Transnational movements and terrorism.
National and international security now involves nonstate actors to an extent unprecedented in modern history. Transnational movements and substate groups have tremendous power both to contribute to the greater good and to bring about violence, death, and repression. The most prominent such threat arises from transnational Salafi jihadism, of which al Qaeda is the standard bearer. Al Qaeda and the larger movement that presently command America's attention remain serious threats for two primary reasons. First, this movement threatens the use of weapons of mass destruction Weapons that are capable of a high order of destruction and/or of being used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people. Weapons of mass destruction can be high explosives or nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological weapons, but exclude the means of transporting or , though its ability to do so in the near term is questionable. Second, the movement's ability to create humanitarian dystopias, as in Afghanistan and Iraq's Anbar Province, among other places, remains significant and should not be underestimated.
Nevertheless, the movement has substantial weaknesses. (1) It finds itself surrounded by opponents that include not only the Western democracies but also the media, the governments in majority Muslim countries This is a list of countries which have a majority of Muslim people using data from the CIA World Factbook. Please note that sources differ on the state of Ethiopia. Ethiopia has about 35% Muslim citizens. At 45% Muslim, Guinea-Bissau nearly makes the list. , mainstream Muslims, and even other Islamists. Moreover, it is becoming clear that the Muslim community's familiarity with al Qaeda and its ilk is breeding contempt, not converts.
Recent poll results underscore some of these points. Gallup polls taken across the Muslim world The term Muslim world (or Islamic world) has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Muslims, adherents of Islam. This community numbers about 1.5-2 billion people, about one-fourth of the world. make clear that many Muslims, justifiably or not, are extremely skeptical about U.S. actions and policies, but that these feelings do not translate into support for al Qaeda and its associates. In fact, only 7 percent of Muslims, some 91 million people, "fully support" the attacks of September 11, 2001, with another 7 percent leaning toward supporting it.
Clearly, then, the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. has some fence-mending to do among Muslims. The terrorism problem, however, is much smaller in extent than even Gallup's numbers indicate. Al Qaeda and likeminded groups boast as members only a fraction of 1 percent of the 91 million Muslims who may have celebrated September 11. Arguably, this suggests that increasing America's popularity among Muslims, while desirable in itself, is an inefficient way to shrink the number of Salafi jihadists. Indeed, some of America's staunchest allies against al Qaeda--such as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood Muslim Brotherhood, officially Jamiat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun [Arab.,=Society of Muslim Brothers], religious and political organization founded (1928) in Egypt by Hasan al-Banna. , the Iranian regime, many radical preachers, and even the much maligned ma·lign
tr.v. ma·ligned, ma·lign·ing, ma·ligns
To make evil, harmful, and often untrue statements about; speak evil of.
1. Evil in disposition, nature, or intent.
2. Arab media--may be some of our staunchest foes on other issues. In short, an approach to the contest in which the United States remains active but does not insist on putting its actions (especially the military ones) at center stage may be most effective.
Looking to the future, technology, notably biological technology, is in the process of "super-empowering" not just small groups such as terrorist organizations, gangs, organized criminal networks, anarchists, and ultra-extreme environmentalists, but even Unabomber-style individuals. An appropriate response to this emerging threat will need to be an "all-of-society" response.
The Salafi Movement Noun 1. Salafi movement - a militant group of extremist Sunnis who believe themselves the only correct interpreters of the Koran and consider moderate Muslims to be infidels; seek to convert all Muslims and to insure that its own fundamentalist version of Islam will
A particularly idiosyncratic id·i·o·syn·cra·sy
n. pl. id·i·o·syn·cra·sies
1. A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.
2. A physiological or temperamental peculiarity.
3. understanding of the Sunni Islamic faith called "Salafi jihadism" by its practitioners underpins al Qaeda and inspires more than 100 kindred terrorist groups around the world, not to mention numerous isolated groups or even individuals. (2) Salafi jihadism is a minority, reactionary viewpoint within a wider acrimonious debate among Muslims about how to reconcile the progress and frustration unleashed across the Islamic world by modernization and globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation . (3) Though many Muslims (and, for that matter, non-Muslims) are concerned about the implications of globalization, only a tiny minority of Sunnis adhere to adhere to
verb 1. follow, keep, maintain, respect, observe, be true, fulfil, obey, heed, keep to, abide by, be loyal, mind, be constant, be faithful
2. the stern tenets of this harsh and xenophobic xen·o·phobe
A person unduly fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or foreign peoples.
xen worldview world·view
n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group. , which calls for the formation of a caliphate--an Islamic superstate superstate
a large state, esp. one created from a federation of states stretching from Spain to Indonesia--and the conversion of all other Muslims from their purportedly innovative, unfounded, and corrupt beliefs. (It is important to note that the destruction of the United States is not among the goals of Salafi jihadists per se, though many and perhaps most of them would be happy to see it happen. Instead, they desire to see the United States quit the Muslim world as part of a process to topple corrupt regimes and hasten the beginning of the caliphate caliphate (kăl`ĭfāt', -fĭt), the rulership of Islam;
caliph (kăl`ĭf'), the spiritual head and temporal ruler of the Islamic state. .)
Present Trends. American policymakers have recently been confronted with dramatically differing analyses of the health of and risk posed by al Qaeda and the rest of the Salafi jihadist Noun 1. Jihadist - a Muslim who is involved in a jihad
Moslem, Muslim - a believer in or follower of Islam community. One line of analysis argues that al Qaeda, operating from its safe haven 1. Designated area(s) to which noncombatants of the United States Government's responsibility and commercial vehicles and materiel may be evacuated during a domestic or other valid emergency.
2. along the Afghan-Pakistan border, remains the source of the gravest threat for catastrophic terror. (4) The contending perspective is that al Qaeda's operational decline renders it less salient to international security concerns than the growing threat from diffuse, low-level groups emerging out of local social networks and acting out of a shared belief in the Salafi jihadist mass media message. (5) What are global policymakers to think? Can both of these perspectives be correct? If not, which threat is more severe?
Ultimately, the question of whether al Qaeda itself or its relatively diffuse constellation of loosely affiliated coreligionists poses the greater threat may be moot. Both are substantial threats. Each requires a tailored response from its opponents. On the one hand, the al Qaeda-led globalized variant is more intellectually adaptable within its ideological commitment to nonstop jihad, but it faces major structural challenges. It has the greater ability to mount narrow but devastating attacks, as its track record makes clear. On the other hand, the surrounding movement with its violence-prone group of men poses a more widespread but less physically potent threat. There is growing evidence that the multifaceted approach to countering Sunni terrorism that has evolved in the past few years, with a concentration on denying al Qaeda its desired outcomes, is showing signs of success. While American strategy for countering terrorism can, of course, be improved, policymakers should use caution to avoid discarding methods that are known to work in their zeal to get rid of what has not.
Overview of the Threat. In organizational and strategic terms, the Salafi jihadists have faced substantial setbacks over the last several years. The United States and its partners have continued to kill or capture key leaders regularly, such as a succession of operational chiefs of al Qaeda central and a string of successive leaders of "al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Arabian Peninsula
Peninsular region, southwest Asia. With its offshore islands, it covers about 1 million sq mi (2.6 million sq km). Constituent countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and, the largest, Saudi Arabia. ." There have been similar successes against Jamaah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia and against other groups large and small across the globe. Important leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Arabic: أبومصعب الزرقاوي, , have been killed or captured. Moreover, the overall Salafi jihadist position in Iraq is, as of this writing, grim, under relentless American military pressure, and facing increasingly capable Iraqi services and the Sunni tribal "Awakening." In sum, because of the combined pressures of various national security services Security services are state institutions for the provision of intelligence, primarily of a strategic nature, but also including protective security intelligence. Examples include the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the United Kingdom, and the and the military, intelligence, and law enforcement resources of the United States, al Qaeda and its allies find it hard to operate in most places on the globe.
At the same time, the movement has arguably made a grave strategic blunder. By allowing Zarqawi to reorient Re`o´ri`ent
a. 1. Rising again.
The life reorient out of dust.
Verb 1. attention of the Salafi jihadists in Iraq and, indeed, in the entire Middle East, toward attacking the Shia, it took on an additional adversary, both ideological and physical, while it was still grappling with the formidable alliance of the "Jews, Crusaders, and [Sunni] apostates." This was not part of Osama bin Laden's or Ayman al-Zawahiri's master plan, for they always felt that the Shia would be quickly eliminated late in the process of forming a caliphate, when the numbers of Sunni "true believers" would form an overwhelming weight to wield against Shia heretics. (6) As a result of these developments, almost nowhere in the world is there a truly permissive environment See: operational environment. for the operation of Salafi jihadists.
Nevertheless, al Qaeda and the broader movement have been adapting in a number of ways. First, al Qaeda has worked hard to reestablish a physical safe haven in Pakistan, and especially within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), also known as Ilaak-e-Ghair in Pakistan are areas of Pakistan outside the four provinces, comprising a region of some 27,220 km² (10,507 sq mi). (FATA). Al Qaeda requires a place of physical freedom to practice the management of a proto-caliphate, to congregate in an unfettered manner, and to plan and launch spectacular acts of terrorism against its opponents. Al Qaeda strategists are incessantly writing to each other about the good old days in Afghanistan (between the expulsion of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the post-9/11 invasion), and the need to generate a similar safe haven soon. They lament the loss of the once-promising safe haven in Iraq, particularly in Anbar Province, largely blaming Zarqawi's intemperance A lack of moderation. Habitual intemperance is that degree of intemperance in the use of intoxicating liquor which disqualifies the person a great portion of the time from properly attending to business. Habitual or excessive use of liquor. Cross-references
Alcohol. . Today, al Qaeda's strategists are trying to establish a permanent safe haven in Pakistan's border areas adjacent Afghanistan. Intense efforts since late 2005 have produced results. After only a few years, al Qaeda stands on the cusp of attaining its first significant safe haven since the Taliban fell in 2002. In alliance with young and highly militant Pakistani-Pashtun allies, al Qaeda has overthrown most of the tribal elder system in western Pakistan and routinely embarrassed the Pakistani military. Many of the major attacks planned and executed against Western targets since 2002--including the London 7/7 bombings, the United Kingdom- U.S. airliner plot of 2006, and the Frankfurt airport Frankfurt Airport (IATA: FRA, ICAO: EDDF), known in German as Rhein-Main-Flughafen or Flughafen Frankfurt am Main, is located near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. plot of 2007--had common origins in western Pakistan and featured direct contact between key attackers and al Qaeda leaders.
Second, al Qaeda has expanded its formal franchisee arrangements with heretofore loosely affiliated Salafi jihadist groups. Al Qaeda's leadership has tried to formalize relationships and stamp the al Qaeda brand name on all forms of regional Salafi jihadist and insurgent INSURGENT. One who is concerned in an insurrection. He differs from a rebel in this, that rebel is always understood in a bad sense, or one who unjustly opposes the constituted authorities; insurgent may be one who justly opposes the tyranny of constituted authorities. activity. At the same time, these groups seek their share of the prestige, and often funding, that goes with the "al Qaeda" name and reach out to it. For instance, in 2004, Zarqawi's Iraqi group was assimilated into the movement as "al Qaeda of the Two Rivers," a reference not only to Iraq, but also to the wider territory extending toward southwestern Iran and Kuwait. Similarly, in early 2007, distinct references to "al Qaeda of Khoristan" (al Qaeda in Afghanistan, eastern Iran, and western Pakistan), and the announcement of its leader, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, began to appear on the al Jazeera Web site, with reference to that jihadist group's evolving status as the Arab partner to the Taliban. Then, in September 2007, the longstanding Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC Noun 1. GSPC - an Algerian extremist Islamic offshoot of the Armed Islamic Group; now the largest and most active armed terrorist group in Algeria that seeks to overthrow the government; a major source of support and recruitment for al-Qaeda operations in Europe and ) in Algeria announced formal affiliation with al Qaeda and changed its name to the "al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb" (AQIM). These moves extend al Qaeda's reach and reinforce the Salafi jihadists' narrative that a fundamentalist Sunni caliphate is borderless and destined to encompass the entire Islamic world. They also enhance previously informal communications and terror management conduits and potentially extend al Qaeda access to underdeveloped terror recruiting networks such as those affiliated with Algerian GSPC across France and in other parts of Western Europe.
By way of contrast, Salafi jihadists have only a limited ability to forge alliances with Muslims who are not Salafi jihadists, even those with whom they have very substantial theological similarities. For instance, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and al Qaeda on the other, are constantly at daggers drawn, in particular over issues of the propriety of electoral politics and the relative value of violent and nonviolent aspects of the jihad.
Policy Considerations. The United States will continue carrying out defensive measures to protect itself and its allies against terrorist attacks. The difficult questions are what forms of offensive action should be undertaken, and by whom. Fortunately, and as noted above, the fundamental strategic situation is grim for al Qaeda and the other Salafi jihadists. The movement is under tremendous stress and has failed to attract genuine adherents despite its media efforts, the once-high popularity of Osama bin Laden Osama bin Laden: see bin Laden, Osama. , and the fact that the U.S. prosecution of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is widely unpopular across the Islamic world. (7)
The problem, from the Salafi jihadist perspective, all other things being equal, is the more Muslims are exposed to its indiscriminate violence, the less they support al Qaeda and the movement it represents. As many have argued--including those who still see al Qaeda as tremendously dangerous--the movement is inherently self-limiting. (8)
The United States, ironically, is the best friend the Salafi jihadists have. The Salafi jihadists want the United States to use its military power extensively because they believe such actions help to mobilize Sunni Muslims to become Salafi jihadists. It is also worth remembering that what most contributes to anti-Americanism in the Islamic world is the perception that U.S. policies unfairly dictate how things must be. Reducing the visible American profile in the world would undercut Salafi jihadism at least to the extent that it can take the edge off of anti-Americanism. To this effect, the United States might wish to support regional programs that grow responsible local paramilitary and law enforcement capacity in Sunni Muslim states. Building local partner capacity, along with intelligence-sharing to help constrain the ability of organized Salafi jihadist terror groups to topple these regimes, might undercut the effectiveness of the terrorists while reducing America's military profile.
The United States must recognize that it is in a similar position to the terrorists. Not surprisingly, given its preponderance, the more it uses coercive force, the more it is likely to be seen as a threatening power. Arguably, the more visible the United States is, with the notable exception of manifestly humanitarian missions, the less it is liked. Indeed, al Qaeda usually wants the United States to act, believing that American actions will inevitably valial date their narrative. Accordingly, the United States must avoid falling into a maximalist max·i·mal·ist
One who advocates direct or radical action to secure a social or political goal in its entirety: "the maximalists . . . who want the undivided land" Arthur Hertzberg. , activist, and interventionist approach. In addition, it must not make the mistake--too often committed by both sides of the political system--of believing that it alone has power and agency and the other peoples around the world have none. Furthermore, Washington must recognize the limits of its power, not only because America's intrinsic capabilities to deal with this (and any other) problem are finite, but also because Muslims themselves will always outnumber Americans in Muslim countries, and they have positional and cultural advantages over the United States. But Washington still has numerous potential partners in fighting Salafi jihadist extremism. These range all the way from the governments of Indonesia, Syria, and Iran, to Hamas and many other Islamist groups, to al Jazeera, to the United Nations (UN), to traditional allies such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Policymakers have a range of cooperative techniques available for dealing with these countries and groups, ranging from unwitting, to tacit, to covert, to overt.
The most important potential partners for the United States are Sunni Muslims, who have credible voices with other Muslims. Salafi jihadists' complaints suggest that most of those in the Islamic world are against them. If it is going to take full advantage of this fact, the United States might continue to quietly support Muslim voices opposing Salafi jihadism, while improving activities in areas where unacceptable al Qaeda strength remains, notably in the safe haven of western Pakistan.
Several other policy considerations stand out:
* Proposed changes in U.S. counterterrorism coun·ter·ter·ror
Intended to prevent or counteract terrorism: counterterror measures; counterterror weapons.
Action or strategy intended to counteract or suppress terrorism. policy should be measured against the possible harm from degrading what has already proved successful in the struggle against Salafi jihadism and al Qaeda. It is clear that an al Qaeda under pressure is less tactically and strategically effective. Similarly, the Salafi jihadist movement has, at various points in its 40-year history, seemingly been contained or reduced to manageable levels in selected countries. When the pressure was removed, the movement always rebounded.
* While the United States wishes to be liked in the Muslim world, it is clear that America's unpopularity is largely unrelated to the health of Salafi jihadism. Thus, policymakers may wish to carefully scrutinize calls for more and better strategic messaging campaigns to counter the social critique of Salafi jihadism. Reform of Islamic societies under the leadership of mainstream Muslims is most likely to render the Salafi jihadi Adj. 1. jihadi - of or relating to a jihad social critique impotent. This reform will take time, but Western governments may be able to help indirectly by continuing to encourage temperate Muslim reformers and visionaries, while avoiding heavy-handed gestures and pompous demands for immediate change. To the extent that direct Western efforts can help, these need to be seen and not heard. By the same token, Western leaders may wish to take every opportunity to provide significant, visible assistance to Muslim victims of flooding, earthquakes, famine, and other natural disasters. As was the case with U.S. assistance to Pakistani Muslim victims of the November 2005 earthquake, and Indonesian Muslim victims of the December 2004 tsunami, such overt assistance will slowly but surely erode general Muslim beliefs that the West is only about subjugating and exploiting Muslims.
* The United States can provide additional indirect support for the growing number of Muslim critics of Salafi jihadism. Washington might encourage the natural tendency of Muslims who have been victims of the violence to speak out before fellow Muslims, for it is these voices that carry the most weight in discrediting the Salafi jihadist ideology.
* Most importantly for 2009, American and allied leaders will have to face the major threat posed by al Qaeda and the Salafi jihadist ideology: the terrorist safe haven in western Pakistan. A collaborative effort to fully and firmly engage the Pakistanis in order to eradicate al Qaeda may be indispensible to preventing another 9/11. The approach most likely to succeed will frame the safe haven in Pakistan as part of the more general problem with jihadism in terms of an ongoing Pakistani security strategy, and address this wider problem in the context of a reformulated South Asia security arrangement.
In short, Salafi jihadism remains dangerous. It is a threat that is irregular in nature but is easy to understand because it is an open mass movement with universal aspirations. It can be penetrated nearly at will, however, whether for collecting information or influencing its actions. This is a different problem from competing with closed societies such as the former Soviet Union. Salafi jihadists are remarkably open in discussing and debating their strategies, weaknesses, fears, and vulnerabilities. The United States might thus profitably invest more in its ability as a nation to "know the enemy," which is the wider movement of Salafi jihadism. Washington can then tailor its strategies to exploit the movement's growing vulnerabilities in the Muslim world, while simultaneously taking only prudent offensive actions that inhibit catastrophic terrorism and supporting ongoing Muslim efforts to marginalize mar·gin·al·ize
tr.v. mar·gin·al·ized, mar·gin·al·iz·ing, mar·gin·al·iz·es
To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing. the Salafi jihadist ideology across the Islamic world.
Even as nations adjust to fighting today's combination of insurgencies and terror groups, political, economic, social, and technical trends are setting the conditions for conflicts that may involve even smaller but potentially more powerful entities. These players could range from super-empowered individuals and small groups unified by a cause, to gangs and other criminal enterprises motivated primarily by profit.
Key Issues. These new developments are of particular concern because emerging political, business, and social structures have consistently been more successful at using nascent technology than older, established organizations. Today, two emerging technologies, nanotechnology and biotechnology, have the power to alter our world--and warfare--more fundamentally than information technology has.
Even before these technologies mature, the fragility of globalization means it is imperative to prepare for significant shocks. In many ways, military and business problems are merging as the world becomes more interconnected and power is driven downward. In 2006, a score of angry Nigerians took hostages from a Shell Oil Company oil platform in the Gulf of Guinea Noun 1. Gulf of Guinea - a gulf off the southwest coast of Africa
Bioko - an island in the Gulf of Guinea that is part of Equatorial Guinea
Atlantic, Atlantic Ocean - the 2nd largest ocean; separates North and South America on the west from Europe and Africa . In response, Shell shut down its Nigerian Delta production and world oil prices rose dramatically, demonstrating how vulnerable our interconnected world is to disruptions in key commodities, and how business issues can rapidly become matters of international security. This is not the same as in the "banana wars" of the early 20th century, in which U.S. Marines were consistently committed to protect American business interests that mattered only to a few stockholders. Today, tiny armed groups can affect the entire world's economy immediately and dramatically.
Fragility in the oil supply system is duplicated in a number of key elements in the international supply chain, including rail and shipping bottlenecks. To prevent minor damage from translating into a major economic shock, these systems need excess capacity. Yet businesses are rightly reluctant to pay for surplus capacity "just in case," since it makes them less competitive in an increasingly competitive world market.
At the same time that globalization has created a more interconnected and fragile economic system, small groups and even individuals now have access to much more powerful weapons. Using the leaderless resistance model of the Animal Liberation Front The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a name used internationally by those who, through the means of direct action, oppose the use of animals as property or resources through capitalizing on the destruction and experimentation of animals. (ALF ALF - Algebraic Logic Functional language ) and, increasingly, some Islamist terrorist groups, these players can use materials available in modern society to attack it. These range from the simple arson attacks conducted by ALF, to the attempted chlorine attacks by al Qaeda in Iraq, to the potential for major chemical attacks based on a Bhopal-type accident, to nuclear-equivalent detonations modeled after the 1947 Texas City disaster. The remarkable growth of innovation in synthetic biology means there is a high probability that within the next 10 years, small groups will be able to create lethal viruses, including smallpox, from commercially available DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
or deoxyribonucleic acid
One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes. . The possibility of a planned, worldwide release of smallpox gives small groups access to a potential lethality equal to dozens of nuclear weapons.
One of the crucial issues facing the developed world, and the United States and its allies in particular, is the mismatch between investments in defense and the potential threats. The earlier forms of war will continue to coexist with newer kinds of threats represented by small groups and gangs. Therefore, future conflict is likely to cover an enormously broad spectrum, from small groups conducting single actions, to Hizballah-type movements, to nation-state wars--in essence, hybrid war. Increasing the complexity of these conflicts, most clashes will involve a multitude of players with widely varying objectives. The United States and its allies must be prepared to fight these hybrid wars, but unfortunately, our current investment in national defense is still skewed heavily toward external, nation-state wars.
The Future. As noted above, future enemies will make use of the entire spectrum of warfare and crime to achieve their goals. Some will have traditional political ambitions of controlling territory or coercing behavior in rival states, others will pursue purely criminal goals, and still others will want to achieve a mix. Finally, some fear that a relatively new entrant, radical environmentalists, might attack in defense of the "planet."
For the United States, the absence of a peer competitor in the short to medium term poses particularly difficult questions. While the United States will have to be prepared to fight across the spectrum, even the Department of Defense, in its 2008 report to Congress on China's military power, suggested that a China out-of-area threat would probably not emerge until the 2020s. Similarly, a "near peer" competitor to Washington is not likely to materialize over the next decade or more. Meanwhile, the threats to U.S. forces in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan obviously will remain priority considerations for some time. Beyond those considerations, however, the United States and its allies will have to be aware of what could cause serious harm at home.
Third-generation transnational criminal gangs represent both a direct and an indirect threat to security. First, they may have already gained physical control in parts of the United States, Europe, and elsewhere--a neighborhood in one city, an apartment block in another, or an apartment complex in a suburb elsewhere. These gangs are essentially leaderless networks that answer to no single authority, but have extended unchallenged use of force over noncontiguous spaces in the United States and overseas. They directly challenge the legitimacy of civil rule within parts of America. States and cities lack the resources to control them. Indirectly, gang violence compels migration by increasing political and civil instability in the "home" countries. This instability, combined with looming population and resource crises south of the U.S.-Mexico border, could force major migrations of people with no other choice. Gangs and cartels are fighting to establish mini narco-states in various nations in Central America and Mexico. They do not want control of the entire state, simply enough to provide a secure base for their operations and to enjoy their wealth.
A more distant nonstate threat may be that of environmental activists. Of course, the vast majority of environmentalists are law-abiding; however, a few believe their ends justify violent means. Usually, this violence amounts to small-scale criminal activity. But one could imagine the emergence of a more radicalized fringe movement, driven by a fervent belief that governments are ruining the planet. Thus, a loose, violent antiglobalization movement could take hold, albeit this time with access to highly disruptive means, whether cyberterrorism See cyberwar and information warfare. or a radiological attack to demonstrate dangers associated with nuclear power. To date, their attacks have been limited to minor nuisance attacks. However, as globalization affects people at higher levels of education (computer programmers, radiologists, and biotechnicians, for instance), some of those displaced workers will inevitably lend their skills to efforts to reduce globalization. This may well take the form of attacks on the communications and transportation systems that create globalization.
The most dangerous attacks probably would emanate from apocalyptic groups. Their causes would vary, but they are likely to be driven by an absolute belief in what they do. In particular, these groups may look to exploit the advances in synthetic biology, as well as the possibilities of other weapons of mass destruction. Belief in their cause will provide the moral justification for mass destruction of fellow human beings, as well as allay concerns about the number of their own personnel who will inevitably die.
Finally, the United States must consider how other states will react to the increasing power flowing to small groups. While some states will use them for their own purposes, most states fear this threat to their own sovereignty. Washington must take advantage of the common interest in stopping such apocalyptic attacks to build relationships with other nation-states. Containing this type of emerging small-actor threat should be a challenge around which developed nations can fully cooperate.
All-of-society Response. These potential threats will be extremely difficult for governments to counteract. A defense against them must involve all of society. Just as insurgency requires all elements of government to work together to defeat it, the challenge of super-empowered leaderless groups will require all elements of society to defeat them.
Creating an all-of-society defense will be difficult but not impossible. There are already models of such defenses, the most obvious being the protection of the Internet. It is being attacked daily by what is essentially a leaderless array of networks and individuals. In response, a leaderless network has developed to defend it. While some elements of the defense are sophisticated organizations, the vast majority simply follow basic rules: never run a system without an updated protection package, and never open emails from unknown senders. This creates the emergent intelligence that has, to date, protected the Internet from another computer virus such as the "Love Bug" that caused worldwide damage in 2000. Other examples of successful defense are crime control through community participation and disease control through a network of public health officers.
The key issue for developing all-of-society defenses against various threats is developing the rule sets that allow all elements of society to participate without having any specific individual or agency in command. This may well be the legitimate role of the Federal Government. Only it has the resources to bring together the entire range of players--all levels of government, business, academia, the media, and others--to discuss and game possible threats, and develop the rule sets that will allow a global, leaderless, emergent, and intelligent response.
(1) Marc Sageman has made this argument about the movement being self-limiting in his Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-first Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press The University of Pennsylvania Press (or Penn Press) was originally incorporated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on 26 March 1890, and the imprint of the University of Pennsylvania Press first appeared on publications in the closing decade of the nineteenth , 2008). So, in a different way, do Mark E. Stout et al., The Terrorist Perspectives Project: Strategic and Operational Views of al Qaida and Associated Movements (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008).
(2) The bunch of guys A Bunch of Guys (BOGs), or Group of Guys (GOGs) are terms used by counter-terrorism officials to refer to small, self-organizing terrorist cells. BOGs typically have little to no contact with global terrorist groups like al Qaeda, so they independently plan and formulation originates with Marc Sageman.
(3) Michael Scott Doran, "Somebody Else's Civil War," presentation given at "How Did this Happen? Terrorism and the New War," meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an influential and independent, nonpartisan foreign policy membership organization founded in 1921 and based at 58 East 68th Street (corner Park Avenue) in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C. , December 17, 2001.
(4) This position, articulated by notable terrorism experts Bruce Reidel ("Al Qaeda Strikes Back," Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007) and Bruce Hoffman ("Why Al Qaeda Still Matters," Foreign Affairs, May/June 2008, his rebuttal rebuttal n. evidence introduced to counter, disprove or contradict the opposition's evidence or a presumption, or responsive legal argument. to Marc Sageman's Leaderless Jihad), was buttressed by the July 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate and in public testimony by the Director of National Intelligence, Michael McConnell, throughout early 2008.
(5) See Audrey Kurth Cronin, Ending Terrorism: Lessons for Defeating al Qaeda, Adelphi Paper 394 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is a British research institute (or think tank) in the area of international affairs. It describes itself as "the world’s leading authority on political-military conflict". , November 2007); and Marc Sageman, among others.
(6) The al Qaeda grand strategy of "Vexation VEXATION. The injury or damage which, is suffered in consequence of the tricks of another. and Exhaustion," with a primary focus on the United States, the West, and "apostate" Muslim autocrats, is articulated by Doran, "Somebody Else's Civil War." See also Stout et al.
(7) Pew polls in 2007 showed respondents in Muslim countries (Arab and non-Arab) favoring American withdrawal from Afghanistan at almost the same rate that they favored American withdrawal from Iraq. See Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a "fact tank" based in Washington, D.C., that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the USA and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. , Rising Environmental Concern in 47-Country Survey: Global Unease with Major World Powers, June 27, 2007, available at <http://pewglobal.org/reports/ pdf/256.pdf>. For another discussion of the unpopularity of the intervention in Afghanistan, see Gallup Poll of the Islamic World, 2002: Subscriber Report.
(8) Journalist Peter Bergen, Daniel L. Byman of the Brookings Institution Brookings Institution, at Washington, D.C.; chartered 1927 as a consolidation of the Institute for Government Research (est. 1916), the Institute of Economics (est. 1922), and the Robert S. Brookings Graduate School of Economics and Government (est. 1924). , McConnell, and Sageman all make this point.
Mark E. Stout is a Defense Analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses The Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) runs three federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) focusing on defense and scientific issues. Centers
The IDA Studies and Analyses FFRDC is co-located with IDA headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. . Colonel Thomas F. Lynch III, USA, is a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking overall military officer of the United States military, and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States. . Colonel T.X. Hammes, USMC (Ret.), is a Defense Analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses. This article is an edited version of the authors' chapter contribution to Global Strategic Assessment 2009: America's Security Role in a Changing World, edited by Patrick M. Cronin (NDU NDU National Defense University
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