Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why do we legitimize Terrorism?

All of the talk about criminal v. combatant and torture [or quasi-torture] v. interrogations [they are not the same] is missing an important context. The context in question refers to what reactions and actions will cause greater harm to terror groups and least harm to us. This context refers to the jihadi psyche.

The jihadi psyche is quite often ignored or given a downgraded status in public debate, primarily because to take this context into primary consideration isn't seen as aggressive, offensive or media sexy. This context is quite often disregarded...but the disregard is shallow and shortsighted. The 'kill em all' strategy only spawns more jihadists and bears the hallmarks of Cheney's clockwork comments as dictated to his personal stenographers at Politico.

Jihadists, like the recent undie-bomber, are usually recent converts to the hardcore bent of Islam. They witness the actions of western policies, further inflamed by jihadi propaganda. They buy into the idea of several sexually inexperienced young ladies at the end of a glorious fireball for Allah. They buy into the idea that the actions of terror groups are legitimate means to the end they deem just. They, in short, are usually prepared to die....but to die as martyrs. The thought failing their assigned mission and ending up as a captive of the infidels abhors them. Being treated like a common criminal abhors them even more. The view of jihadi's being 'warriors for Allah' is a driving force behind recruitment and revenue for terror groups. Treating a captive as a warrior only steels his will in the belief that he will attain his just reward on the other side. Being treated as a criminal has a quite good chance of not only making him confront the legitimacy of his actions, but removing the facade of divine blessing upon his actions.

Trying the terrorist as a criminal won't have an immediate effect, but a sustained campaign of this approach will likely lead to the luster of jihadism wearing off for potential recruits. Getting this message spread through Muslim avenues, that terrorism is not jihadism but irhabism [terrorism] and hirabah [unholy war] the only effort that will eventually either dry up the revenue stream or force the terror groups to turn to the political process.

We cannot fight a war against 'terrorism'....terrorism is not an entity, a movement nor a target. Terrorism is a means to an end. A means that we in the west find abhorrent...but no more abhorrent than many Muslims feel about Predator strikes.

So when we post about what to do with Mr Undie-bomber...or any other captured terrorist...instead of fixating on what makes us feel victorious or safe or patriotic....take a moment to look down the road at what will end this threat instead of perpetuating it. Take a look into the psyche of a's basic intelligence doctrine. Find out what motivates the enemy and exploit that.


  1. Excellent RE. "Terrorism is a means to an end." We as a Western society are not looking at this from their point of view. The art of war is to know your enemy. We are reacting to our enemy. This takes us deeper and deeper into their abyss. Many Muslims, not even fundamentalists see our "war on terror" as a Crusade against Islam. We would not need a COIN policy, if we were not seen as invaders and occupiers.

  2. Exactly, why do we give weight to the Terrorist Actions? Better war strategists remove the symbolism from the enemies actions thereby weakening them without firing a shot.

    But, fighting laterally against Terrorism isn't how you transfer Trillions of Dollars to the Coffers of the Military Industrial Complex.

  3. RE -- great post. Actually, better than almost all the articles showered on us by the media punditry. It should be really simple: terrorism = unlawful combat and criminal conduct, prosecuted as such.

    Personally, I remain amazed that states are committed to the "war on terrorism" model; applying existing law against politically motivated criminals actually strengthens the power of the government. Employing the kinetic, combat-oriented "kill them all" model only makes more terrorists, radicalizes populations and weakens state authority. And using mercenaries as part of your counter-terrorism program REALLY accelerates the dissolution of a state's authority.

    Too bad "terrorism is a crime" model is not as sexy (or profitable) as using military combat forces to "wipe them out." So long as that is true, there will be little movement towards treating terrorism as the crime that it is.



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