movements. One caveat, the publication date of the article is April 1, 2004 so there is a small chance that such an article might not be genuine. I've written to Reuven Paz and asked for confirmation. Assuming this article is genuine for the moment, here are a few important clips:

The second kind of response, says ‘Atiyyatullah, was that of Muslim thinkers. They saw those writings as fictitious, or as wishful thinking. “They mocked us and said: ‘They [the Americans] toppled Taliban and forced Bin Laden to seek refuge in a cave.’” ‘Atiyyatullah responds to this saying, “Al-Qa’ida does not wage wars similar to other wars…Al-Qa’ida is completely willing to sustain the war for many years…The war will be won by the side which will be able to bear the pain longer.”

This is spot on which is why the home front work is so important. We will not be defeated in the field but only if we lose our political will and withdraw our forces from battle.

‘Atiyyatullah finds it difficult to understand how it is that the West has not yet admitted its defeat. His explanation and analysis is as follows: The West suffers from a grave problem. This problem originates from its long-time superiority in many domains including army, politics, intelligence, and economics. This superiority, says ‘Atiyyatullah, made the West think all the rest were inferior, stupid. That is why the West is now suffering from cultural and strategic confusion. That is also why it cannot admit to its defeat, and persists in seeing it as a mere security problem, which can be solved by international cooperation.

The West will eventually realize its mistake, but it will be to late, says the ideologist. “The West will not understand that its dominance is effectively defeated, until the U.S. will suffer a second attack.” Only then will the Muslim people also understand that they have the capability to win over the West, says ‘Atiyyatullah.

This is a little out of order. I think that the writer is wrong here because he doesn't properly understand the reserves of flexibility available to the West, especially in the United States. When things go badly wrong, the US switches over to a very dangerous state of radical conservatism. We don't have to do it all that often and plenty of people have lived their lives without ever seeing it happen even once. George W Bush is just such a figure and he will be very likely succeeded by another such figure. The flexibility and resilience of the US means that any idea of a sclerotic West that doesn't even realize that Islamists have strategically defeated the old means of Western dominance entirely misses the point. Defeating the old version of the West's modus operandi does not mean that you have defeated the West. It merely means that the West must come up with new methods to leverage their economic and military superiority without blowing themselves up in the process.

‘Atiyyatullah, the ideologist, sees great importance in Al-Qa’ida’s modus operandus, which does not rely on one leader. He explains that the arrest of one leader does not mean activities cease. “Each activist in Al-Qa’ida is trained in a manner that will allow him to become a leader once another leader falls.” ‘Atiyyatullah warns that the day will come when analysts will talk of the rise of the third generation of Al-Qa’ida. “This generation will be hard to deal with as it will be unknown to most of the Arab and international intelligence organizations.”

This is leaderless resistance, pure and simple. Astute national security watchers have known this was coming for, literally, decades. I expect that countermeasures have been worked on for nearly as long.

Posted by TMLutas at November 28, 2004 08:06 PM