This is a bit of a mixed post, because it’s 5am and I’m sick of fixing my bibliography and it’s too late to go to bed, so I thought what the hell I’ll blog.
Thought I’d do a little round up of the news
First up is Yassin’s fascinating piece about Attiyatallah being killed in Pakistan, and Saif al Adel returning to the field, which you can find here.
A return to the field by al-Adel will have some serious impacts across a range of AQ’s operational activities, but more on that in a later post.
Second up is a piece by Chris on AQ’s media evolution or rather devolution, which you can find here.
This makes for excellent and thought provoking reading especially for me, when my own personal take has been more reductionist and roughly equates to one comment: Adam Gadahn is now in charge of AQ media. He’s got in the innovation levels of a rock. Surely AQ can do better than him.
Third up is a piece by Aaron, on his thoughts and analysis of Adam’s newest video, which you can find here, and is an excellent read too.
I’ve been stewing these three pieces together because collectively they highlight some strengths and weaknesses in AQ and give a good overview of what may be taking place in its two most important areas of operation: media and external operations, neither of which has exactly gone great for them lately. Having said that, by their metric they’re not doing too badly; causing a several country wide alert, and then the media hype around AQ and their franchise media, which really just gives them more political oxygen, and a few lionised new leaders to boot (hello Awlaki). Mind you, I can’t see OBL tolerating Awlaki or anyone else rising too far up the foodchain. The million dollar question is whether he can do anything about it, which kind of brings the question full circle back to what a re-entry by al-Adel provides AQ.
Another thing I’ve been contemplating this morning is the issue of sentence reductions and people being released more generally.
We’ve just seen several guys from the Pendennis trial have their sentences reduced, and a few have already been released. See here
In Canada I think the last of the Osage guys were sentenced for the Toronto 18 plot, getting a similar term to the leader of the Pendennis plot here in Oz. See here.
The thing is that in both instances quite a few of these guys only have a few years jail time left. And as far I know there is no rehabilitation or de-radicalisation programs within the prison system of either country. And I don’t think that many of them have recanted–at least here.
While we have control orders here, which will help manage those guys when they get out, this is no panacea, and they’re not indefinite. It is a glaring shortcoming and one that is going to become increasingly prominent in a number of countries as people begin to finish their prison sentences.
Yet, there’s been nothing done on developing or instituting a program. Talk about an Achilles heel and one that will be costly too in terms of managing what comes after guys like this get released.
And last, there’s some analysis done by Greg Carlstrom about AQ in Iraq, which you can find here.
This is the money section for me:
Today, Al Qaeda does not exist in Iraq as a single entity. Its mantle has been taken on by a disparate range of groups inspired by its ideology, but lacking the resources and popular support that marked out their predecessor.
In truth, the Wikileaks Iraq war files tell us little that we did not already know about al-Qaeda in Iraq. But they do serve to underline the great irony of the US war in Iraq; that the invasion, billed as part of the so-called “war on terror”, did more to inspire al-Qaeda activity in Iraq than it did to undermine it.
It is an irony that has not been lost on former spymaster Manningham-Buller. “Arguably, we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad,” she said earlier this year.
The thousands of incidents detailed in the leaked documents show just how grateful al-Qaeda was
Zarqawi went to Iraq with 16 people; that was it. What grew from them, came solely from our own actions, as Manningham-Buller notes. For anyone advocating the merits of a military response this should be food for thought. This is not to say it’s not sometimes necessary, but it is time to address the elephant in the room: that occupation not only drives insurgency but it is the life force of AQ. We need to better understand this before we consider any future action in a similar vein.
On that cheery note I guess I had better go back and do some work so that I can get back to this blog full time and the long list of things I still have to finish.