First, I’ll believe it when al Qaeda acknowledges it.
This of course won’t stop the chest beating celebrating his killing.
And if he has in fact been killed, I wonder if those who think this is a victory (and those supporting the strategy of extrajudicial killings more generally) have given ample thought to the fact that he along with others who have been assassinated were actually a moderating force within a far more virulent current that has taken hold in the milieu. And yes, given his teachings I do note a certain irony in this, but sadly, it’s true.
What is coming next is a generation whose ideological positions are more virulent and who owing to the removal of older figures with clout, are less likely to be amenable to restraining their actions. And contrary to popular belief, actions have been restrained. Attacks have thus far been used strategically rather than indiscriminately. Just take a look at AQ’s history and its documents and this is blatantly clear.
In the years to come, owing to this generation being killed off, this type of restraint will disappear; in fact it is clearly already heading in this direction. A significant part of this change is directly attributable to the counter terrorism strategies being employed today. I’m working on a more detailed, research driven piece on this. But in the meantime, the best way of summing up the consequences of a strategy of killing off leadership instead of using a criminal justice approach lies with what happened in a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa many years ago.
A culling program was implemented to kill off all the older generation elephants owing to overcrowding. Juveniles were spared. However, without the presence of the older elephants they then proceeded to go on rampages, killing other animals and causing such havoc that the rangers thought they’d have to cull them too. Until that is, someone chanced upon the idea of bringing in older elephants from another wildlife park, who ended up bringing the juveniles into line and enforcing discipline, something that had been missing since the cull of the older generation.
Right now you’re probably scoffing at this. Scoff away, because this example has come up time and time again in conversations I’ve had with folks who know this milieu very well because they’ve lived in it. Along with it has been concern expressed for the future, for what will happen when authoritative voices who can restrain the actions of those left and, importantly, those newer folks still seeking to join the cause, no longer exist. When indiscriminate becomes the norm.
So before anyone goes off celebrating another “number” in the death count, it is worthwhile remembering there will be consequences from this short sighted and reactionary path chosen to deal with threat. These consequences will not play out in areas where extrajudicial killings take place, but in indiscriminate attacks in capital cities in the west. I wonder then how those who advocate the current policy plan to deal with this and the implications it will pose for the social contract. But hey, they’re “winning” right????
Hi folks, I have a new article out at The Conversation focusing on what the recent merger between al Qaeda and al Shabab means for Australia.
Comments as always are welcome. Cheers.
Hello folks, well it’s a been a while since I’ve ventured onto the blog. A little bit of burn out coupled with a plate full of other exciting projects means I’ve let it slide. I’ll be getting back into it, but you may find a change of direction coming because I find myself increasingly disenchanted with the current state of play. In particular, I have an issue with the increasingly unaccountable nature of counter terrorism and the militarisation of CT more generally–as well reactions to acts of terror (or fear of them) that belie the values of democratic nations and human rights, not to mention being outright counter productive. And don’t even get me started on disengagement and CVE. But for now, I’m finishing up book research, juggling some other writing, and job hunting, which is keeping me busy. But hopefully that begins to subside soon.
Anyway, for those interested, here are links to two pieces I wrote recently.
One is on al Qaeda’s operational resilience, which I wrote last November, but was only published last month. This article originally appeared in “Al-Qaeda’s Senior Leadership”, a publication of IHS Defense, Security and Risk Consulting, in January 2012. Reproduced with permission © IHS (Global) Limited. All rights reserved.
Happy reading, and feedback is as always, welcome.
Hello all. I’m back. Sort of. At least I’m going to attempt to start blogging again as I try now to play post move catch ups. My reading pile is nightmarish, but hopefully I’ll get through it soon. Have a few book reviews and article reviews in the works and maybe even a blog overhaul (but I’m still pondering whether to do that or not).
Anyway, those of you who follow me on twitter may have already seen me tweet about this . But for those of you who are not on twitter, do read this great piece on how al Qaeda is explained by my friend and sometime critic Joanne Lock.
“I don’t understand how somebody could buy the land for $48,000, get the building permits, get a contractor, build for a period of time what is essentially the largest home compound in the area, where somebody lives for five years, and nobody asks who’s there or finds out who’s there,” she said.
I racked up many years in Canberra, and believe me so long as OBL & family snuck in to a house in a darkened car he could have lived undetected there too. In fact, he could probably have wandered around in pseudo disguise without much bother since most Canberrans go out of their way to avoid eye contact or saying hello. Yes, I’m a bit bitter and twisted from my experience there, being from the much friendlier state of Qld, but in all seriousness if no one saw him go in why would they think to ask it, which was pretty much probably the whole reason he was there.
Obviously a lot of questions have to be asked as to how and why he got there, but really.
Records going missing is pretty dodgy though, if true.
JulieAnn McKellog has done a great job pulling together this piece on al-Qaeda, so make sure you visit and have a look.
And do listen to Noman Benotman for some fascinating insight and excellent analysis. Also offering some great input and analysis from a range of different perspectives are Jarret Brachman, Bruce Hoffman, Don Rassler, and Fawaz Gerges.
A big shout out to JulieAnn (@jmckellogg on twitter) for her hard work on this piece, her attention to detail and for sewing it all together so well.
Am a bit behind in posting but for those who may not have seen it, FP/NAF’s AfPak channel had a roundtable with a few of us writing down some thoughts on al-Zawahiri’s appointment as amir.
You can find it here http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/06/16/the_zawahiri_era_begins
I also spoke with The Takeaway recently on what the future holds for al Qaeda, which you can find here
There’s more to come in the next little while as I slowly make my way through my list of things to write about either in article form, or here on the blog.