In a recent post, I suggested that we needed to use a massive show of force to stop uprisings in Iraq caused by al Sadr. My suggestion was that it is harder to motivate a group of young men to go off and attack a pride of lions than it is to get them to attack a single lion. Though I think this is the best way to handle petty runts like al Sadr, it is not the method I would use to deal with terrorism in general.
Terrorism is a different thing from war. It relies on small but dedicated groups who are willing to cause damage to the appearance of security. Terrorists rarely take on military targets, preferring instead to attack the unguarded.
Terrorists also work in hiding whenever possible. Though they organize to carry out their attacks, they are otherwise so loosely structured that any damage to one person or group is not notably damaging to the group as a whole. It is like trying to shoot grass. You may hit a blade of grass, but there is still a whole ditch filled with the stuff.
So, you may ask, what do we do about it?
Well, you can always fight fire with fire. To do that you need a very dedicated group of individuals who are aimed directly at stopping the terrorists. What do the terrorists fear? What makes them feel safe in their lives?
There are two parts of the terrorist safety. The first is the belief that their loose operating structure keeps them from being harmed by the loss of one cell. If our counter terrorism forces can break as many cells as possible, that?s a good start. When they come out publicly to say they have captured or stopped such a group, they should always, and I mean absolutely always, tell how the information came from a previously captured group. No details are needed. Just knowing that their comrades will turn on them at any time will add extra strain within the terrorist community. That disrupts their works and removes some of their feeling of security.
The second problem comes from religious fanaticism. How do you fight a person who believes that if he dies trying to hurt you he will spend the rest of eternity in paradise? Well, you have to disrupt the flow of information regarding this belief. The leader of the group issues a statement. Our teams issue statements, also ?from? this guru. Make sure the messages are realistic enough to be believable. Also, make sure there is some point of disagreement. You want to leave room for debate so they will debate. I hope that they will debate each other.
To make things worse, for them, is that they now have to double check the legitimacy of every message that comes from the leader. No longer can they rely on casual, cryptic communication. All of their messages have to be very explicit and must go through very specific channels. If they can?t verify the orders, how do they know they are doing what he wants?
Many of the terrorists in the news lately are Extremist Muslims. That means that they take their cues from their interpretation of the Quran. With apologies to the friendlier Muslims, why aren?t we flooding these terrorist prone areas with our own Qurans? We could easily print a couple of different versions with conflicting passages and let them get into circulation among groups like the Wahabis. Not all of them could have memorized the entire book completely. Let them refer back and find things aren?t quite what their leader told them.
The key to dealing with spies, saboteurs, and other sneaky types has always been to go after them in an even sneakier way. Give disinformation. Disrupt their communication, preferably without them knowing it. Create phantasms for them to attack. Paint tunnels on cliff walls. Give them targets at which to run and only at the last minute, when it?s too late for them to change course, do you pull back the cape to reveal the anvil behind. The war between Communism and the West was also a war of ideals. It was a cold war (with violence played out in several smaller venues just to test the waters.) We knew how to go into a place and play against the commie agents who were there for the same purpose.
When the Taliban like people try to assert themselves in Afghanistan, we must be the first to call them idolaters. We must be the first to show that they break Allah?s laws. The citizens of Afghanistan must be shown that the violence comes from non-believers who are there to corrupt what was given to them by the Prophet. Can our people be dressed like Americans when they do this? No, they must look like any other Afghan citizen.
The jist of all of this is that we need much better spies and we must give them the freedom to do their jobs, even if we don?t want to think about some parts of it.