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					                                                                                                                                          jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1

                                                     CoMBATInG TERRoRIsM CEnTER AT WEsT poInT




                                                    CTC SeNTiNeL
                                                     oBjECTIVE . RELEVAnT . RIGoRoUs




Contents                                            The Facade of Allegiance:
FEATURE ARTICLE
1 The Facade of Allegiance: Bin Ladin’s
                                                    Bin Ladin’s Dubious Pledge to
  Dubious Pledge to Mullah Omar
  By Vahid Brown                                    Mullah Omar
                                                    By Vahid Brown
REpoRTs
6 Assessing the Al-Qa`ida Threat to
   the United States
   By Martha Crenshaw
9 The Pakistan Military’s Adaptation
   to Counterinsurgency in 2009
   By sameer Lalwani
13 Karachi Becoming a Taliban
   Safe Haven?
   By Imtiaz Ali
16 Uighur Dissent and Militancy in
   China’s Xinjiang Province
   By Chris Zambelis
19 Ninawa Province: Al-Qa`ida’s
   Remaining Stronghold
   By Andrea plebani
22 The French Approach to
   Counterterrorism
   By Charles Rault                                 Usama bin Ladin explains why he declared jihad against the United States. - Photo by CNN via Getty Images




                                                    T
                                                               he relationship between al-                              the fear that if the Taliban were to regain
26 Recent Highlights in Terrorist Activity
                                                               Qa`ida and the Afghan Taliban                            control of Afghanistan, it would renew
28 CTC Sentinel Staff & Contacts
                                                               is of critical concern to the                            the close relationship that it had with al-
                                                               U.S. foreign policy community.                           Qa`ida prior to 9/11 and thus increase al-
                                                    It has repeatedly been cited by the                                 Qa`ida’s capacity to threaten the United
                                                    current administration as the central                               States.
                                                    justification for U.S. military engagement
                                                    in Afghanistan. 1 Yet the precise nature                            Yet a historical account by an insider
                                                    of this relationship remains a matter of                            who worked for both organizations
                                                    debate among specialists. 2 While some                              in the 1990s challenges one of the key
                                                    argue that al-Qa`ida and the Afghan                                 assumptions underlying this fear—that
About the CTC Sentinel                              Taliban have effectively merged, others                             Usama bin Ladin had personally sworn
The Combating Terrorism Center is an
                                                    point to signs that their respective global                         allegiance (bay`a) to Mullah Omar—
independent educational and research
                                                    and nationalist goals have increasingly                             revealing that al-Qa`ida’s early relations
institution based in the Department of social
                                                    put them at odds. 3 Behind this debate is                           with the Taliban regime were much
sciences at the United states Military Academy,
                                                                                                                        rockier than is commonly assumed. This
West point. The CTC sentinel harnesses
                                                                                                                        remarkable first-person account opens a
the Center’s global network of scholars and         1 In the words of U.S. General Stanley A. McChrystal,
                                                                                                                        unique window on a critical moment in
practitioners to understand and confront            commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, “Roll-
                                                                                                                        the early history of al-Qa`ida’s relations
contemporary threats posed by terrorism and         ing back the Taliban is a pre-requisite to the ultimate de-
                                                                                                                        with the Taliban, depicting these relations
other forms of political violence.                  feat of al-Qaeda.” For more, see his statement to the U.S.
                                                                                                                        as deeply contentious and threatened by
                                                    House Armed Services Committee on December 8, 2009.
                                                                                                                        mutual distrust and divergent ambitions.
                                                    2 For a sense of the spectrum of opinion on this issue, see
The views expressed in this report are those of     “The al-Qaeda-Taliban Nexus,” Council on Foreign Rela-
the authors and not of the U.s. Military Academy,   tions, November 25, 2009.                                           October 19, 2009 and Vahid Brown, “Al-Qa’ida and the
the Department of the Army, or any other agency
                                                    3 On these respective positions, see Peter Bergen, “The             Afghan Taliban: Diametrically Opposed?” Jihadica.com,
of the U.s. Government.
                                                    Front: The Taliban-Al Qaeda Merger,” The New Republic,              October 21, 2009.


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                                                                                                                                        jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


Indeed, it alleges that al-Qa`ida’s                          enduring religious and fraternal bonds                       Although Abu’l-Walid has only recently
purported endorsement of the Taliban                         suggested by al-Qa`ida’s propaganda.                         made his writings available to the online
regime was an “outright deception,” a                        These significant differences represent                      jihadist community, his work has long
calculated political move that provided                      key vulnerabilities and invite a closer                      been known to historians of al-Qa`ida.
cover for activities that threatened the                     examination on the part of policymakers                      U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan after
Taliban’s very existence.                                    and the counterterrorism community.                          9/11 recovered thousands of pages of
                                                                                                                          documents authored by Abu’l-Walid
The revelation of Bin Ladin’s dubious                        The Significance of Abu’l-Walid al-Masri                     at al-Qa`ida compounds and training
oath does not prove that al-Qa`ida and                       The account of Bin Ladin’s dubious
the Afghan Taliban can be decisively                         pledge of allegiance to Mullah Omar
split, but it is emblematic of the                           appears in a document written by the
                                                                                                                          “The ambiguity of Bin
tensions that have long complicated                          Egyptian jihadist Mustafa Hamid, better                      Ladin’s bay`a challenges
their often volatile relationship. It also                   known as Abu’l-Walid al-Masri, entitled
suggests that the “allegiance” to the                        The Story of the Arabs’ Pledge to the Commander
                                                                                                                          the notion that al-Qa`ida
Afghan Taliban professed today by al-                        of the Faithful Mullah Muhammad Omar. 7 The                  is, or ever was, subservient
Qa`ida and its Pakistan-based allies—                        author’s long career in international
including the Haqqani network and                            jihadist activism has intersected with
                                                                                                                          to the aims and methods of
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)—is                           almost every militant Islamist group                         the Afghan Taliban.”
more a strategy of expediency than a                         currently active in Afghanistan and
sign of real harmony. To be sure, there                      the tribal areas of Pakistan, including
is currently a significant alignment                         al-Qa`ida, the Haqqani network and
of interest between these groups and                         the Afghan Taliban. 8 After the fall of                      camps, and the Combating Terrorism
Mullah Omar’s Taliban movement,                              the Taliban in 2001, Abu’l-Walid fled                        Center’s   Harmony     studies     made
as they share a common enemy in the                          Afghanistan for Iran and worked briefly                      extensive use of these materials to
Afghan government and its NATO                               as a journalist under the pseudonym                          chronicle al-Qa`ida’s history. 11 Abu’l-
supporters. Yet at the same time, al-                        Hashim al-Makki. His publications                            Walid’s memoirs, historical sketches,
Qa`ida and its militant allies in North                      abruptly ended in 2002 for reasons that                      strategic analyses and letters to other
Waziristan are bent on waging a much                         remain unclear. 9 In 2007, however, Abu’l-                   al-Qa`ida leaders shed considerable
wider conflict, the pursuit of which                         Walid began posting electronic editions of                   light on the inner workings of the
Mullah Omar has repeatedly denounced                         his memoirs, and in 2009 renewed his                         organization and are unique in their
as a direct threat to his movement’s                         relationship with the Taliban’s media                        candid and often highly critical tone. 12
goals in Afghanistan. 4 Mullah Omar has                      wing. He is now a regular contributor to                     While his pre-9/11 writings are often
characterized the Afghan Taliban as a                        the Afghan Taliban’s Arabic-language                         corroborated by multiple other primary
“nationalist movement,” an ideological                       monthly al-Sumud, presumably from his
position that al-Qa`ida has labeled                          “house arrest” in Iran. 10                                   “Abu’l-Walid is Back…with the Taliban (and not al-
“Satanic.” 5 Al-Qa`ida’s pursuit of global                                                                                Qa’ida),” Jihadica.com. Abu’l-Walid’s re-emergence has
jihad, aside from having caused the                          7 Abu’l-Walid, Qissat al-bay’at al-‘arabiya li-amir al-      also been discussed at length by Australian counterter-
downfall of the Taliban regime in 2001,                      mu’minin Mullah Muhammad ‘Umar, undated, posted on           rorism expert Leah Farrall on her blog at www.allthing-
lies in direct opposition to the stated                      various jihadist web forums on July 19-20, 2007. Thanks      sct.wordpress.com, where she first drew attention to the
aims of the Afghan Taliban today, which                      to Muhammad al-Obaidi for his translation assistance.        document discussed in this article and posted a fascinat-
declares the intent to pursue friendly                       8 During the 1980s and early 1990s, Abu’l-Walid forged       ing recent exchange of correspondence with Abu’l-Walid
relations with neighboring countries. 6                      a close friendship with Jalaluddin Haqqani and worked        himself.
                                                             as a propagandist and military strategist for what would     11 The CTC’s Harmony reports, along with copies of the
It is critical, therefore, not to mistake                    come to be known as the Haqqani network—helping              original documents, are available online at www.ctc.
the calculated political interactions                        to edit Haqqani’s monthly magazine, Manba’ al-Jihad.         usma.edu.
between the two movements for the                            Throughout the 1980s, Abu’l-Walid developed close            12 Participants on jihadist forums have occasionally ex-
                                                             ties to future leaders of al-Qa`ida, including Abu Hafs      pressed outrage at some of Abu’l-Walid’s criticisms of
4 Mazhar Tufail, “Mullah Omar Orders Halt to Attacks         al-Masri, and beginning in 1990 Abu’l-Walid worked           al-Qa`ida and its senior leaders, although none of the lat-
on Pak Troops,” The News, February 24, 2009; Ahmed           for al-Qa`ida as a trainer at its camps in Afghanistan.      ter have ever publicly contradicted any of the assertions
Rashid, “Slide into Anarchy,” Globe and Mail, February       When the al-Qa`ida leadership moved back to Afghani-         contained in Abu’l-Walid’s writings. Fazul Abdullah
28, 2009.                                                    stan from Sudan in 1996, Abu’l-Walid’s loyalties became      Muhammad, an al-Qa`ida member since the 1990s and
5 On the Taliban’s “nationalism,” see Mullah Omar’s          increasingly divided between his old employers and the       a current leader of its operations in the Horn of Africa,
message of September 19, 2009, available online at www.      newly-risen Taliban. By 2000, he was working directly        wrote an autobiography in early 2009 where he specifi-
jihadica.com. Al-Qa`ida has consistently maintained its      for the Taliban as a co-editor, along with famous jihadist   cally mentions reading Abu’l-Walid’s memoirs, and he
position against nationalism since it was formed; al-        strategist Abu Mus`ab al-Suri, of the Taliban’s Arabic-      cites no inaccuracies. On the contrary, Fazul contends
Zawahiri called it “Satanic” in his September 28, 2009       language magazine al-Imarah (The Emirate). For an in-        that Abu’l-Walid was the “architect of the strategy” of
eulogy for Baitullah Mehsud, an English translation of       depth account of Abu’l-Walid’s career, see the author’s      al-Qa`ida in 1991 and that while Bin Ladin is given most
which is available online at www.nefafoundation.org.         profile of him at www.ctc.usma.edu.                          of the credit for this, “it is actually Shaykh Abu’l-Walid
6 See Mullah Omar’s September 19, 2009 message, and          9 It is possible that the Iranian government imposed         al-Masri whose great merit it was to have convinced the
the open letter of the Taliban leadership addressed to the   greater restrictions on his freedom of movement at that      al-Qa`ida leadership to confront the United States of
Shanghai Cooperation Conference on October 14, 2009,         time.                                                        America.” For details, see Fazul Abdullah Muhammad,
available online at www.jihadica.com.                        10 On these recent developments, see Vahid Brown,            Harb ala’l-Islam 1 (2009): pp. 145f.


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sources, he should also not be taken as a                     These details are not reported in any                           announced the creation of the “World
“disinterested” observer. He is a Taliban                     other source, nor has the specific                              Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews
loyalist, and has devoted much of his                         timing or nature of Bin Ladin’s bay`a to                        and Crusaders” in February, calling
life to writing jihadist propaganda. His                      the “Commander of the Faithful” ever                            on Muslims worldwide to “kill the
claims must therefore be treated with                         been known. 16 Much more than a minor                           Americans wherever you find them.” 18
caution, as they could be advanced                            historical detail, this information casts in                    To further publicize this declaration
in support of a Taliban (or personal)                         an entirely new light al-Qa`ida’s senior                        of hostilities, he gave a series of high-
agenda. Yet even if his allegations are                       leaders’ frequent claims of recognition                         profile interviews and press conferences
tendentious, this would perhaps be no                         of Mullah Omar’s leadership.                                    in May to international journalists at
less illustrative of Taliban/al-Qa`ida                                                                                        his Zhawar Kili camp complex in Khost,
rifts than if they are accurate, given that                   The Story of the Arabs’ Pledge to Mullah                        Afghanistan. 19
Abu’l-Walid’s writings are regularly                          Omar
published in an official organ of the                         Abu’l-Walid’s narrative of Bin Ladin’s                          On August 7, 1998, near-simultaneous
Afghan Taliban.                                               oath of allegiance to Mullah Omar                               bombings of two U.S. embassies in
                                                              begins in the autumn of 1998. He writes                         Africa were carried out by al-Qa`ida
Abu’l-Walid’s account sheds new light                         that relations between the Taliban                              operatives, some of whom had trained
on the debates about the Taliban’s                            and the Arab jihadists in Afghanistan                           in camps in Afghanistan. The U.S.
legitimacy that raged within the Arab                         had become more contentious during                              responded with cruise missile strikes
jihadist community in Afghanistan                             that year, primarily on account of                              on the jihadist training camps around
during the late 1990s. 13 According to                        the escalation of al-Qa`ida’s media                             Zhawar Kili. According to Abu’l-Walid,
Abu’l-Walid, in the late 1990s the groups                     and operational campaign against the                            the embassy bombings and retaliatory
most opposed to the Taliban and the                           United States. From the outset, the                             U.S. strikes led to an immediate influx of
idea of pledging allegiance to its leader                     Taliban’s provision of hospitality for                          new Arab volunteers into Afghanistan,
were Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian                             the al-Qa`ida leadership was limited                            exacerbating the fractious tendencies of
Islamic Jihad (EIJ) organization and                          by two conditions: Bin Ladin was not                            the various Arab jihadist groups that
the jihadist groups from North Africa. 14                     to communicate with the media without                           had established bases in the country. 20
Today, al-Qa`ida’s senior leadership                          the consent of the Taliban regime,                              Long-running doctrinal disputes took
is almost entirely composed of former                         nor was he to directly antagonize                               on new urgency as the foreign jihadist
members of these very groups, including                       the United States. 17 Although he had                           groups competed for a share of the
al-Zawahiri,    Mustafa      Abu’l-Yazid                      violated these conditions on a number                           freshly-mobilized human resources, and
and Abu Yahya al-Libi. Of the people                          of occasions during 1996 and 1997, he                           new training camps were built in various
identified by Abu’l-Walid as initially                        significantly increased his provocative                         parts of the country. 21 “A number of the
open to considering a formal oath to                          media stunts during the spring and                              Arab jihadist leaders rose in opposition
Mullah Omar, only Bin Ladin survives                          summer of 1998. Joined by Ayman al-                             to Bin Ladin at this time,” writes
today, and his profile is much lower in                       Zawahiri’s EIJ organization, Bin Ladin                          Abu’l-Walid, “all of them affirming the
al-Qa`ida’s public messaging than it                                                                                          primacy of the domestic fronts against
was 10 years ago.                                             com/749972/mustafa-hamed-taliban-and-al-qaeda.                  the Arab regimes, convinced that a
                                                              16 According to Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower              shift to a ‘global confrontation’ against
The document’s most novel disclosure                          (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006), p. 288, Bin Ladin               the United States was ill conceived.” 22
is its account of how Bin Ladin reneged                       “made a pledge of personal fealty” to Mullah Omar after         Those opposing Bin Ladin and his
on an initial agreement to give Mullah                        being summoned by the Taliban leader in the wake of the         “global jihad” had patrons within
Omar his oath of allegiance, and finally                      Africa embassy bombings. However, Wright’s source for           the Taliban movement and sought to
deputized Abu’l-Walid to perform the                          this assertion—Robert Fisk’s summary of Ahmad Zay-              sideline al-Qa`ida and undermine Bin
bay`a on Bin Ladin’s behalf, although                         dan’s Arabic biography of Bin Ladin, published in the           Ladin’s unique status among the Arab
Abu’l-Walid was not even a formal                             Independent, on October 23, 2002—does not make this             jihadists, leading to the emergence of
member of the al-Qa`ida organization. 15                      claim, nor does Zaydan’s book. The 9/11 Commission Re-          pro- and anti-al-Qa`ida factions within
                                                              port (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2004), relates that          the Taliban leadership. 23
13 On these debates, see Vahid Brown, Cracks in the Foun-     Khalid Shaykh Muhammad said under interrogation that
dation: Leadership Schisms in al-Qa’ida 1989-2006 (West       “Bin Ladin had sworn bayat to Omar upon first moving            18 “Al-Qaeda’s Fatwa,” PBS NewsHour, undated.
Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center, 2007), pp. 13-         to Afghanistan, following the Shura Council’s advice,”          19 On these interviews, see Peter Bergen, The Osama bin
18; Brynjar Lia, Architect of Global Jihad: The Life of Al-   an assertion which is flatly contradicted by a number of        Laden I Know (New York: Free Press, 2006), pp. 194ff.
Qaida Strategist Abu Mus’ab al-Suri (New York: Columbia       other sources in addition to the account presented here.        For Mullah Omar’s irate response to these developments,
University Press, 2008), pp. 241ff; Alan Cullison, “Inside    17 Abu’l-Walid, Qissat al-bay’at al-‘arabiya, p. 15. See also   see Roy Gutman, How We Missed the Story (Washington,
Al-Qaeda’s Hard Drive,” The Atlantic, September 2004.         Brown, Cracks in the Foundation, p. 17. Bin Ladin referred      D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2008), p. 129.
14 These included the “Fighting Groups” (al-jama’a al-        to the restrictions himself in an interview with al-Jazira’s    20 For details on these organizations, see Abu Mus`ab
islamiyya al-muqatila) of Libya and Morocco and the anti-     Ahmad Zaydan in September 1998: “There is an opinion            al-Suri, Da’wa al-muqawwama al-islamiyya al-‘alamiyya,
regime jihadist organizations from Tunisia and Algeria,       among the Taliban that we should not move from within           undated, pp. 727ff., portions of which are translated in
the last of which re-branded itself in January 2007 as al-    Afghanistan against any other state. This was the deci-         Lia, pp. 247ff.
Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).                         sion of the Commander of the Faithful, as is known.” For        21 Abu’l-Walid, Qissat al-bay’at al-‘arabiya, p. 5.
15 Although he worked closely with al-Qa`ida for many         details, see Bruce Lawrence ed., Messages to the World:         22 Ibid., p. 6.
years, Abu’l-Walid claims that he never gave Bin Ladin        The Statements of Osama bin Laden (London: Verso, 2005),        23 Ibid. According to Vahid Mozhdeh, a former official
a formal bay`a. For details, see www.mafa.maktoobblog.        p. 86.                                                          within the Taliban government, the Taliban’s Foreign


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Alarmed at these developments, Abu’l-                             the Taliban from interfering in                              our hands and then returned to
Walid submitted a proposal to Bin                                 their freedom to carry out foreign                           sit on a low wall. Mullah Jalil
Ladin, Abu Hafs al-Masri and other al-                            operations. 26                                               was on his right while I sat on his
Qa`ida leaders in an attempt to address                                                                                        left. For several minutes the amir
the growing disunity. Arguing that                            Abu’l-Walid writes that relations                                asked Mullah Jalil about various
it was counterproductive to have so                           between Mullah Omar and Bin Ladin                                matters, including the condition of
many Arab groups in Afghanistan, each                         were worsening by the day, with Bin                              the Arab guests…Finally, the amir
with their own amir (leader), he urged                        Ladin continuing to “disobey commands                            stood up, declared the meeting
the Arabs to form one bloc, somewhat                          in a free-wheeling manner,” while                                was over, then shook my hand
like an Afghan tribe, and pledge their                        debate over the issue of the bay`a raged                         and Mullah Jalil’s. Mullah Jalil
collective allegiance to Mullah Omar                          within the Arab jihadist community.                              then walked me out to the gate.
as amir al-mu’minin, the Commander of                         Two poles emerged within al-Qa`ida on                            Surprised, I looked at Mullah Jalil
the Faithful. The suggestion was met                          the question, with Bin Ladin and some                            and said, “but I did not yet give
with ridicule, and the al-Qa`ida leaders                      of his senior aides leaning in favor of                          bay`a to the amir!” He corrected
objected that Mullah Omar was only                            considering an oath of allegiance, and                           me, saying “his handshake with
the amir al-mu’minin for Afghans and that                     the Egyptians from al-Zawahiri’s EIJ                             you was the bay`a.” “But I wasn’t
only Afghans could give him the bay`a.                        organization firmly opposed to it. 27                            paying attention,” I said, “so I
Surprised at this objection, Abu’l-Walid                                                                                       need to shake his hand again.”
asked Mullah Omar’s deputy, Mullah                            In frequent trips to Kandahar from his                           Mullah Jalil laughed and returned
Jalil, about the possibility of non-                          home in Kabul, Abu’l-Walid continued                             to speak with the amir. The latter
Afghans giving oaths of allegiance to                         to press the issue throughout the fall                           rose from his place and shook
the Taliban leader. Mullah Jalil asserted                     of 1998, only to learn in late October                           my hand again. This bay`a was
that anyone within Afghanistan could                          that the al-Qa`ida leaders had returned                          as simple as a handshake, yet
give bay`a to Mullah Omar. 24 Abu’l-                          to their earlier position that bay`a to                          profound in significance.
Walid brought this clarification to Bin                       Mullah Omar was only permissible for
Ladin, but Bin Ladin and his senior                           Afghans. To break the impasse, Abu’l-                        Thinking that he had made a
aides asked for “more time to think                           Walid offered to make a “test run”                           breakthrough in improving the Taliban-
about the issue.” 25                                          and pledge allegiance to Mullah Omar                         Arab jihadist relationship, Abu’l-Walid
                                                              himself. Accompanied by Muhammad                             went immediately to “Arabkhayl,” the
After several weeks, Abu’l-Walid was                          Tahir Yuldashev, the late leader of the                      settlement of foreign jihadists on the
finally told that Bin Ladin had asked                         Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, whom                         outskirts of Kandahar, to share his
for a consultation on the matter with                         Mullah Omar “greatly respected and                           good news. The guards at the al-Qa`ida
a delegation of Pakistani religious                           loved,” Abu’l-Walid called on Mullah                         compound welcomed him excitedly,
scholars, and that it would take some                         Jalil in Kandahar on November 2, 1998.                       “and some cried ‘Allahu Akbar’ and
time before they had an answer. Abu’l-                        Mullah Jalil contacted Mullah Omar by                        embraced me as if I had just carried
Walid believed this was just another                          radio and arranged for the two to meet                       out a successful suicide mission and
pretext to avoid the issue:                                   at Taliban headquarters. Abu’l-Walid                         returned from it safely!” 28 He met an
                                                              describes the scene:                                         entirely different response, however,
    It was only when it was too late                                                                                       when he told Bin Ladin, Abu Hafs and
    that I realized the real reasons for                          Mullah Muhammad Omar, tall,                              al-Zawahiri about his successful bay`a.
    their procrastination; the whole                              thin and with his distinguished                          Abu’l-Walid felt that he had immediately
    time they simply wanted to keep                               bearing, was sitting alone…in                            plummeted in their esteem, and the
                                                                  a courtyard of the governor of                           reception was hostile. The al-Qa`ida
Affairs Ministry was almost uniformly opposed to the ex-          Kandahar’s residence…The amir                            leaders again insisted that they would
tension of hospitality to Bin Ladin and frequently lobbied        stood to welcome us. He shook                            need to consult further with Pakistani
Mullah Omar to place him under greater restrictions, to                                                                    religious scholars. Abu’l-Walid set an
such an extent that Bin Ladin was said to have claimed,       26 Ibid., p. 8. Here and below the author translates         appointment with Bin Ladin for later
“Two entities are against our jihad. One is the US, and the   Abu’l-Walid’s al-imarat as “the Taliban,” as that is how     in November, hoping that by then the
other is the Taliban’s own Foreign Affairs Ministry.” See     the regime is best known in English.                         matter would be resolved.
Vahid Mozhdeh, Afghanistan va panj sal-i sultah-i Taliban     27 The Egyptian Jama`a al-Islamiyya remained aloof
(Tehran, 2003), unpublished English translation, p. 53.       from the debate, with Abu’l-Walid claiming that they         Finally, on a visit to the al-Qa`ida
Thanks to Roy Gutman for sharing this translation.            were “waiting for fatwas to arrive from who knows            guesthouse in late November, Bin Ladin
24 Mullah Jalil also stated that the issue of bay`a being     where, with nobody really knowing when or whether            walked Abu’l-Walid to the door and
given by those outside of Afghanistan was still under         such fatwas would even arrive at all…The last thing          took him aside.
debate, about which Abu’l-Walid writes: “I later learned      you would expect from them was a clear stance about
that this concerned the Pakistani tribes that were seek-      anything.” As for the jihadist organizations from North          [Bin Ladin] said in a low voice that
ing to give their allegiance to Mullah Omar, something        Africa, “the most tolerant of them saw the Taliban as in-        he had agreed to give bay`a to the
which the Taliban was being pressured against by the          fidels…Their stance was the most easily comprehensible,          Commander of the Faithful and
Pakistani government, which had issued a number of            simple and contrarian; it began with excommunicating             asked me to arrange an appointment
warnings in this regard.” Abu’l-Walid, Qissat al-bay’at       (takfir) the Taliban and ended with excommunicating              for this purpose…I told him that I
al-‘arabiya, p. 7.                                            everyone in their vicinity, from Arabs to the residents of
25 Abu’l-Walid, Qissat al-bay’at al-‘arabiya, p. 7.           Afghanistan.” Ibid., pp. 8f.                                 28 Ibid., p. 11.


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    would not accompany him, as his               I asked myself why Abu Abdullah                           his “troublemaking with the Taliban.” 33
    meeting with the amir would have              insisted on having me perform                             In July, Abu Mus`ab al-Suri wrote an
    a greater impact if they were alone           the bay`a to Mullah Omar on his                           angry e-mail to Bin Ladin on behalf of the
    and would thus go further toward              behalf. Why not do it directly? I                         Taliban for continuing to flout Mullah
    removing the awkwardness and                  think he did it this way in order                         Omar’s directives and urging Bin Ladin to
    tensions between the two men. He              to leave himself plenty of room                           make a personal apology. 34 According to
    acquiesced, though he said he’d               for maneuver, in the event that                           Abu’l-Walid, Bin Ladin did eventually
    prefer it if I attend the meeting             he be pressed on whether or not                           make a personal call on Mullah Omar
    with him. I told him that I would             he indeed pledged allegiance to                           early in 2000—“on the advice of one of
    return the next day to learn the              the Commander of the Faithful. If                         the Arabs,” a probable reference to al-
    details of this historic event. 29            circumstances require him to deny                         Suri’s e-mail—and relations between
                                                  it, he can honestly say that he did                       them “were relatively improved.” 35
Abu’l-Walid stayed the night as a guest           not, as he did not swear allegiance
with the Uzbek leader Tahir Yuldashev,            personally. And if circumstances                              But it appears that Abu Abdullah
and returned to the al-Qa`ida guesthouse          require him to confirm the bay`a,                             was already at an advanced stage
the next day.                                     he can say he did, and this will                              of preparation for the attack of
                                                  likewise be the truth, as the bay`a                           September 2001, about which
    Abu Abdullah [Bin Ladin] arrived              was made—if only on his behalf. 31                            no one knew any details save for
    at mid-morning. He lacked his                                                                               three individuals, one of which
    usual smile, so I began to get a bad      In concluding his account, Abu’l-Walid                            was Abu Abdullah himself 36 …
    feeling…I immediately asked Abu           observes that Bin Ladin’s bay`a by proxy                          Nobody outside the first or second
    Abdullah about yesterday’s news           had little immediate effect on relations                          inner circle had any idea of what
    and how things went with Mullah           between the two leaders. “In general,”                            was going on. Of course, Mullah
    Omar. He said he didn’t go! I was         writes Abu’l-Walid,                                               Omar topped the list of those kept
    thunderstruck, and asked in shock,                                                                          in the dark, though it was on his
    “How? Why?” He briefly replied                Abu     Abdullah…continued       to                           head that all of the catastrophic
    that he felt he needed further time           disobey the basic instructions of                             consequences of that strike would
    to think the matter over. 30                  the Commander of the Faithful,                                fall, as his regime collapsed along
                                                  which could be summarized under                               with the Twin Towers of New York.
In dismay, Abu’l-Walid told Bin Ladin             two headings. First was to halt                               Naturally, I was also on that list
how poorly his no-show would reflect              all interviews, for either print                              of the un-informed. Had I known,
upon the Arabs, and how it would only             or television media. Second was                               I would never have pushed with
confirm the impression of arrogance               the prohibition on any military                               all my strength to bring about the
and self-importance that Mullah Omar              strike against the United States,                             bay`a of Abu Abdullah to Mullah
already had of him. Finally convinced             as Pakistan had threatened to                                 Omar, since it turned out to have
of the seriousness of the situation, Bin          intervene directly against the                                been an outright deception of
Ladin agreed to meet again later in the           Taliban in the event of such a                                the Commander of the Faithful,
day to discuss it further. That evening,          strike. The Taliban could not bear                            diverting his attention from a
Bin Ladin told Abu’l-Walid that he had            up under such an intervention                                 dangerous act, plotted behind
decided to go ahead with the bay`a, but           so long as it remained unable to                              his back, that undermined his
that he wanted Abu’l-Walid to give the            control the remaining territory                               fundamental prerogatives as ruler
bay`a on Bin Ladin’s behalf. Abu’l-Walid          held by the northern resistance. 32                           of the country and threatened the
stressed that he felt it was imperative for                                                                     lives and fates of all Afghans. 37
Bin Ladin to perform the oath himself         Other sources confirm that relations
to clear the air with Mullah Omar, but        remained tense throughout 1999. The                           Conclusion
Bin Ladin insisted and Abu’l-Walid            Taliban ordered several of the Arab                           The ambiguity of Bin Ladin’s bay`a
ultimately agreed. He writes:                 jihadists’ training camps closed, and                         challenges the notion that al-Qa`ida is,
                                              there was increased pressure on Bin                           or ever was, subservient to the aims and
    I was very embarrassed while              Ladin from other foreign militants to end                     methods of the Afghan Taliban. On the
    setting the new appointment to                                                                          contrary, this purported subservience
    make the bay`a on behalf of Abu           31 Ibid., pp. 14-16. While it could be objected that Bin      is a useful illusion that obscures al-
    Abdullah. I performed the bay`a           Ladin may have given a personal bay`a to Mullah Omar          Qa`ida’s fundamental conflicts with the
    on Abu Abdullah’s behalf and then         after the events described by Abu’l-Walid, there is no ev-
    rushed out, as if a great weight had      idence to suggest this. Bin Ladin began publicizing his al-   33 Cullison; Brown, Cracks in the Foundation, p. 17.
    just been lifted off of me, or as if      legiance to Mullah Omar in April of 2001 (see Lawrence,       34 Cullison.
    I feared that Mullah Omar would           p. 98), when Abu’l-Walid would still have been in a posi-     35 Abu’l-Walid, Qissat al-bay’at al-‘arabiya, p. 15.
    draw back and refuse to accept            tion to know if a second bay`a had been given.                36 Fazul Abdullah Muhammad also states in his mem-
    this proxy pledge of allegiance…          32 Ibid., p. 15. Abu’l-Walid notes that after the second      oirs that only three people knew the details of the 9/11
    Later, when it was already too late,      intifada in Palestine (September 2000) the Taliban were       plot before the fact, identifying them as Bin Ladin, Abu
                                              not opposed to strikes against Israel being carried out       Hafs al-Masri and Khalid Shaykh Muhammad. See Fazul
29 Ibid., p. 13.                              from their territory and were “willing to face the conse-     Abdullah Muhammad, p. 392.
30 Ibid.                                      quences [of such an attack] alongside the Arabs.”             37 Abu’l-Walid, Qissat al-bay’at al-‘arabiya, p. 15.

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Afghan Taliban’s agenda. Today, al-
Qa`ida continues to drape itself in the
                                                         Assessing the Al-Qa`ida                                        This article examines the three levels
                                                                                                                        that constitute al-Qa`ida’s overall
Taliban flag and proclaims allegiance to                 Threat to the United                                           structure and then assesses the terrorist
Mullah Omar. Yet as it did in the 1990s,                 States                                                         group’s intentions going forward.
it is simultaneously pursuing strategic
objectives that directly threaten those                  By Martha Crenshaw                                             The Organization
of Mullah Omar. In many ways, the                                                                                       Al-Qa`ida has always depended as
Afghan Taliban remain as dependent                       This article is based on testimony before the                  much on local initiative as on top-down
on support from Pakistan as they were                    Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information                      direction, and in the aftermath of 9/11
prior to 9/11. Yet it is against this very               Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment,                        it has dispersed even more. Its complex
patron, and under a Taliban banner, that                 Committee on Homeland Security, United                         organizational structure is somewhere
al-Qa`ida and its coalition of Pakistani                 States House of Representatives, Hearing on                    between a centralized hierarchy and
jihadists are waging a bloody campaign                   Reassessing the Evolving al-Qa`ida Threat                      a decentralized flat network. It is a
of suicide terrorism. Mullah Omar has                    to the Homeland, November 19, 2009,                            flexible and adaptable organization
flatly condemned this campaign, telling                  Washington, D.C. The author adapted her                        that has survived well beyond the
his purported “followers” in Pakistan’s                  testimony for use in the CTC Sentinel.                         lifespan of most other terrorist groups.
tribal areas that they are “bringing a bad                                                                              It is a web of overlapping conspiracies,
name” to the Taliban and “harming the                    although al-qa`ida is substantially                            often piggy-backing on local conflicts
war against the US and NATO forces in                    weaker than it was on the eve of the 9/11                      and grievances. In many ways it is a
Afghanistan.” 38                                         attacks, it still poses an active threat                       transnational secret society. Clandestine
                                                         to the United States and its allies. 1                         cells are the norm, not the mobilization
The “Commander of the Faithful,”                         Transnational reach is central to al-                          of mass support.
however, has proven unable to command                    Qa`ida’s identity, and it is organized to
these particular faithful, and the                       carry out this mission. The expanded                           The structure of the organization can be
violence in Pakistan’s cities rages on.                  U.S. military presence in Afghanistan                          analyzed on three levels: al-Qa`ida central
This says less about the limits of Mullah                and continued strikes against the core                         in Pakistan; the second tier leadership;
Omar’s authority than it does about                      leadership in Pakistan may cause the                           cells (or micro-cells) and individuals.
the expedient nature of the allegiances                  remaining al-Qa`ida operatives to grow
that al-Qa`ida and its partners profess.                 more desperate to activate supporters                          Al-Qa`ida Central
To achieve its objectives in the region,                 in the West. Local militants may be                            The key policy issue is leadership
the policy community must strive for a                   motivated to act to avoid failure and                          and leadership potential. Although
more nuanced understanding of these                      the collapse of the cause. Al-Qa`ida’s                         the leadership does not control the
allegiances, the purposes they serve, and                leaders have likely given up the idea of                       worldwide organization, it provides
the underlying tensions they conceal.                    a repetition of 9/11 and would settle for                      ideological direction and guidance
                                                         less spectacular but lethal attacks on                         as well as some resources (mainly
Vahid Brown is a Research Fellow with                    civilian targets.                                              assistance with training and funding).
the Combating Terrorism Center, as well                                                                                 Usama bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri
as a senior instructor for the Center’s FBI                                                                             are compelling motivational figures.
program.                                                                                                                Locally, al-Qa`ida is a disruptive player
                                                                                                                        in Pakistani politics.
                                                         1 A sampling of many works on jihadist attacks and plots
                                                         in the West would include: Petter Nesser, “Chronology of       The leadership is reduced in number and
                                                         Jihadism in Western Europe 1994-2007: Planned, Pre-            many key operational personnel have
                                                         pared, and Executed Terrorist Attacks,” Studies in Con-        been captured or killed. There can be no
                                                         flict and Terrorism 31:10 (2008): pp. 924-46; Edwin Bak-       doubt that their loss is a serious blow
                                                         ker, “Jihadi Terrorists in Europe,” Netherlands Institute      to the organization. It is demoralizing
                                                         of International Relations, December 2006; “Radicalisa-        as well as debilitating. In addition,
                                                         tion and Recruitment to Terror Networks,” Forsvarets           communication is impeded. Under
                                                         Forskningsinstitutt (FFI) Seminar, Oslo, Norway, 2006,         pressure it is harder to communicate
                                                         along with many other FFI Reports from the Norwegian           both within the leadership group and
                                                         Defence Research Establishment; Lorenzo Vidino, Al             to supporters outside, although it is
                                                         Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Ji-     clearly not impossible since al-Qa`ida’s
                                                         had (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2006); Jeffrey M. Bale,          media outlet still operates.
                                                         “Jihadist Cells and ‘I.E.D.’ Capabilities in Europe: Assess-
                                                         ing the Present and Future Threat to the West,” unpub-         There are a number of key questions
                                                         lished paper, Monterey Institute of International Studies,     concerning      al-Qa`ida’s    central
                                                         2009; Lorenzo Vidino, “Homegrown Jihadist Terrorism            leadership. Can the removed leaders
                                                         in the United States: A New and Occasional Phenom-             be replaced? If there is no effective
                                                         enon?” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 32:1 (2009): pp.      succession, can the core leadership
38 These quotes are drawn from a letter addressed to     1-17; Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt, “Radicalization      continue to function under pressure?
leaders of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in February 2009.   in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” New York City              Can it maintain communication with
For details, see Tufail.                                 Police Department Intelligence Division, 2007.                 the rest of the organization and with

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                                                                                                   jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


the world, which is essential to survival     U.S. policy in Afghanistan affect the       real threats to political stability in
as the vanguard of jihad? Is the top          Pakistani government’s willingness          Yemen and Somalia.
leadership essential to mounting terrorist    and ability to confront al-Qa`ida?
attacks against and in the West?              Apparently, al-Qa`ida has a closer          The second mid-level interface is
                                              relationship with the Pakistani Taliban     composed of local leaders in Western
Could    the    al-Qa`ida     leadership      than with the Afghan Taliban, and it is     countries, often Muslim clerics (for
survive without a base in Pakistan or         the Pakistani Taliban that committed        example, at the Finsbury Park Mosque
Afghanistan? Could it be transplanted         the spectacular acts of terrorism that      in London, which drew adherents from
to another conflict zone such as Somalia      provoked a military offensive from          across Europe) but including other
or Yemen? Al-Qa`ida has been rooted           the Pakistani government (in terms of       activists as well. They are public figures,
in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater for       a threat to the homeland, recall that       not covert operatives. It is difficult
almost 30 years. Rebuilding a base in a       the Pakistani Taliban has exhibited
new location would be problematic and         a capacity for organizing terrorism
perhaps impossible.                           outside of the region, such as the 2008     “Even if a faction of the
                                              Barcelona plot). Perhaps the United         Taliban did take power, it
Moreover, does al-Qa`ida need a               States should leave the eradication of
territorial location at all? One reason for   al-Qa`ida to the Pakistani military and     might not be sympathetic
a base may be to maintain training camps      intelligence services. On the other hand,   to al-Qa`ida and in fact
rather than ensure the functioning of         Pakistan may not be willing or able to
the core leadership. Although experts         do the job, especially considering the      might be hostile. After
disagree, the author’s judgment is that       high levels of anti-Americanism among       all, it was al-Qa`ida’s
hands-on training is important to the         the country’s public. Uncertainty about
tactical success of terrorist attacks.        U.S. intentions after the summer of         recklessness that led to the
Expertise in handling explosives,             2011—which is the start of withdrawal       Taliban’s defeat in 2001.”
tradecraft, and operational security are      date for U.S. forces in Afghanistan—
learned through experience, not through       will lead to equivocation.
the internet or training manuals.
                                              The Second-Tier Leadership                  to trace their direct connections to al-
Another question is the relationship          It is a mistake to think of al-Qa`ida as    Qa`ida central, but clearly they have
between al-Qa`ida central and diverse         composed solely of a core leadership        adopted its principles. They provide
Taliban factions in Afghanistan and           at the top and self-generated or self-      more than just inspiration by calling
Pakistan. One scenario is that if the         radicalized volunteers who respond          for jihad against the West. They
United States and NATO withdraw               independently to the call for jihad at      also organize young men in summer
forces, the Taliban will regain control in    the bottom. The intermediate level of       camps, sports clubs, and other venues
Afghanistan, and al-Qa`ida will return        leadership is equally important.            for socialization, indoctrination, and
to its pre-9/11 home and pose the same                                                    recruitment. In the years since 9/11 and
deadly threat as before. Pakistan would       The first type of interface consists of     particularly since the London bombings
then be likely to make an accommodation       affiliated or merged local organizations    in July 2005, Western governments have
with both the Taliban and al-Qa`ida.          with their own interests in specific        arrested or deported radical clerics and
This assumption appears to be the             conflict zones, such as Lashkar-i-          closed down mosques (or assisted in a
logic behind the current strategy of the      Tayyiba, al-Qa`ida in the Islamic           transfer of control).
Barack Obama administration. On the           Maghreb (AQIM), the Moroccan Islamic
other hand, there may be no coherent          Combatant Group, the revived al-Qa`ida      Recruits and Volunteers
“Taliban” but a mix of local interests.       in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)             A major concern is transnational
Such a weak coalition is not likely to        operating in Yemen, or al-Shabab in         recruitment in the West or among
secure control of the country, and even       Somalia. They are either branches of        individuals who move easily to and
if a faction of the Taliban did take power    the central organization or associates      from the West. From what little is
it might not be sympathetic to al-Qa`ida      that have adopted the al-Qa`ida brand       known, recruitment processes at the
and in fact might be hostile. After all,      or label. In return, al-Qa`ida central      individual level vary. Typically, it
it was al-Qa`ida’s recklessness that led      acquires transnational reach as well        is difficult to establish a connection
to the Taliban’s defeat in 2001. In fact,     as the all important image of a force       between a local militant and al-Qa`ida
some proponents of the new Afghanistan        that mobilizes Muslims around the           or to determine who took the initiative
strategy hope that pragmatic elements         world. Some of these alliances are          in making contact. As seen in the 9/11
of the Taliban will be willing to             fragile, as local affiliates discover the   conspiracy, the process combines both
compromise, which assumes that the            high price of joining. An important         volunteering and active recruiting by
Taliban is not monolithic and suggests        part of the al-Qa`ida brand is suicide      activists or organizers—it is bottom-up
that its disparate elements would not be      attacks on civilian targets, including on   and top-down at the same time. Some
able to control Afghanistan.                  Muslim civilians. This requirement has      individuals in the West initially travel
                                              apparently provoked dissension among        abroad to fight, but when they arrive al-
Another consideration is that al-Qa`ida       supporters. Nevertheless, a number of       Qa`ida leaders persuade them to return
may not need Afghanistan as long as           attacks and plots in the West can be        home to attack their own societies.
it has a base in Pakistan. How will           linked to these groups. They also pose

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                                                                                                                           jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


Key factors in recruitment include           divert potential extremists away from                            for attacking the West be altered as
family and social ties in the local          the path to terrorism. Hizb al-Tahrir                            circumstances change? What is the
setting as well as to a country of origin,   (also known as Hizb-ut-Tahrir), which                            implication of the surge in Afghanistan,
access to training camps, and collective     seeks the establishment of an Islamic                            coinciding with a drawdown in Iraq?
encouragement as well as contacts in         caliphate and is estimated to have a
institutions such as mosques, sports         million members worldwide, is a case in                          The narrative promoted by the top
centers, or prisons. Social network          point. Western governments have taken                            leadership—reflected in statements by
theory is often used to map out              different positions on this issue, some                          Bin Ladin, al-Zawahiri, the jihadist
these relationships (usually through         banning these organizations and others                           strategist Abu Mus`ab al-Suri, and
friendship and kinship networks).            not (usually on grounds of freedom of                            others—is that violent jihad is an
The internet also contributes to             speech and association).                                         obligatory response to encroachments
radicalization and recruitment, but                                                                           on Muslim lands by the “Crusaders
operational control probably requires        These associations may not be effective                          and    Jews.”    Jihad     is  considered
                                             substitutes    for   violence   because                          fundamentally defensive and thus
“The radicalization                          committed extremists are impatient                               essential as long as Islam is in danger.
                                             with endless philosophical discussion                            It is also an obligation at the level of
process can apparently                       and are eager for action. They are not                           the individual, as authorized by al-
occur quickly. Individuals                   attracted to moderate Islamism and do                            Qa`ida. The framing of terrorism as a
                                             not find its representatives persuasive                          defense against aggression toward the
can rapidly move from a                      or credible. This rejection is an                                umma (the Muslim community, not al-
secular lifestyle to extreme                 impediment to a policy that tries to end                         Qa`ida itself) and as an individual duty
                                             terrorism by encouraging moderates                               is coupled with another justification.
religiosity and then to the                  within the same general community of                             Al-Qa`ida explains terrorism as a way
endorsement of violence. It                  belief to take a stand against violent                           of making citizens of the West suffer
                                             extremism. It is important to remember,                          as Muslims have suffered—to establish
is difficult to predict who                  however, that those who use violence                             equivalence by bringing the war
will take this path.”                        are a tiny minority.                                             home. Communications emphasize the
                                                                                                              suffering of civilians at the hands of the
                                             Al-Qa`ida’s intentions                                           United States and its allies fighting in
                                             Considering        the   diversity    of                         Pakistan and Afghanistan. Palestinian
face-to-face contact. A recruiter may be     perspectives within the organization,                            victims of Israel are also cited as
in touch with an individual who then         it is unsurprising that al-Qa`ida’s                              evidence of the enemy’s perfidy.
reaches out to other individuals to form     motivations      are   not   necessarily
a conspiracy, or a recruiter may enlist      consistent or uniform. There are many                            These messages constitute powerful
an already-formed group that appears         currents of jihadist thought. 2 It is                            and urgent emotional appeals to defend
promising. Recruits have included first      also logical that the goals of the top                           one’s community and one’s faith and
generation, second generation, and even      leadership would be couched in vague                             to take revenge on their persecutors.
third generation immigrants as well as       terms, reflecting their conception of a                          Martyrdom is the highest expression
converts. Some are citizens, but others      minimum common denominator. The                                  of commitment (since the war in Iraq,
are illegal residents. Some appear well-     author’s interest is in the beliefs and                          it has become an al-Qa`ida trademark,
assimilated, well-educated, upwardly         objectives that drive attacks on the                             although suicide attacks began in the
mobile, and prosperous, while others         United States, especially attacks on or                          early 1980s and were initially conducted
are rootless and marginal. Some have         within the homeland, and on allies of                            by secular or Shi`a groups). There is
criminal backgrounds, some do not.           the United States. Will the rationale                            no indication of a change in the view
Most participants in these conspiracies                                                                       expressed by al-Qa`ida theoretician
are male, and in Western Europe most                                                                          Abu Mus`ab al-Suri in 2005: the lesson
                                             2 For a small selection of recent works on ideology and
were initially recruited in their country                                                                     of history is that terrorism is the most
                                             organization, see Devin R. Springer, James L. Regens,
of residence.                                                                                                 useful political method to compel an
                                             and David N. Edger, Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad
                                                                                                              opponent to surrender to one’s will. 3
                                             (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2009);
The    radicalization     process    can
                                             Jarret Brachman, Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice
apparently occur quickly. Individuals                                                                         Demonstrating that Muslims in the West
                                             (London and New York: Routledge, 2009); Raymond
can rapidly move from a secular lifestyle                                                                     can be mobilized in the service of these
                                             Ibrahim ed. and trans., The Al Qaeda Reader (New York:
to extreme religiosity and then to the                                                                        collective aims is a legitimizing device
                                             Broadway Books, 2007); Gilles Kepel et al., Al-Qaida dans
endorsement of violence. It is difficult                                                                      for al-Qa`ida. Sponsoring terrorist
                                             le Texte (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2005);
to predict who will take this path.                                                                           attacks in the West is an ideological
                                             Bruce Lawrence ed., Messages to the World: The Statements
                                                                                                              imperative, essential to al-Qa`ida’s
                                             of Osama Bin Laden (London: Verso, 2005); Mark E. Stout
An important policy question, and yet                                                                         identity and image. Promoting terrorism
                                             et al., The Terrorist Perspectives Project: Strategic and Op-
another point of dispute among experts,
                                             erational Views of Al Qaida and Associated Movements (An-
is whether or not non-violent Islamist-
                                             napolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2008); Brynjar Lia,          3 See “The Strategy of Deterring with Terrorism,” in “The
oriented organizations serve as conveyer
                                             Architect of Global Jihad: The Life of Al-Qaida Strategist Abu   Global Islamic Resistance Call,” (2005) excerpts translat-
belts for recruitment into underground
                                             Mus’ab al-Suri (New York: Columbia University Press,             ed as an appendix to Brynjar Lia, Architect of Global Jihad,
cells or instead as safety valves that
                                             2008).                                                           pp. 413-19. Al-Suri was captured in Pakistan in 2005.


                                             8
                                                                                                             jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


in the West is all the more important to    there has not been a successful attack              The Pakistan Military’s
their reputation because challenging        against a target in the West since 2005.
the United States in the Middle East        Criticism of their passivity presents a             Adaptation to
has failed so far, although al-Zawahiri     challenge for al-Qa`ida loyalists.                  Counterinsurgency in 2009
boasts that al-Qa`ida has won in every
conflict. The al-Qa`ida challenge to        Is there Muslim opposition to the al-               By sameer Lalwani
Saudi Arabia also collapsed, and Egypt      Qa`ida worldview? Some prominent
is a lost cause. The outcomes of the        Muslim clerics have taken a strong                  faced with a rising and emboldened
conflicts in Yemen and Somalia remain       stand against al-Qa`ida’s doctrine                  insurgency in its tribal belt, Pakistan’s
to be determined.                           (particularly in Saudi Arabia and                   military has come under fire in recent
                                            Egypt), but their critiques are unlikely            years for failure to adapt its military
Decentralization is also a practical        to moderate the views of major al-Qa`ida            doctrine, which is based around
response to pressure. Following the logic   leaders. Delegitimizing the jihadist                conventional      warfare,    to   tackle
that most terrorism is local, instigating   message might discourage potential                  the internal threats of insurgency
local cells to attack the enemy at home     recruits who have not yet moved to                  and terrorism. 1 Not adapting to
is the most effective way of reaching       violence, but it is almost impossible               unconventional warfare has been used
Western territory. Mounting an attack       to know. Al-Qa`ida and the Taliban                  to explain Pakistan’s failures to quell
from abroad is logistically difficult.      typically deflect internal criticism of             insurgency in the tribal areas, high
Al-Suri explicitly acknowledged that        bomb attacks that kill Muslim civilians             civilian and soldier casualties, rising
dispersion into small units is the          by evoking conspiracy theories: the true            levels of resentment and militancy,
most effective way of maintaining           perpetrators are invariably the Central             three major operational failures in
the organization and continuing the         Intelligence Agency, the Mossad,                    South Waziristan, and its overall poor
struggle in the face of the effectiveness   Pakistani intelligence, or other shadowy            battlefield performance. 2 Underscoring
of post-9/11 counterterrorism.              agents of the enemy.                                this concern is the mounting evidence of
                                                                                                Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) rapid
It is instructive to look at al-Qa`ida’s    Conclusion                                          learning and adaptation that poses a
and its sympathizers’ reactions to          Al-Qa`ida is declining, but it is                   serious threat to the state of Pakistan. 3
President Barack Obama’s speech             still a dangerous organization. It is
in Cairo in June 2009 calling for a         not a mass popular movement, but                    The     Pakistan    military’s    failure
new beginning as expressed in online        rather a complex, transnational, and                has been attributed to a number of
forums. In general, the initiative was      multilayered organization with both                 poor tactical choices since 2002,
interpreted as a threat. Al-Zawahiri        clandestine and above-ground elements.              including: 1) excessive focus on enemy
was scornful of Muslims who were            It has proved durable and persistent.               targeting and “high-value targets”; 2)
deceived into welcoming a dialogue or       The determination of its leaders to attack          overdependence on large-scale multi-
partnership with the West. Al-Zawahiri      the United States is undiminished and               unit forces (mostly brigade level) rather
appealed to nationalism in both Egypt       might strengthen as the organization is             than smaller units dispersed among the
and Pakistan (interestingly, speaking       threatened, but another attack on the               population; 3) frequent deployment of
in English to a Pakistani audience and      scale of 9/11 is unlikely.                          forces to static garrisons or defensive
referring frequently to the honor of the                                                        positions inhibiting proactive actions;
military). Jihadist online circles also     Dr. Martha Crenshaw is a Senior Fellow at           4) inadequate resources for flexible
seemed alarmed by Muslims’ positive         the Center for International Security and           responses to contingencies such as
reception of the Obama message. One         Cooperation (CISAC) and the Freeman Spogli          quick reaction forces; 5) over-reliance
theme of jihadist discourse is that         Institute for International Studies, as well as     on kinetic “direct-action” operations
Obama’s deceptive “sweet-talk” and          Professor of Political Science, by courtesy, at     and heavy firepower; and finally 6) an
cajoling cannot be permitted to weaken      Stanford University. She is also Professor of
Muslim hatred for the United States.        Government Emerita at Wesleyan University,          1 This critique has been advanced by a number of promi-
Another is that U.S. policy will not        where she taught from 1974 to 2007. She is a        nent security analysts and includes: David Kilcullen,
change—the new approach renouncing          lead investigator with the National Center for      “Terrain, Tribes, and Terrorists: Pakistan, 2006-2008,”
the war on terrorism is mere rhetoric,      the Study of Terrorism and the Response to          Brookings Counterinsurgency and Pakistan Paper Se-
and the United States will continue to      Terrorism (NC-START) at the University of           ries, No. 3, September 10, 2009; Ahmed Rashid, “Paki-
kill Muslims and support Israel. These      Maryland. Dr. Crenshaw is a former President of     stan’s Continued Failure to Adopt a Counterinsurgency
views will be reinforced by the new         the International Society of Political Psychology   Strategy,” CTC Sentinel 2:3 (2009); Seth G. Jones, “Paki-
strategy in Afghanistan; no matter how      (ISPP) and was a Guggenheim Fellow in               stan’s Dangerous Game,” Survival 49:1 (2007).
careful U.S. forces try to be, civilian     2005-2006. Her current research focuses on          2 One anonymous Western analyst quoted by the Econo-
casualties are inevitable.                  why the United States is a target of terrorism      mist estimated that Pakistan had lost 70% of its battles
                                            and the effectiveness of countermeasures            with the Taliban. See “Pakistan and the Taliban: A Real
A common view in these discussions is       against terrorism. She recently edited The          Offensive or a Phony War?” Economist, April 30, 2009.
that jihadists must act because of the      Consequences        of       Counterterrorism,      3 Some examples of analysts underscoring the role of ad-
cowardice of leaders in Muslim countries    forthcoming from the Russell Sage Foundation.       aptation by both insurgent and counterinsurgent parties
(Egypt and Saudi Arabia in particular),                                                         includes Ejaz Haider, “Agency to GHQ,” Indian Express,
including the ulama or clergy. Online                                                           October 13, 2009; Shaukat Qadir, “The Taliban Diaries,”
comments also remind audiences that                                                             Daily Times, June 20, 2009.


                                            9
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underuse of local forces’ capacity and                      Bajaur: Operation Sherdil (Lion Heart)                         previous Pakistani military forays in
knowledge. 4 These choices generally                        After a series of tactical and strategic                       the tribal region.
defy counterinsurgency doctrine—now                         disasters in the tribal areas, 7 the military
ascendant in U.S. and Western political                     achieved a reversal in fortunes through                        The patient, methodical clearing of
discourse—which calls for political over                    tactical shifts in Bajaur Agency. The                          the Taliban from Bajaur strayed from
military solutions, population security                     objective of Operation Sherdil, which                          conventional operations and made
over enemy targeting, ground forces                         occurred from August 2008 through                              significant use of new tactics and human
over airpower, and small rather than                        February 2009, was more ambitious                              intelligence. 10 Militants in Bajaur
large force deployments for missions                        than previous punitive efforts, seeking to                     were deeply entrenched, requiring the
(such as patrols, intelligence gathering,                   target and dismantle the nerve center of                       military to move out the remaining
and    development      assistance).   In                   the TTP’s northern operations. General                         villagers to utilize airpower and heavy
essence, these practices expose troops                      Tariq Khan, the former commander                               artillery for combined arms maneuvers
to greater vulnerability to achieve more                    of the 14 th Infantry Division who took                        that drew militants out of their
discriminatory use of force. 5                              command of the North-West Frontier                             positions. 11 Airstrikes and artillery fire
                                                            Province Frontier Corps (FC), stated,                          were quickly followed by ground forces
While the characterization of Pakistan’s                                                                                   that took advantage of suppressive fire to
doctrinal focus on conventional warfare                          If we dismantle the training                              better target militants, and used mobile
is correct—an     unsurprising feature                           camps here, the headquarters,                             forces and helicopters for transport
given the country’s high external                                the communication centres, the                            and intimate air support. 12 By the same
threat environment 6 —and unlikely to                            roots which come in, stop the                             token, the more discriminate use of
change, the past year has witnessed                              interagency movement and destroy                          force that reduced civilian casualties
substantial improvement in the conduct                           the leadership…we feel that about                         increased troop vulnerability resulting
                                                                 65 per cent or so of militancy [in                        in higher Pakistani military casualties. 13
“Rather than replicating                                         the five northern Agencies] will                          Despite criticisms of their capabilities
                                                                 have been controlled. 8                                   and loyalties, 14 the FC evolved into a
the mistakes of past                                                                                                       more competent and useful localized
assaults that had simply                                    After months of failed brute suppression                       force spearheading the gradual erosion
                                                            and coercive assaults, the field reports of                    of insurgent power over many months
displaced the Taliban to                                    many junior officers led General Khan to                       along the central arterial roadways of
neighboring districts, the                                  shift tactics to a more population-centric                     the tribal agency. 15
                                                            approach by early 2009, making greater
military combined assets                                    use of patrols, lashkars (militias), and                       Only toward the conclusion of successful
from the army and air                                       tribal councils. 9 This within-operation                       operations and the establishment of
                                                            adaptation that utilized battlefield                           credible force in March 2009 did the
force in joint operations to                                reports and substantial junior officer                         military negotiate with the Mamood
‘corner, choke, contain.’”                                  input proved a unique “lessons learned”                        tribe to dismantle and surrender Taliban
                                                            process and signaled a departure from                          militants. 16 By negotiating from a
                                                                                                                           position of strength and employing local
                                                            7 The Pakistani military exhibited a series of disastrous      forces to carry out demobilization, the
and outcomes of Pakistani military                          operations from 2004-2007 that resulted in cycles of           military was able to establish a system
operations. The sustainability of recent                    offensives, defeats, and three sets of negotiations and        of local security that neither appeased
gains remains contingent on future                          concessions with the Taliban (in 2004, 2005 and 2006),         militants nor galvanized resistance to a
political choices, civilian capacity, and                   providing the insurgency strength and legitimacy. This         military occupation.
successive operational phases. This                         stemmed from underestimating the enemy, a firepower
article, however, contends that the                         intensive approach, and overreliance on the Frontier           Although militant activity in Bajaur
Pakistan military’s efforts in Bajaur                       Corps, which at the time was under-equipped and                Agency is reported to have flared up
Agency, the Swat Valley, and South                          under-trained. The capstone of this humiliation was an         in November 2009, with an FC convoy
Waziristan     Agency     have    already                   ambush in which more than 200 Pakistani soldiers were
showcased a diligent institutional                          captured without a fight. One Western analyst estimated
learning process that has produced                          that the military had lost 70% of its battles with the Tali-   10 Personal interview, General (Ret.) Mahmud Durrani,
significant tactical adaptations yielding                   ban. For details on the ambush, see BBC News, October          former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, De-
increasing tactical success.                                9, 2007. For the battle estimate, see Economist, April 30,     cember 17, 2009.
                                                            2009. For more details on prior campaign failures, see         11 Witness: Pakistan’s War: On the Front Line, al-Jazira,
                                                            Christine Fair and Seth G. Jones, “Pakistan’s War With-        January 4, 2009.
                                                            in,” Survival 51:6 (2009): p. 168.                             12 Durrani.
4 Kilcullen.                                                8 Brian Cloughley, “Insurrection, Terrorism, and the           13 Cloughley, p. 17.
5 Stephen Biddle, “The New U.S. Army/Marine Corps           Pakistan Army,” Pakistan Security Research Unit Brief,         14 Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason, “No Sign
Counterinsurgency Field Manual as Political Science and     December 10, 2009, p. 17.                                      Until the Burst of Fire: Understanding the Pakistan-Af-
Political Praxis,” Perspectives on Politics 6:2 (2008).     9 Haider Ali Hussein Mullick, “Helping Pakistan Defeat         ghanistan Frontier,” International Security 32:4 (2008): p.
6 Sameer Lalwani, Pakistani Capabilities for a Counterin-   the Taliban: A Joint Action Agenda for the United States       76.
surgency Campaign: A Net Assessment (Washington, D.C.:      & Pakistan,” Institute for Social Policy and Understand-       15 Witness: Pakistan’s War: On the Front Line.
New America Foundation, 2009).                              ing, August 2009, p. 19.                                       16 Cloughley.

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                                                                                                                                    jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


being ambushed, 17 this is due in large                 the military combined assets from the                        military relations, 28 cycles of political
part to strained resources being utilized               army and air force in joint operations                       instability, 29 and calcified, regressive
for the South Waziristan campaign that                  to “corner, choke, contain”—making                           economic institutions. 30
will test the enduring nature of tactical               greater efforts to block escape routes
innovations.                                            and drive the Taliban out of mountain                        South Waziristan:
                                                        hideouts. 21 Pakistan’s Special Service                      Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation)
Swat Valley: Operation Rah-e-Rast (Path to              Group      (SSG)—basically    Pakistan’s                     After suffering three humiliating
Righteousness)                                          special forces—was also deployed to                          defeats in South Waziristan since
Building on successes in Bajaur, the                    secure areas for helicopter assaults                         2004, the military approached its latest
military turned its attention to a                      north of Swat’s largest city, Mingora. 22                    operation in the agency better equipped
deteriorating situation in the Swat                     Moreover, rather than moving on to                           and with an estimated 30,000-60,000
Valley and its surroundings from the                    the next target after clearing areas, the                    troops. 31 Although officially launched
end of April to mid-June 2009. Aside                    military retained an enduring presence                       on October 17, 2009, preliminary efforts
from properly resourcing the Swat                       with small bases and detachments                             to shape the operation began as early as
operation with much higher levels                       of troops to conduct local patrols,                          the spring of 2009, preparing the way
of troops (roughly 52,000) along                        enforce curfews, and prevent TTP re-                         for the ground assault. Intelligence
with intelligence and air assets, 18                    infiltration. 23                                             assets embedded in the area enabled
                                                                                                                     interception of TTP communications 32
                                                        In contrast to strategic assessments                         and assisted with targeting TTP ground
“While the military                                     discounting      Pakistani       military                    establishments for Pakistani airstrikes
has demonstrated its                                    innovation, 24  the   Swat    operation                      and the highly controversial U.S. drone
                                                        revealed a surprising degree of junior                       attacks. 33 The military established a
increasing proficiency                                  officer creativity on the battlefield                        blockade around the target area for two
in phase one ‘clear’                                    including the combined use of human,                         months prior to the ground assault to
                                                        signal, and imagery intelligence as well                     cut-off movement and supply routes
operations, the ‘hold’ phase                            as conventional weaponry employed                            while airstrikes and shelling softened
will test Pakistani adaptive                            in    unconventional    ways. 25   More                      enemy targets. 34 After the military
                                                        importantly, these lessons learned                           recognized the value of blocking forces
capabilities as well as the                             were quickly shared and disseminated                         in Bajaur and Swat, they were heavily
sustainability of its divide-                           to inculcate the practice of bottom-up                       emphasized and utilized during the
                                                        innovation. 26                                               South Waziristan assault, 35 although
and-rule approach as it                                                                                              their efficacy has been disputed by
seeks to rebuild dilapidated                            Consolidating the military’s tactical                        outside assessments. 36
                                                        success    in    Swat     depends   upon
tribal structures to restore                            subsequent phases. The reincorporation                       28 Ayesha Jalal, The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of
stability.”                                             of two million IDPs will prove                               Pakistan’s Political Economy of Defense (Cambridge: Cam-
                                                        challenging     alongside     maintaining                    bridge University Press, 1990); Ayesha Siddiqa, Military
                                                        security    and    rebuilding   decaying                     Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy (London: Pluto
                                                        economic and governance institutions                         Press, 2007).
the distinguishing innovation of the                    that had allowed for Taliban takeover. 27                    29 Paul Staniland, “The Poisoned Chalice: Military Cul-
operation was the deliberate mass                       Further constraints will be posed by                         ture, Contentious Politics, and Cycles of Regime Change
evacuation of the population to better                  limited resources and systemic problems                      in Pakistan,” MIT working paper, 2009.
target insurgents and reduce collateral                 including     historically   poor   civil-                   30 Omar Noman, Economic and Social Progress in Asia:
damage. 19 After clearing out militants,                                                                             Why Pakistan Did Not Become a Tiger (Oxford: Oxford
the military merged with some civilian                                                                               University Press, 1997); John R. Schmidt, “The Unravel-
efforts to shift to a more population-                  21 Mullick, p. 21.                                           ing of Pakistan,” Survival 51:3 (2009).
centric approach by working to resettle                 22 “Pakistan Raids Taleban Stronghold,” BBC, May 12,         31 This included at least two regular infantry divisions.
the internally displaced persons (IDPs),                2009; Cloughley, p. 14.                                      See Rahimullah Yusufzai, “Assessing the Progress of
re-establish the writ of governance, and                23 Mullick, p. 21.                                           Pakistan’s South Waziristan Offensive,” CTC Sentinel
rebuild the local economy, although                     24 Daniel Byman, “Friends Like These,” International Se-     2:12 (2009).
this process is ongoing and remains in                  curity 31:2 (2006).                                          32 Bukhari.
the balance. 20                                         25 Mullick described how commanders bucked field             33 Haider. For more on the drone strikes, see Jane May-
                                                        manuals by using soldiers to help refugees escape before     er, “The Predator War,” New Yorker, October 26, 2009.
Rather than replicating the mistakes of                 the use of heavy artillery, combining intelligence sources   34 Haider; Cloughley; Frederick Kagan, Reza Jan and
past assaults that had simply displaced                 to improve targeting, and deploying tanks in urban areas     Charlie Szrom, “The War in Waziristan: Operation Rah-
the Taliban to neighboring districts,                   to target snipers. See Mullick, p. 22.                       e-Nijat - Phase 1 Analysis,” www.criticalthreats.org, No-
                                                        26 Ibid.                                                     vember 18, 2009.
17 Ibid.                                                27 Due to a severe economic crunch, reconstruction           35 Personal interview, Shuja Nawaz, December 2009.
18 Shuja Nawaz, “Pakistan’s Summer of Chaos,” Foreign   has not yet begun in Swat. See Syed Adnan Ali Shah           Also see Durrani.
Policy, June 18, 2009.                                  Bukhari, “New Strategies in Pakistan’s Counter-Insur-        36 Imtiaz Ali, “Military Victory in South Waziristan or
19 Durrani.                                             gency Operation in South Waziristan,” Terrorism Moni-        the Beginning of a Long War?” Terrorism Monitor 7:38
20 Ibid.                                                tor 7:37 (2009).                                             (2009). Also see Yusufzai.


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                                                                                                                                        jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


During     the   operation,    significant                  Second, the military experimented                              and the expansion of operations against
airpower was combined with rapid                            with      psychological        operations,                     soft targets beyond their conventional
follow-on ground assaults. 37 For the                       distributing leaflets supposedly from                          theater in recent months—all suggest
first time, the Pakistani military                          religious authorities and local tribes                         that the Pakistani Taliban have not been
purportedly      received     operational                   that warned youth of “false jihad” and                         dismantled but remain organizationally
intelligence support from U.S. drones                       blamed foreign militants for ushering                          intact. 49
to assist with navigation and targeting                     destruction into the tribal areas. 44 Third,
in mountainous terrain. 38 Learning                         the military waited for a proximate                            Conclusion
from the 2004 South Waziristan and                          cause—the insurgent assault on the                             Leading Pakistani national security
the 2008 Bajaur operations, regular                         army’s headquarters in October—to                              experts have themselves been divided
forces advanced from multiple axes                          rally popular support and ensure the                           over the pace of learning and adaptation
and seized the high ground to encircle                      operation was perceived as Pakistan’s                          within the military. While the military
and control valleys. SSG forces were                        own offensive, not one at the behest of the                    leadership has expressed confidence in
integrated into the operation to mop                        United States. 45 The focus on conducting                      its capacities and training facilities, 50
up insurgents as the army advanced                          psychological       and       information                      and analysts have praised the military’s
and to secure the heights and key nodal                     operations, amassing popular support,                          swift adaptation and remarkable learning
points. 39 The military also responded                      and dividing insurgents to limit the                           curve under logistical independence, 51
to insurgent innovation and tactical                        scope of operations all factored into the                      others, such as former Chief Secretary
diffusion from Afghanistan that had                         moderately successful outcome.                                 of the NWFP Khalid Aziz and former
introduced anti-aircraft weapons and                                                                                       Inspector General of the Frontier
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to                      While acknowledging the tactical                               Corps Major-General Mohammad Alam
the Pakistani battlefield. 40 Precision-                    success of the operation, former                               Khattak, have expressed a significant
targeting by Pakistani jets was able to                     generals    have    publicly    expressed                      need for Pakistan to adapt faster to the
neutralize anti-aircraft weapons, which                     skepticism over the sustainability of the                      demands of counterinsurgency. 52
could disrupt close air support, and                        Pakistan military’s gains, predicting
effective route clearance limited damage                    that dispersed militants will regroup                          A close examination of the 2009
from IEDs. 41                                               and resume hit-and-run operations                              operations in Bajaur, Swat, and South
                                                            against the Pakistani Army within                              Waziristan testify to the Pakistan
Politically innovative tactics also                         months 46 (a development that appears                          military’s learning from previous
effectively shaped the environment prior                    to have already begun 47 ). The military’s                     tactical blunders of indiscriminate
to the operation. The first new tactic was                  expected presence for three to four                            violence that produced tremendous
narrowing the scope of the mission to                       months in the region could become a                            collateral damage and only enflamed
target the Mehsud tribe while securing                      target for resistance and attacks, but an                      the insurgency. 53 The cost of innovation,
the neutrality of other powerful tribal                     early departure could quickly unravel                          however, has been high casualty rates
groups led by Maulvi Nazir and Hafiz                        the hard-fought gains. 48 Moreover,                            and the creation of new challenges,
Gul Bahadur, whose participation in the                     despite being dislodged from their                             particularly the hundreds of thousands
insurgency had foiled previous regional                     strongholds, a number of factors—                              of IDPs created in the 2009 operations.
operations. 42 Even after they renounced                    the escape of the TTP leadership, the                          While the military has demonstrated
their neutrality when operations began,                     relatively few numbers of militants                            its increasing proficiency in phase one
there seems to be little evidence that                      killed (600 out of an estimated 10,000),                       “clear” operations, the “hold” phase will
fighters from their tribes actually fought                                                                                 test Pakistani adaptive capabilities as
with the militants in the Mehsud camp                       44 Ibid., p. 20.                                               well as the sustainability of its divide-
or attacked Pakistani forces, suggesting                    45 Ali.                                                        and-rule approach as it seeks to rebuild
this was more of a face-saving political                    46 Retired General Talat Masood is quoted as saying,           dilapidated tribal structures to restore
gesture rather than a defection from                        “The militants have the capacity to regroup and come           stability. 54 As this process moves from
their original agreement with the                           back…South Waziristan has been a tactical success of
military. 43                                                sorts, but by no means is it a victory.” See Alex Rodriguez,   49 Ali; Yusufzai. Based on off-the-record conversations,
                                                            “Pakistan Taliban Regrouping Outside Waziristan,” Los          this appears to be corroborated by Pakistani military as-
37 Bukhari. One analyst in close contact with Pakistani     Angeles Times, November 26, 2009. Retired General Jav-         sessments as well.
military headquarters estimated there were initially        ed Hussein is quoted as stating, “Three or four months         50 This is evidenced by General Kayani’s rejection of
more than 140 targets slated for airstrikes.                from now, they (the Taliban) are going to bounce back.         counterinsurgency training. See “Counter-Insurgency
38 Julian E. Barnes and Greg Miller, “U.S. Aiding Paki-     When the army is deployed to hold the area, the gueril-        Training Facilities Developed: Kayani,” Daily Times, May
stani Military Offensive,” Los Angeles Times, October 23,   las will start their hit-and-run attacks against the army’s    17, 2009.
2009; Bukhari.                                              lines of communication, and all over the tribal area.” See     51 Mullick; Shaukat Qadir, “Guerilla Warfare,” Daily
39 Haider; Frederick Kagan, Reza Jan and Charlie Sz-        Saeed Shah, “Big Pakistan Offensive has Failed to Nab          Times, September 26, 2009.
rom, “The War in Waziristan: Week 1 Analysis of Op-         Any Taliban Leaders,” McClatchy Newspapers, Novem-             52 Khalid Aziz, “Need for a Counterinsurgency Strat-
eration Rah-e-Nijat,” www.criticalthreats.org, October      ber 24, 2009.                                                  egy,” The News International, June 15, 2008. On Khattack,
26, 2009.                                                   47 Yusufzai.                                                   see Muhammad Khurshid Khan, “Analyzing Domestic
40 Johnson and Mason, p. 67.                                48 Kagan et al. indicate that the military will continue to    Terrorism as a Threat to Pakistan’s Security and the
41 Kagan et al., October 26, 2009.                          stay for a period of time, but Johnson and Mason predict       Policy Response,” IPRI Journal 9:2 (2009): p. 61.
42 Durrani; Cloughley, p. 19.                               fierce resistance by Pashtun tribal groups toward any          53 Johnson and Mason, p. 74.
43 Cloughley, p. 19.                                        centralizing efforts.                                          54 Yusufzai. Durrani confirmed the military and stra-


                                                            12
                                                                                                                                       jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


tactical to strategic shifts, greater                                                                                      October and early November 2009,
resistance will be encountered.
                                                              Karachi Becoming a                                           Karachi police arrested more than
                                                              Taliban Safe Haven?                                          450 illegal foreign residents, mostly
The Pakistan military’s learning and                                                                                       Afghan and Uzbek citizens suspected of
adaptation has been characterized by                          By Imtiaz Ali                                                having ties to militants. 6 Moreover, 70
many analysts inside and outside of                                                                                        militants with access to suicide jackets,
Pakistan as a cumulative “learning                            karachi is the backbone of Pakistan’s                        rocket launchers and other explosives
by doing” process, 55 suggesting that                         economy and the country’s largest city                       were arrested in the closing months of
there will be gradual adjustments                             of 18 million people. 1 The city has a                       2009. 7
over time within Pakistan’s approach                          history of ethnic and sectarian violence,
to counterinsurgency rather than a                            yet in the last few years it has managed                     This article will provide background on
dramatic doctrinal shift 56 or wholesale                      to maintain relative peace. Since 2009,                      the city of Karachi, including how it is
adoption of Western militaries’ “best                         however, there has been an uptick in                         home to jihadist and sectarian groups, as
practices” by way of U.S. Army Field                          violent activity in Karachi, culminating                     well as explaining why Taliban fighters
Manual 3-24. This seemingly languid pace                      with the December 28, 2009 bombing                           are increasingly moving to the city.
of Pakistani adaptation will continue to                      of a Shi`a Ashura religious procession
be the result of finite and overstretched                     that left more than 30 people dead. 2                        Brief Demography of Karachi
resources, 57 the inherently difficult                        The attack was not only followed by                          Karachi is Pakistan’s financial hub
pace of organizational adaptation, 58 and                     an unprecedented level of looting, but                       and its most populated city. It was the
the divergence of Pakistani strategic                         it plunged Karachi into a fresh wave of                      country’s first capital after it achieved
interests in the region from the United                       targeted killings. 3                                         independence in 1947, until it was
States and NATO. 59                                                                                                        moved to Rawalpindi in 1958 and then
                                                              These developments are alarming                              Islamabad in 1960. Karachi is located
Sameer Lalwani is a Ph.D. student in the                      because the destabilization of Karachi                       in a strategic geographic position. It is
Department of Political Science at the                        would have profound effects on                               on the shores of the Indian Ocean and
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.                        Pakistan. Karachi houses Pakistan’s                          is a major Pakistani port. It is a primary
He is an affiliate of the MIT Security                        central bank and its largest stock                           entryway for supplies to U.S. and NATO
Studies Program and a Research Fellow                         exchange, and generates 68% of the                           troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
at the New America Foundation studying                        government’s revenue and 25% of the                          Its population has grown to more than
civil-military relations, civil-conflict,                     country’s gross domestic product. 4                          18 million, and it is home to several
and national security decision-making                                                                                      different ethnicities and religions. 8
with a focus on Middle East and South                         It is clear that fighters from multiple                      Although 96% of the city is Muslim, it
Asian geopolitics. He recently published                      Taliban    factions   are   increasingly                     is estimated that 30% of that number
a net assessment on Pakistani military                        moving to the city. Militants continue                       ascribes to the minority Shi`a faith; this
capabilities for counterinsurgency.                           to flee U.S. drone strikes and Pakistani                     has resulted in sectarian violence over
                                                              military operations in the country’s                         the years between minority Shi`a and
                                                              northwest tribal regions. In fact, two                       majority Sunni Muslims. 9 Karachi is
                                                              months ago news reports speculated                           home to a sprawling network of madrasas
                                                              that Taliban supreme leader Mullah                           (religious schools) and jihadist militant
                                                              Omar himself shifted his base from                           groups.
tegic leadership was coming to terms with this insight,       Quetta to Karachi. 5 Between late
made by outside observers including Johnson and Ma-                                                                        The city is home to the world’s largest
son, p. 73.                                                   1 Pamela Constable, “Bombing and Fire Disrupt a Frag-        number of Pashtuns. In Karachi, the
55 Durrani; Stephen P. Cohen and Shuja Nawaz, “Mas-           ile Peace in Karachi, Pakistan,” Washington Post, January    more than 3.5 million Pashtuns 10 are
tering Counterinsurgency: A Workshop Report,” Brook-          4, 2010.                                                     second only to the Urdu-speaking
ings Counterinsurgency and Pakistan Paper Series, July        2 A faction of the Pakistani Taliban initially took credit   Muhajir, 11 who are the biggest ethnic
7, 2009.                                                      for the attack, but the government blamed Lashkar-i-
56 Mullick argues this indicates a doctrinal shift (p. 23)    Jhangvi. See “Suicide Bombing in Karachi Kills 30,” CBS      Karachi,” Newsweek, November 28, 2009.
but conversations with other analysts including Shuja         News, December 28, 2009; “Taliban Claim Karachi Sui-         6 Farhan Sharif and Naween Mangi, “Karachi Police
Nawaz and Moeed Yusuf imply otherwise—that this               cide Attack Responsibility,” The Nation, December 30,        Hunt Terror Cells as Taliban Flee Army,” Bloomberg,
is a more graduated adaptation and that doctrinal shift       2009; Geo TV, December 28, 2009; Amir Wasim, “Ma-            November 6, 2009.
will not occur without a serious investment in retraining     lik Blames LJ for Karachi Ashura Blast,” Dawn, January       7 Ibid.
through the establishment of a staff college or local coun-   15, 2010.                                                    8 Aziz and Birsel.
terinsurgency training school.                                3 Salis bin Perwaiz, “Political Violence Continues on        9 This is according to Pakistan’s 1998 census. For de-
57 Durrani; Lalwani.                                          Fourth Day,” The News, January 11, 2010.                     tails, see www.ucl.ac.uk/dpu-projects/Global_Report/
58 Austin Long, “Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence: The          4 Faisal Aziz and Robert Birsel, “Pakistan’s Karachi the     pdfs/Karachi.pdf.
U.S. Military and Counterinsurgency Doctrine, 1960-           Taliban Revenue Engine – Mayor,” Reuters, December 2,        10 “Editorial: Prospects of a ‘Quick Finish’ in Swat,”
1970 and 2003-2006,” RAND Counterinsurgency                   2009.                                                        Daily Times, May 13, 2009.
Study, No. 6, 2008.                                           5 “Mullah Omar in Karachi: Report,” The Nation, No-          11 Muhajir, politically organized into the Muttahida
59 Moeed Yusuf, “Rational Institutional Design, Per-          vember 20, 2009; Eli Lake, Sara A. Carter and Barbara        Qaumi Movement (MQM), are the descendents of Urdu-
verse Incentives, and the US-Pakistan Partnership in          Slavin, “Taliban Chief Hides in Karachi,” Washington         speaking Indians who migrated from India after the
post-9/11,” Defence Against Terrorism Review 2:1 (2009).      Times, November 20, 2009; Ron Moreau, “Sheltered in          creation of Pakistan in 1947. They are the biggest com-

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                                                                                                                                  jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


community in Karachi, dominate the                          2007—were serious and hundreds of                         al-Qa`ida leaders in Afghanistan,
city’s administration, are constantly at                    people were killed. Conflicts in Karachi                  including Mullah Omar and Usama
odds with the Pashtuns, and are ardently                    generally erupt over ethnic issues and                    bin Ladin. 17 The Binori madrasa is also
anti-Taliban. Karachi’s demography has                      the struggle for power and resources in                   accused of fanning anti-Shi`a and anti-
been changing rapidly, attracting people                    the city. Muhajir, Pashtuns and Sindhis                   Barelvi violence. Four leading scholars
due to its vast business opportunities                      have been at the center of the clashes.                   of the madrasa were killed in retaliation
and educational facilities—both secular                     During the last 15 years, however,                        by other sects. 18 The Binori madrasa is
and religious. The city suffers from                        the nature of the violence in Karachi                     known for helping to sustain a number
high ethnic tensions and cultural and                       has shifted toward sectarianism and                       of jihadist outfits, including HuM, JM
religious divisions. Karachi’s police                       jihadism. The Afghan jihad of the 1980s                   and SSP. 19
estimate that there are more than 5,000                     left a deep impact on the city. Karachi
armed militants from various jihadist                       attracted not only thousands of Afghan                    Jamiatul Rasheed Ehsanabad, Jamia
groups located in the city, which has                       refugees, but it was overrun with                         Ashraful Madaris, Jamia Ehsanul
further disrupted the complex fabric of                     weapons and jihadist outfits as well                      Uloom, Jamia Anwarul Quran, Madrasa
society. 12 Once known as the “Paris of                     as sectarian militant groups. Since the                   Khalid Bin Walid, and Darul Uloom
Asia” or the “City of Lights,” Karachi                      mid-1990s, Sunni and Shi`a sectarian                      Rehmania are some of the prominent
is unfortunately quickly turning into a                     groups have fought each other in bloody                   madrasas in Karachi that are suspected
lawless city where banks are looted and                     battles. Even groups within the Sunni                     of having links to sectarian and
businessmen kidnapped for ransom.                           sect have engaged one another.                            jihadist groups. 20 These madrasas have

Home to jihadist and Sectarian Groups                       Almost all of the sectarian and jihadist
Since the early 1990s, Karachi has                          outfits in Karachi trace their background                 “Taliban fighters and
been a safe haven for leaders of several                    to the city’s leading madrasas where                      other militant groups have
militant groups such as Harkat-ul-                          they received ideological and financial
Mujahidin (HuM), Lashkar-i-Jhangvi                          support during the anti-Soviet jihad                      long considered Karachi
(LJ), Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islam (HuJI),                      and in the post-jihad era. These madrasas                 a safe location because it
Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Jaysh-                       may be playing a similar role today.
i-Muhammad (JM), Lashkar-i-Tayyiba                                                                                    is unlikely the city would
(LT)    and     lately   Tehrik-i-Taliban                   Madrasa Networks                                          ever face a major military
Pakistan (TTP). Al-Qa`ida operatives                        During General Zia-ul-Haq’s 11-year rule,
have also been found in the city, seen                      Karachi experienced the tremendous                        operation or drone attacks.
through the arrest of Ramzi bin al-                         growth of madrasa networks. According                     Such a development could
Shibh on September 11, 2002. U.S.                           to government estimates, out of a total
journalist Daniel Pearl was abducted                        of 1,248 madrasas in Sindh Province, at                   cause huge political and
and beheaded in Karachi in 2002.                            least 869 of these exist in Karachi. 14                   economic fallout and the
Moreover, when leading politician                           The Madrasa Federation of Deobandi
Benazir Bhutto’s convoy was traveling                       Wafaq al-Madaris, however, claims to                      ultimate destabilization of
through Karachi in 2007, she narrowly                       have 1,872 madrasas in Karachi. 15 It also                Pakistan.”
escaped an assassination attempt in                         puts the number of Deobandi madrasas at
which more than 100 people were killed.                     1,500, Barelvi madrasas at 300 and Shi`a
Karachi was also used as a launching                        and Ahl-e-Hadith at 36 each.
point for the LT militants who attacked                                                                               attracted thousands of foreign students.
India’s financial hub of Mumbai in                          Deobandi madrasas have played a leading                   According to government reports in
2008; moreover, the Mumbai militants                        role in violence. 16 The Binori town                      2003, 10,905 foreign students were
reportedly coordinated their assault                        madrasa in Karachi has always been at                     in Karachi studying at madrasas. 21
via cellular telephone with a contact in                    the forefront of jihad. Jihadist leaders                  Due to strict government policies in
Karachi. 13                                                 from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and                        recent years, their numbers have been
                                                            some from Arab countries, frequently                      significantly reduced, but the exact
Karachi has also witnessed several                          visited Binori for religious and spiritual                number of foreign students in Pakistani
bloody conflicts in recent decades. Three                   guidance during the 1980s and 1990s.                      madrasas today is not known. As Taliban
of these conflicts—in 1986, 1994 and                        The leader of the Binori town madrasa,                    fighters move to Karachi, it is likely
                                                            Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai (who was                         that they will find support from within
munity in Karachi and dominate the city’s administra-       killed in Karachi in 2004) enjoyed                        the madrasa network.
tion. During the 1990s, the MQM was involved in bloody      close relations with the Taliban and
factional clashes. Now, however, they are part of the                                                                 17 Zarar Khan, “Senior Sunni Muslim Cleric Gunned
coalition government in Pakistan’s parliament. They are     14 “Karachi: 11,000 Foreigners in Sindh Madaris,” Dawn,   Down in Karachi, Sparking Unrest,” Associated Press,
anti-Taliban.                                               January 16, 2003.                                         May 30, 2004.
12 Huma Yusuf, “The Karachi Question: Ethnicity or Ex-      15 “Pakistan: Karachi’s Madrasas and Violent Extrem-      18 “Pakistan: Karachi’s Madrasas and Violent Extrem-
tremism?” Dawn, April 30, 2009.                             ism,” International Crisis Group, March 29, 2007.         ism.”
13 Huma Yusuf, “Launch Point for Mumbai Attacks, Ka-        16 For a background report on Deobandi Islam, see Luv     19 Ibid.
rachi Faces Rising Militancy,” Christian Science Monitor,   Puri, “The Past and Future of Deobandi Islam,” CTC Sen-   20 Ibid.
January 14, 2009.                                           tinel 2:11 (2009).                                        21 “Karachi: 11,000 Foreigners in Sindh Madaris.”


                                                            14
                                                                                                                              jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


Growing Taliban Activity in Karachi                       generators for the Taliban. There are                  Muhajir, have led to shutdowns of the
U.S. drone attacks are proving to be                      also a rising number of incidences of                  super highway.
one of the biggest challenges al-Qa`ida                   Taliban militants threatening music and
operatives and Taliban leaders have ever                  CD shop owners. In Pashtun-dominated                   It has not been easy for the police to
faced. Multiple al-Qa`ida and Taliban                     areas such as Sohrab Goth and Baldia                   arrest Taliban suspects in Karachi.
leaders have been killed by the drones,                   Town, walls and bridges carry graffiti                 Approximately       200,000    displaced
including the former head of the TTP,                     such as “Long Live the Taliban” and                    refugees from the conflict zones in the
Baitullah Mehsud. The U.S. government                     “Welcome to the Taliban.” 23 The Pashtun               North-West Frontier Province and the
has clearly increased its intelligence                    community denounces the Taliban and                    Federally Administered Tribal Areas
assets in the tribal region, evidenced by                 claims that the MQM is exaggerating                    have migrated to Karachi in the last
the rising number of successful strikes.                  the level of Taliban activity in Karachi               year due to ongoing military operations.
As a result, al-Qa`ida and especially                     for political reasons.                                 This makes it difficult for the police to
Taliban operatives find the only way                                                                             identify militants.
to avoid such strikes is to limit their                   When Taliban militants from the tribal
militant activities or shift to safer                     areas come to Karachi, they reportedly                 Conclusion
locations such as in Quetta and Karachi.                  have taken refuge in the city’s kacha                  Karachi is a vital city for Pakistan
According to local police officials in                    abadi (slums) such as Quid Abad, Sohrab                as well as for its allies. The city has a
Karachi, TTP militants are heading to                     Goth and Kiamaree, and in the hills of                 complex demography suffering from
the city to seek shelter and rest, as well                Manghopir and Orangi town and other                    ethnic tension and sectarian clashes.
                                                          low-income areas. Taliban militants                    Both the MQM and jihadist groups have
                                                          such as Hasan Mahmood, a senior aide                   a large cache of arms and ammunition in
“Karachi’s police estimate                                in the TTP, was reportedly arrested in                 Karachi. 27 It is home to various militant
that there are more than                                  Karachi. 24 Karachi police have arrested
                                                          many militants associated with the TTP,
                                                                                                                 and sectarian groups, and violence
                                                                                                                 between them could easily flare.
5,000 armed militants from                                including one militant identified as the               Approximately 70% of supplies for
various jihadist groups                                   TTP’s Karachi chief, Bahadar Khan
                                                          (known as Sadiq), from the crowded
                                                                                                                 U.S. and NATO forces in neighboring
                                                                                                                 Afghanistan depend on this port city. 28
located in the city.”                                     Sohrab Goth area of the city. 25 Hundreds
                                                          of thousands of displaced Pakistanis                   Despite these important concerns, the
                                                          and Afghan refugees are based in these                 Taliban are not close to overtaking the
                                                          slums.                                                 city. Karachi has a powerful and liberal
as funding. One Taliban source told                                                                              civil society and progressive political
reporters last year that Karachi is one                   An increase in instability in Karachi                  parties. It is a modern, Westernized
of their main destinations for rest and                   could put supplies to Afghanistan at                   city with a large education base that
to receive medical treatment. According                   risk. The major slums are located on the               should repulse trends of Talibanization.
to the source, every month a group of                     outskirts of Karachi on the main eastern               Nevertheless, if left unchecked, the
20-25 militants arrive in Karachi where                   and western entry points into the city.                growing influence of the Taliban in
they rest for a month while a fresh group                 Sohrab Goth, for example, is next to the               Karachi could spark violent clashes
of militants replaces them in the region                  super highway that is used for U.S. and                and eventual destabilization, which
to fight. 22                                              NATO supply convoys that travel from                   would have powerful ramifications for
                                                          Karachi to the Torkham border crossing                 Pakistan.
Taliban fighters and other militant                       into Afghanistan. In the past two years,
groups have long considered Karachi a                     these supplies have been occasionally                  Imtiaz Ali is a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow
safe location because it is unlikely the                  disrupted in Karachi, allegedly by                     at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington
city would ever face a major military                     members of the TTP and other militant                  D.C. where he is pursuing research on the
operation or drone attacks. Such a                        groups; insurgents have threatened                     Pakistani Taliban and its connection with the
development could cause huge political                    supply drivers against carrying fuel                   Afghan Taliban and other terrorist networks.
and economic fallout and the ultimate                     supplies to U.S. and NATO forces in                    Mr. Ali has worked for the Washington Post,
destabilization of Pakistan.                              Afghanistan. 26 These disruptions, along               BBC, London’s Telegraph and Pakistan’s
                                                          with ethnic violence between Sindhi                    premier English dailies The News and Dawn.
Karachi’s    municipal    government,                     and Muhajir, and between Pashtun and                   He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at the John
which is run by the Muttahida Qaumi                                                                              S. Knight Journalism Fellowship Program at
Movement (MQM), has warned about                          23 Naween A. Mangi and Farhan Sharif, “Taliban Hole    Stanford University during 2006-07, a Yale
the possibility of the Taliban taking                     Up in Karachi as Pakistan Weeds Out Swat Valley,”      World fellow 2008 at Yale University. Mr. Ali
control of Karachi. There has been an                     Bloomberg, June 19, 2009.                              is also a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy
alarming increase in bank robberies                       24 Samir Quraishe, “CID Report Reveals Taliban Pres-   and Understanding (ISPU) in Michigan.
and kidnapping-for-ransom, both of                        ence in Karachi,” Daily Times, February 28, 2009.
which are considered major revenue                        25 “Three More TTP Militants Arrested,” Daily Times,
                                                                                                                 27 A large amount of arms and ammunition is available
                                                          November 2, 2009.
                                                                                                                 in Karachi because of the city’s large size, and its role in
22 “Fear of Taliban Influx Looms in Karachi,” Dawn, May   26 “Taliban Warn Truckers to Stop Supplying Fuel to
                                                                                                                 ethnic and sectarian violence during past decades.
17, 2009; Ashraf Khan and Nahal Toosi, “Taliban Find-     NATO Forces in Afghanistan,” Asian News Internation-
                                                                                                                 28 Imtiaz Gul, “US-NATO in the Eye of Taliban Storm,”
ing Safety in Karachi,” Associated Press, May 17, 2009.   al, June 21, 2008.
                                                                                                                 Weekly Pulse [Islamabad], December 18, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                         jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1



Uighur Dissent and                                             long regarded popular expressions of                         in Xinjiang is estimated to range
                                                               social and political dissent and the                         between 8-10 million, representing
Militancy in China’s                                           vocalization of grievances by Uighurs                        roughly half of Xinjiang’s total
Xinjiang Province                                              as a threat to domestic stability. China                     population of approximately 21 million. 6
                                                               also perceives the history of Uighur                         Many observers often mistakenly
By Chris Zambelis                                              separatist sentiments and activities,                        lump the Uighurs in Xinjiang together
                                                               to include two short-lived periods of                        with other Chinese Muslims such as
in july 2009, communal rioting unsettled                       independence in the 20th century 4                           the Hui Muslims 7 —a Chinese Muslim
the provincial capital Urumqi in                               and incidences of terrorist violence                         group constituting the largest Muslim
China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region                             and persistent political activism, as                        community in China—or smaller ethnic
(XAR). The rioting, between Uighurs—a                          a threat to its territorial sovereignty.                     Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, or Tajik
largely Sunni Muslim and ethnic                                Frequently downplaying the veracity                          Muslim    communities,    exaggerating
Turkic     minority   group—and      Han                       of Uighur grievances, China instead
Chinese, highlighted the contentious                           equates Uighur aspirations with those                        “The 9/11 attacks, in
position of ethnic Uighurs in China                            promulgated by radical Islamists. China
and the underlying tensions between                            links Uighur militants to al-Qa`ida and
                                                                                                                            essence, provided Beijing
Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang                            the Taliban and the specter of radical                       with an opportunity to
in particular. The worst spate of ethno-                       Islam in Central and South Asia.
sectarian strife in China in decades was                       Public statements by al-Qa`ida that
                                                                                                                            frame its campaign against
sparked by a confrontation between                             called attention to the Uighur question                      Uighur separatism and
Uighur migrant workers and Han                                 following the July 2009 riots raised
Chinese at a toy factory in Guangdong                          another set of questions regarding al-
                                                                                                                            other forms of activism—
Province in southeastern China that left                       Qa`ida’s possible intentions toward                          both peaceful and violent—
two Uighurs dead. Subsequent public                            China.
demonstrations by Uighurs in Xinjiang
                                                                                                                            in the context of the U.S.
protesting the government’s handling                           While there is evidence of a fringe                          war against al-Qa`ida.”
of the incident spiraled into violence. 1                      extremist current within the larger
Approximately 192 people were killed—                          Uighur nationalist movement that frames
two-thirds of whom were Han—and                                Uighur aspirations in a radical Islamist
thousands more injured on both sides                           context and is involved in transnational                     their actual numbers in the process. The
in the ensuing chaos that captured                             radical Islamist movements, the Uighur                       distinction between Uighurs and Hui
international attention. 2                                     question never figured prominently in al-                    Muslims is significant in the context
                                                               Qa`ida discourse prior to the July 2009                      of Chinese ethnic politics. Although
Xinjiang’s Uighurs consider themselves                         violence. This article will examine some                     the Hui are regarded as essentially
the targets of a systematic campaign                           of the key political and cultural aspects                    Chinese culturally, the Uighurs, in
of state discrimination and repression                         of the Uighur question in China, shed                        spite of their status as an officially
aimed at destroying Uighur identity                            light on the regional and global nature                      recognized minority, are largely viewed
and culture and undermining Uighur                             and implications of Uighur activism                          as foreigners. Ethnic Uighur minorities
rights in Xinjiang. Uighur nationalists                        and simmering ethno-sectarian unrest                         are also found in the neighboring
refer to Xinjiang as East Turkistan                            in Xinjiang, and highlight some of the                       Central Asian republics 8 and Uighurs
or Uighuristan, and it is a region they                        reasons why the Uighurs are attracting                       likewise share close linguistic, cultural,
consider their ancestral homeland.                             increased attention among radical                            and religious ties with the other Turkic
For Uighurs, Beijing’s decision to raze                        Islamist groups such as al-Qa`ida.                           Muslim peoples of Central Asia. While
the Old City in Kashgar, the Uighur                                                                                         the Uighurs are exempt from China’s
cultural capital and a key stop on the                         Demographics and Geography                                   one-child policy due to their official
Silk Route, and to build new structures                        Understanding the demography and
in its place is emblematic of China’s                          geography of Xinjiang is central to                          effort to diminish their perceived presence or influence
hostility toward them. 3 China has                             comprehending the geopolitics of the                         in Chinese society.
                                                               Uighur question. Demographic data                            6 Matthew Teague, “The Other Tibet,” National Geo-
1 Andrew Jacobs, “At a Factory, the Spark for China’s          on the number of Uighurs in China                            graphic, December 2009; Joe Havely, “Q & A: China’s
Violence,” New York Times, July 15, 2009.                      and other parts of the region are often                      Restive Uighurs,” al-Jazira, July 9, 2009.
2 Given the generally favorable opinion of China in the        politicized. 5 The total Uighur population                   7 For more background on the history of China’s Hui
Middle East and greater Islamic world, China was sen-                                                                       Muslims, see Matthew Dillon, China’s Muslim Hui Com-
sitive to international Muslim public opinion during the       4 Two separate albeit short-lived independent Uighur-        munity: Migration, Settlement and Sects (Richmond, VA:
crisis. For more details about the effect of the violence in   led “East Turkistan Republics” existed between 1933-         Curzon Press, 1999).
Xinjiang on Muslim perceptions of China, see Chris Zam-        1934 and 1944-1949.                                          8 With a community of approximately 300,000, Ka-
belis, “Xinjiang Crackdown and Changing Perceptions of         5 Uighur or international Muslim activists concerned         zakhstan is home to the largest Uighur population
China in the Islamic World?” China Brief 9:16 (2009).          with the plight of Uighurs may have an interest in inflat-   outside of China. Kyrgyzstan is home to an estimated
3 Michael Wines, “To Protect an Ancient City, China            ing the actual numbers of Uighurs in China. Similarly,       60,000 Uighurs, and approximately 6,000 Uighurs re-
Moves to Raze It,” New York Times, May 27, 2009. China         fearing the specter of emboldening Uighur secessionist       side in Tajikistan. Smaller Uighur communities are also
justified the action on the ancient city’s vulnerability to    or identity activism, China may have an interest in down-    found in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Paki-
earthquakes.                                                   playing the number of Uighurs in Xinjiang in a possible      stan, and Turkey.

                                                               16
                                                                                                                                          jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


minority status, China’s aggressive                           Congress (WUC) led by Rebia Kadeer, a                          radical Islamist movements outside
efforts to encourage the migration of                         native of Xinjiang living in self-exile in                     of China, many observers attribute
Han Chinese to Xinjiang under the                             the United States. 13 Beijing is concerned                     acts of Uighur militancy to nationalist
auspices of its “Go West” campaign to                         that foreign powers such as the United                         resistance or civil unrest. 19 Uighurs have
offset the Uighur population reflects                         States will use the Uighur issue as a                          traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan
the true nature of Beijing’s concerns                         political lever over China. 14 Beijing’s                       and joined the Taliban and other radical
about the demographic composition of                          opposition to the WUC is such that it                          Islamist militant groups operating in
the province. 9                                               accused the group of masterminding                             Central and South Asia in the 1990s. 20
                                                              the July 2009 violence. 15 Despite a                           Yet, many Uighur nationalists fled the
Representing     its    largest   political                   lack of evidence, China considers the                          province for Afghanistan (as well as
region, China’s Xinjiang Province is                          WUC to be a terrorist organization, an                         Pakistan and other countries) to evade
located in the northwestern part of                           accusation likely meant to tarnish the                         Chinese authorities; others may have
the country and shares frontiers with                         group’s reputation globally.                                   intended to travel westward to gain
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,                                                                                          political asylum. 21 Overall, the radical
Mongolia, Russia, India, Pakistan, and                        Since the 1990s, Beijing has implicated                        Islamist strain of Uighur militancy
Afghanistan. China’s concerns about                           a number of Uighur organizations                               constitutes a fringe among Uighur
instability in Xinjiang stemming from                         in terrorism, including bombings,                              militants, not the dominant trend
Uighur nationalism are compounded                             arson attacks, assassinations, and                             claimed by Beijing.
due to the region’s vital strategic                           abductions in Xinjiang and other parts
significance: Xinjiang is rich in                             of China. 16 The ideological impetus for                       China’s accusations regarding the East
natural resources, boasting the highest                       Uighur militancy, however, is a point                          Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), 22
concentrations of natural gas and oil                         of contention. China often ascribes all                        an obscure Uighur organization linked
reserves in China, 10 as well as extensive                    manifestations of Uighur militancy                             to violence and terrorism, provide
coal, mineral, and water resources.                           to violent Islamism. The 9/11 attacks,                         insight into its approach to the larger
Pipelines originating in neighboring                          in essence, provided Beijing with an                           Uighur question. Beijing accuses the
Central Asian republics also traverse                         opportunity to frame its campaign                              ETIM of executing more than 200
Xinjiang transporting natural gas to                          against Uighur separatism and other                            terrorist attacks over the years. 23
Chinese consumers. Since Xinjiang                             forms of activism—both peaceful and                            Beijing also accuses the ETIM of having
shares a border with Afghanistan and                          violent—in the context of the U.S. war                         received financial and material support
Pakistan, Beijing worries about the                           against al-Qa`ida. 17 This approach                            from al-Qa`ida and the Taliban 24 and
spread of al-Qa`ida- and Taliban-style                        afforded China a greater license to crack                      of maintaining links with the Islamic
influence in the province, especially                         down on all forms of Uighur dissent.                           Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), 25 an
amid the war in Afghanistan and                                                                                              al-Qa`ida-linked group with a presence
mounting instability in Pakistan. Other                       In reality, Uighur militancy does not                          in Afghanistan, Pakistan and across
threats, such as opium and heroin                             comprise a monolith—let alone a radical                        Central Asia. 26 ETIM is also implicated
trafficking, already a serious problem                        Islamist monolith—characterized by                             in plots against Chinese interests and
in the region, are also a major concern                       Beijing. 18 While acknowledging evidence                       other targets outside of China, such as
for Beijing. 11                                               of individual Uighur participation in                          an alleged plot to attack embassies—

Political Activism and Militancy                                                                                             19 Sean R. Roberts, Ph.D., testimony before the U.S.
Uighur rights advocates in the diaspora                       13 For more details about the World Uighur Congress            House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee
who engage in peaceful political                              (WUC) and its numerous affiliates, see the official web-       on International Organizations, Human Rights, and
opposition to what they often describe                        site of the WUC at www.uyghurcongress.org.                     Oversight, June 16, 2009. Also see Dru Gladney, Ph.D.,
as the “Chinese occupation of East                            14 “‘East Turkistan’ Forces Seriously Disrupt Xinjiang’s       testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign
Turkistan”       are    politically savvy,                    Development Progress: White Paper,” Xinhua News                Affairs, Subcommittee on International Organizations,
organized, and can often count on allies in                   Agency, September 21, 2009. Also see “White Paper on           Human Rights, and Oversight, June 16, 2009.
diplomatic, human rights, and religious                       Development and Progress in Xinjiang,” Information Of-         20 Ahmed Rashid, Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Cen-
circles. 12 One such group, run by exiled                     fice of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China,   tral Asia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002),
Uighur activists, is the World Uighur                         September 21, 2009.                                            p. 204; Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven, CT: Yale
                                                              15 “Anti-Terror Expert: World Uyghur Congress behind           University Press, 2001), p. 128.
9 Henryk Szadziewski, “How the West was Won: Chi-             Xinjiang Violence,” Xinhua News Agency, July 7, 2009.          21 Roberts, June 16, 2009.
na’s Expansion into Central Asia,” Caucasian Review of        16 James Millward, “Violent Separatism in Xinjiang: A          22 The East Turkistan Islamic Movement is also often
International Affairs 3:2 (2009): pp. 210-218.                Critical Assessment,” East-West Center, Policy Studies         referred to as the East Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP).
10 “Xinjiang’s Oil and Gas Equivalent Ranks First in          6, 2004.                                                       23 Millward.
China,” People’s Daily Online, July 11, 2008.                 17 Sean Roberts, “Ethnic Clashes in China: Uighurs vs.         24 “Uighur Group ‘Linked to al-Qaeda,’” al-Jazira, March
11 Lei Xiaoxun and Zhu Zhe, “Xinjiang Targets Drug            Han Chinese,” Washington Post, July 8, 2009. Also see          9, 2007.
Trafficking,” China Daily, March 10, 2009.                    Yitzhak Shichor, “Fact and Fiction: A Chinese Documen-         25 The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, in an effort to
12 Much to China’s chagrin, the Dalai Lama also sup-          tary on Eastern Turkestan Terrorism,” China and Eurasia        showcase its wider, regional focus, now refers to itself as
ports Uighur rights and maintains ties to the WUC, often      Forum Quarterly 4:2 (2006): pp. 89-108.                        the Islamic Movement of Turkistan (IMT).
likening the Uighur question to the situation in Tibet. See   18 Elizabeth Van Wie Davis, “Uyghur Muslim Ethnic              26 Bahukutumbi Raman, “Strange Bedfellows: China’s
Laura MacInnis, “Uighur Unrest Shows China’s Failures         Separatism in Xinjiang, China,” Asia-Pacific Center for        Problems in Xinjiang are Forcing it to Reach out to India.
– Dalai Lama,” Reuters, August 6, 2009.                       Security Studies, 2008.                                        But Does India Care?” Foreign Policy, August 31, 2009.


                                                              17
                                                                                                                                     jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


including the U.S. Embassy 27 —and                            separatist agenda, many observers argue                  using the tactics that have never been
other targets in the Kyrgyz capital                           that China exaggerates the perceived                     employed.” 39 What sets TIP apart from
Bishkek, 28 as well as another plot to                        threat of ETIM by conflating all acts of                 other Uighur militant groups is its
abduct Chinese diplomats in Pakistan                          violence that may occur spontaneously                    radical Islamist discourse reminiscent of
in 2006. 29 The United States designated                      or by the hands of other Uighur groups                   al-Qa`ida-inspired extremists. 40 Little
the ETIM a terrorist organization in                          to ETIM to justify further repression of                 is known about the TIP. Despite a lack
2002, a controversial move in light of                        Uighur political dissent in Xinjiang. 34                 of concrete evidence, TIP is sometimes
reports that the U.S. decision was based                      Since Mahsum’s death in 2003, the                        referred to as an affiliate or offshoot of
solely on Chinese information. 30 The                         very existence of ETIM has also come                     ETIM or even ETIM operating under a
group’s late leader, Hasan Mahsum,                            into question due to the lack of credible                different label, while others believe that
who was killed by Pakistani forces at                         information about the group that                         it is tied to other Central Asia-based
                                                              does not originate from Beijing. 35 The                  militants who are themselves tied to
                                                              controversy surrounding the Uighurs                      al-Qa`ida, including the IMU. Uighur
“The July 2009 violence                                       held at Guantanamo Bay who China                         activists have charged that Beijing may
in Xinjiang, however,                                         accuses of membership in ETIM also                       be behind the creation of the TIP in an
                                                              raises questions about China’s previous                  effort to justify further crackdowns
prompted al-Qa`ida to                                         claims about the group. 36 The men,                      against Uighur activists in Xinjiang. 41
issue its first direct threat                                 who resided in a camp in Afghanistan
                                                              for Uighur nationalists who had fled                     Al-Qa`ida Singles Out China
against China.”                                               Xinjiang, were detained by U.S. forces as                A key feature of al-Qa`ida’s platform
                                                              enemy combatants. In spite of Chinese                    is its determination to speak on behalf
                                                              protests, the men were exonerated by                     of besieged Muslims across the globe.
                                                              U.S. authorities, with a number of them                  Compared to al-Qa`ida’s emphasis on
a suspected al-Qa`ida hideout in South                        subsequently resettled in Albania,                       the suffering of the Palestinians and
Waziristan in 2003, 31 denied that ETIM                       Bermuda, and Palau due to U.S. fears                     the overall negative impact on Muslims
maintained any links to al-Qa`ida or                          that they would be mistreated in China.                  of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle
the Taliban and said that the group had                       Seven Uighurs remain in custody at                       East, the plight of Uighurs in China
no intention of targeting the United                          Guantanamo Bay. 37                                       has received only scant attention over
States. 32 Details surrounding Mahsum’s
presence in Pakistan are unclear. In                          Separate from the ETIM, in July 2008
spite of his denials of ETIM links to al-                     China was threatened by another obscure                  “It is also unclear if al-
Qa`ida or the Taliban, it is conceivable                      Uighur militant group, the Turkistan                     Qa`ida has the resources
that Mahsum may have eventually                               Islamic Party (TIP). The group released
joined ranks with militants.                                  a videotaped statement titled “Our                       required, namely capable
                                                              Blessed Jihad in Yunnan” in the Uighur                   networks operating on
The veracity of China’s claims tying                          language by “Commander Seyfullah.”
ETIM to al-Qa`ida has come under                              The statement claimed responsibility for                 Chinese soil, to strike
scrutiny.    Although    China   claims                       a series of terrorist attacks, including                 inside China.”
the ETIM has extensive reach and                              a string of bus bombings in Xinjiang,
capabilities, little is actually known                        the southern province of Yunnan,
about the group. Moreover, ETIM may                           Shanghai, and elsewhere. 38 The video
be comprised of Uighur nationalists                           also contained a threat to stage attacks                 the years. The July 2009 violence in
who fled Xinjiang for Afghanistan in                          during the summer 2008 Olympics in                       Xinjiang, however, prompted al-Qa`ida
the 1990s to plot against China and not,                      Beijing: “The Turkistan Islamic Party                    to issue its first direct threat against
as Beijing asserts, to join forces with                       warns China one more time…Our aim                        China.    Al-Qa`ida’s     Algerian-based
al-Qa`ida. 33 While acknowledging its                         is to target the most critical points                    North African affiliate, al-Qa`ida in the
                                                              related to the Olympics. We will try to                  Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), reportedly
27 Philip P. Pan, “U.S. Warns of Plot by Group in W.          attack Chinese central cities severely                   announced their intent to exact revenge
China,” Washington Post, August 29, 2002.                                                                              against China and Chinese interests,
28 Millward.                                                  34 In addition to ETIM, China implicates a host of ob-   including the approximately 50,000
29 “Editorial: Uighur Terrorist in Pakistan,” Daily Times,    scure Uighur nationalist groups in violence, including
June 27, 2006.                                                the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO),       39 Charles.
30 Shaun Tandon, “US Lawmakers Seek Review of Ui-             United Revolutionary Front of East Turkistan (URFET),    40 One interesting aspect of TIP is its presence on the
ghur ‘Terror’ Label,” Agence France-Presse, June 16,          and the Uighur Liberation Organization (ULO).            internet, namely its release of Arabic-language publi-
2009.                                                         35 Roberts, June 16, 2009.                               cations typical of al-Qa`ida and its affiliates. For more
31 “Military Confirms Killing Chinese ‘Terrorist,’” Dawn,     36 Tandon.                                               details, see Murad Batal al-Shishani, “Journal of the
December 24, 2003.                                            37 “Guantanamo Uighurs Sent to Palau,” BBC, October      Turkistan Islamic Party Urges Jihad in China,” Terror-
32 Mahsum’s denial of links to al-Qa`ida or the Tali-         31, 2009.                                                ism Monitor 7:9 (2009). In a related point, since the July
ban is significant considering that allies or affiliates of   38 Tania Branigan, “China Plays Down Terror Link         2009 riots, the Uighur question tends to receive more at-
al-Qa`ida typically boast of their associations with the      as Bus Explodes,” Guardian, July 28, 2008; Deborah       tention on Arabic-language radical Islamist websites and
group. See Roberts, June 16, 2009.                            Charles, “Group Threatens Olympics Attack, Claims        chat room forums.
33 Ibid.                                                      Bombed Buses,” Reuters, July 26, 2008.                   41 Roberts, June 16, 2009.

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                                                                                                                         jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


Chinese living and working in Algeria,                     Chinese in particular following the July         Ninawa Province:
days after the riots in Urumqi. 42                         2009 riots may lead to further attacks
Additionally, in a videotaped statement                    against Chinese interests in the region.         Al-Qa`ida’s Remaining
that featured senior al-Qa`ida leader                      It is also unclear if al-Qa`ida has the          Stronghold
Abu Yahya al-Libi that appeared online                     resources required, namely capable
on October 7, 2009, Abu Yahya called                       networks operating on Chinese soil, to           By Andrea plebani
on Muslims to direct their attention to                    strike inside China. At the same time,
the plight of the Uighurs. Regarding                       al-Qa`ida’s decision to exploit the July         since the death of Abu Mus`ab al-
the violence in Xinjiang, Abu Yahya                        2009 riots demonstrates its ability to           Zarqawi in June 2006, al-Qa`ida in Iraq
declared:                                                  harness current events dominating                (AQI) has been seriously weakened as
                                                           the news cycle to further validate its           a terrorist and insurgent organization.
    This massacre is not being carried                     narrative as a vanguard of Islamic               The group was unable to achieve its main
    out by criminal Crusaders or evil                      resistance. In this case, al-Qa`ida saw          objective of creating a “genuine” Islamic
    Jews who have committed crimes                         an opportunity to speak in defense               state in the heart of the Muslim world.
    against our nation…Today, a                            of what it sees as a besieged Muslim             Nevertheless, AQI continues to retain
    new massacre is being carried                          minority suffering under an oppressive           sufficient support and capabilities to
    out by Buddhist nationalists and                       regime as most of the world—Muslims              prevent the complete normalization of
    communists against the Muslim                          and non-Muslims alike—stand by in                the Iraqi system, to wage a prolonged
    population in eastern Turkestan…                       silence.                                         low-intensity conflict (focused on several
    It is a duty for Muslims today                                                                          strategic provinces 1 ), and to implement
    to stand by their wounded and                          Conclusion                                       high-profile coordinated attacks such
    oppressed     brothers   in   East                     The nature and scope of the violence in          as the operations targeting Baghdad on
    Turkestan...and support them                           Urumqi in July 2009 and the increasing           August 19, October 25 and December
    with all they can. 43                                  international interest among Muslims             8, 2009. 2 While Baghdad continues to
                                                           and non-Muslims alike in the Uighur              remain AQI’s major operational center
Al-Qa`ida’s decision to single out                         question will impact the future of the           of gravity, its presence in the capital
China is noteworthy on a number of                         region. By all accounts, China will              is limited due to the strong pressure
levels. Given al-Qa`ida’s unshaken                         continue to treat the Uighur question            exerted by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)
focus on targeting the United States                       as a vital security matter. In doing so,         and U.S. forces. In this framework,
and U.S. interests abroad, it is unclear                   it will go to great lengths to root out all      several elements indicate that Ninawa
if the group is capable of or interested                   forms of dissent, peaceful or violent,           Province is the movement’s main
in expending resources to target China.                    under the guise of counterterrorism.             stronghold and financial hub. 3
In this regard, al-Qa`ida may not be                       Meanwhile, al-Qa`ida’s foray into the
interested in opening up another front                     politics of Xinjiang should remain               This article will show how the death
in its campaign that would entail taking                   cause for further observation. Yet it is         of Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi in June
on China directly; this would likely                       unlikely that the group will set their           2006 marked the gradual weakening
encourage the United States and China                      sights on China in the near future when          of AQI, identify the factors that have
to cooperate more closely in destroying                    there are far more pressing issues at            made Ninawa Province the group’s
the organization. Rather, al-Qa`ida                        hand, such as striking their primary             main remaining stronghold, and assess
may be content with providing moral                        targets: the U.S. homeland and U.S.              whether AQI has moved toward a more
support to others who may choose to                        interests abroad.                                traditional terrorism campaign and
strike China and Chinese interests in                                                                       away from the “mini-state” model.
other countries independently.                             Chris Zambelis is a researcher with Helios
                                                           Global, Inc., a risk management consultancy
AQIM,       for     instance,      claimed                 based in the Washington, D.C. area. He
responsibility for an attack on June 17,                   advises clients in the public, private, and
2009 against an Algerian paramilitary                      non-profit sectors on a range of social,         1 Some 79% of the attacks waged from July to September
police    convoy     escorting     Chinese                 political, security, and economic issues         2009 took place in four provinces: Baghdad, Ninawa,
construction workers; 19 paramilitary                      affecting the Middle East and other regions.     Diyala and Salah al-Din. See “Measuring Stability and
police and one Chinese worker were                         He is a regular contributor to a number of       Security in Iraq,” U.S. Department of Defense, report to
reportedly killed in the incident. 44 AQIM                 publications, where he writes on Middle          the U.S. Congress, September 2009.
has a history of targeting foreigners in                   East politics, political Islam, international    2 The August 19 bombings hit the Foreign and Finance
Algeria, including foreign workers, and                    security, and related issues. He has lived and   ministries and killed at least 100 people. On October 25,
the group’s apparent intent to target                      worked in the Middle East, East Europe and       attacks targeted the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad
                                                           the former Yugoslavia, and Latin America.        governorate headquarters, killing at least 150 people. The
42 Liam Stack, “China Warns Citizens in Algeria of Al      Mr. Zambelis is a graduate of New York           December 8 attacks targeted a courthouse, two colleges,
Qaeda Threat,” Christian Science Monitor, July 15, 2009.   University and holds an M.S. in Foreign          a mosque and a bank, killing at least 120 people. For de-
43 “China: Al-Qaeda Urges Holy War to Defend Mus-          Service from Georgetown University.              tails, see Steven Lee Myers and Marc Santora, “Election
lims,” Adnkronos International, October 7, 2009.                                                            Date Set in Iraq as Bombs Kill Scores,” New York Times,
44 Christian Lowe and Lamine Chikhi, “Insurgents Am-                                                        December 8, 2009.
bush Algerian Police Convoy, Kill 19,” Reuters, June 18,                                                    3 Eric Hamilton, “The Fight for Mosul,” Institute for the
2009.                                                                                                       Study of War, April 2008.


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                                                                                                                                        jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


The Post-Zarqawi Phase                                       In a few months, and in large part due                       and to count on a flow of fighters, funds
Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi’s death in June                        to the strengthening of the Awakening                        and materials that the local security
2006 dealt a serious blow to AQI. Since                      movements 9 and the new strategic                            forces have proved unable to halt.
its birth, AQI was organized around                          posture adopted by U.S. troops and ISF                       Moreover, the population involved in the
al-Zarqawi, who offered charismatic,                         units in the wake of the “surge,” the                        smuggling activities can benefit from the
albeit    controversial, 4  leadership.                      ISI’s power waned and the movement                           increased traffic and related money flow.
The group was primarily guided by                            lost much of its ground. Caught                              As stated by Matthew Levitt, smuggling
foreign fighters, with Iraqi militants                       between two fires that threatened to put                     is “a lucrative business, and the foreign
substantially underrepresented in the                        an end to its battle in the “land of the                     fighters pipeline in Syria is believed to
upper echelons of the organization. 5                        two rivers,” AQI gradually abandoned                         have benefitted the local populations on
After his assassination, the movement                        several of its traditional strongholds in                    both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border in
had to reorganize and overcome a crisis                      central-western Iraq and sought shelter
of legitimacy as it was increasingly                         in areas that remained supportive of its                     “Ninawa’s geographic
marginalized from its Sunni Arab                             cause. It also restructured its logistic
supporters in Iraq.                                          and financial networks, strengthened                         position has made it the
                                                             cooperation with the remnants of the                         perfect nexus between
To stem losses of local support, the new                     insurgency and crafted a new strategy
AQI leadership 6 tried to strengthen its                     favoring the continuation of its                             AQI’s needs and the
links to Iraqi society. In October 2006,                     struggle.                                                    traditional smuggling
AQI was involved in the creation of the
Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella                     Ninawa Province: AQi’s Main Stronghold                       routes controlled by tribes
organization of Iraqi insurgent groups                       Ninawa Province is characterized                             and communities living on
led by Abu `Umar al-Baghdadi. AQI’s                          by a series of intertwined elements
interest in creating the ISI can be seen                     that have made it the perfect base                           either side of the Iraq-Syria
as an attempt to limit the deepening                         for AQI’s revival. It is situated in an                      border.”
divisions that were weakening the                            ideal geographic position, it suffers
movement. Yet it did not move fast                           from a strong insurgency not courted
enough to prevent its near complete                          by Iraqi government reconciliation
marginalization from Iraqi society. A                        initiatives, and has a sociopolitical                        the form of jobs, increased cash flow into
growing number of Sunni Arab tribal                          fabric fragmented along ethno-sectarian                      the local economy, purchase of supplies,
elders—whose economic interests as                           lines that is deeply affected by mistrust                    staples, and rents.” 11 Smuggling routes
well as authority had become seriously                       toward the central government. Select                        are extremely significant for local
compromised by AQI 7 —began to view the                      local communities are ready to consider                      communities since they represent one
group as a more dangerous enemy than                         insurgent groups as the only actors                          of the main sources of income in areas
U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi government                      capable of restoring the old social order                    which—due to the instability of the
forces. As a result, a growing number                        to the area.                                                 recent years and the existing Arab-
of Sunni Arab tribal leaders began to                                                                                     Kurdish standoff—have been neglected
cooperate with the new Iraqi regime                          The Geopolitical Factor                                      by the central government and are
and U.S.-led forces. 8                                       Ninawa’s geographic position has made                        traditionally devoid of suitable and
                                                             it the perfect nexus between AQI’s needs                     attractive economic alternatives.
                                                             and the traditional smuggling routes
                                                             controlled by tribes and communities                         Smuggling routes are not the only
                                                             living on either side of the Iraq-Syria                      element that has made Ninawa relevant
                                                             border. The relations between these                          for AQI. The economic importance of
4 For an in-depth analysis of AQI’s status after al-         tribes and AQI were built on solid and                       Ninawa’s capital Mosul, for example,
Zarqawi’s death, see Brian Fishman, “After Zarqawi:          shared interests; these interests make                       is a major factor helping to transform
The Dilemmas and Future of Al Qaeda in Iraq,” Washing-       it less likely that the relationship will                    the province into AQI’s main logistical
ton Quarterly 29:4 (2006): pp. 19-32.                        backfire as it did with the Sunni Arab                       and support center. 12 Beginning with
5 Personal interview, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, secretary-         tribes in Anbar Province. As a result,                       the withdrawal of U.S. forces from
general of the al-Wasat Front and the former Iraqi na-       AQI has been able to rely on safe                            the area in 2004, the city became the
tional security adviser, Como, Italy, December 6, 2009.      channels, allowing it to take advantage                      most important financial hub for AQI,
6 AQI is now under the command of “Abu Hamza al-             of the supply lines offered by the                           capable of providing up to 80% of its
Muhajir,” who is presumably the Egyptian militant Abu        “facilitation networks” based in Syria, 10
Ayyub al-Masri.
7 Another important source of hatred against AQI was         9 On this issue, see John McCary, “The Anbar Awaken-         thew Levitt, “Foreign Fighters and Their Economic Im-
the movement’s disregard of traditions, as described in      ing: An Alliance of Incentives,” Washington Quarterly 32:1   pact: A Case Study of Syria and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI),”
David Kilcullen, “Field Notes on Iraq’s Tribal Revolt        (2009): pp. 43-59; Michael Eisenstadt, “Tribal Engage-       Perspectives on Terrorism 3:3 (2009); Ryan Mauro, “Has
Against Al-Qa`ida,” CTC Sentinel 1:11 (2008).                ment: Lessons Learned,” Military Review, September-          Damascus Stopped Supporting Terrorists?” Middle
8 For an in-depth analysis of the causes of AQI’s de-        October 2007; Kimberly Kagan, “Anbar Awakening:              East Quarterly 16:3 (2009); Safa A. Hussain, “Enough is
cline, see Brian Fishman, Dysfunction and Decline: Lessons   Displacing Al-Qaeda From Its Stronghold in Western           Enough,” www.bitterlemons.org, September 10, 2009.
Learned from Inside al-Qa’ida in Iraq (New York: Combat-     Iraq,” Institute for the Study of War, April 5, 2007.        11 Levitt, p. 18.
ing Terrorism Center, 2009).                                 10 For more information about these networks, see Mat-       12 “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq.”

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                                                                                                                                      jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


internal funds 13 at its height as a result                   This    tactical   cooperation     shows                   political influence in Ninawa, cemented
of a mafia-style network entrenched in                        that the dividing line between AQI                         by the victory of its list in the 2005
the city. 14 Despite several ISF military                     and former Ba`athists is thin and at                       elections, created resentment among
operations to destroy this network, it                        times overlaps. Moreover, a growing                        Sunni Arabs. 21 This resentment has not
continues to provide the movement with                        ideological rapprochement between the                      been extinguished by the pro-Sunni al-
a significant financial stream.                               two movements appears underway, as                         Hadbaa coalition’s victory in the 2009
                                                              demonstrated by the statement released                     provincial elections. 22 This has fueled
Tactical Cooperation with Local Insurgent                     on December 2, 2009 by Ba`athist leader                    a strong insurgency in Ninawa that the
Movements                                                     Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, 18 who invited the                  Iraqi government has been unable to
Insurgent groups, especially former                           Iraqi resistance and the mujahidin to                      tackle.
members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba`ath                            lay down the basis for the creation of a
Party, are abundant in Ninawa                                 new Iraqi state founded on a legislative                   In this context, AQI has been able to
Province. Their presence has helped                           system that considers the Qur’an as its                    exploit the anger of the Sunni Arab
AQI regroup in the region. Learning                           first and main legal source. 19                            community and the existing local
from its losses in Anbar Province, AQI                                                                                   divisions. AQI has adopted a strategy
did not try to impose its will on the other                   A Fragmented Sociopolitical Fabric                         that targets Ninawa’s minorities to
insurgent groups active in the area, but                      Ninawa     Province’s        ethno-religious               prevent the stabilization of the area, to
instead forged strong tactical linkages                       mosaic represents another valuable asset                   display the Iraqi government’s inability
to keep the region under the grips of                         for AQI’s revival. While historically                      to provide security, and to perpetuate
the insurgency. 15 In this framework,                         dominated by a strong Sunni Arab
particularly relevant is the cooperation                      majority, which traditionally held                         “This tactical cooperation
between AQI and Ba`athist groups.                             the levers of power, Ninawa is the
Several high-level Iraqi officials, 16 as                     seat of important Kurdish, Christian,                      shows that the dividing line
well as U.S. General Ray Odierno, deem                        Shabak and Yazidi communities that                         between AQI and former
this relationship as responsible for                          claim ancient and strong linkages to
the high-profile attacks targeting the                        the territory. Under Saddam’s regime,                      Ba`athists is thin and at
country in the last year. According to                        the region witnessed the effects of a                      times overlaps.”
General Odierno,                                              prolonged     Arabization          campaign—
                                                              aimed at limiting the relevance of the
    the size of al-Qaida has been                             Kurdish community and strengthening
    reduced significantly, they can                           Sunni Arab identity in the area—that                       a climate of fear that sustains the
    no longer conduct the attacks                             altered the original ethno-religious                       movement directly (through its mafia-
    independently, they can only do                           map, fueling the resentment of hundreds                    style network) and indirectly (by
    it with the help of others. Baathist                      of families obliged to abandon their                       strengthening the perception that it still
    elements are no longer capable of                         ancestral homes.                                           retains powerful military capabilities).
    operating independently as well,
    so the successes we’ve had have                           The fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003                        This strategy also underlines a deep
    forced them to work together. 17                          and the transfer of control from U.S.                      understanding of the local ethno-
                                                              to Kurdish security forces in 2004                         sectarian balance: by attacking these
                                                              in Ninawa pushed many of the Sunni                         communities, AQI can continue its
                                                              Arab families, which settled in the                        struggle without waging a bloody
13 Personal interview, Safa A. Hussain, former brigadier      area in the wake of the government-                        campaign against local institutions
general in the Iraqi Air Force and Iraqi national security    led Arabization process, to flee their                     and security forces (which maintain
adviser, December 2009.                                       homes. This added hatred to hatred                         strong linkages with the local Sunni
14 AQI fundraising activities in Ninawa (mainly kid-          toward the new Iraqi government,                           community and have been accused of
napping, racketeering, extortion as well as oil theft and     which was perceived hostile to the                         collaborating with insurgents) and
smuggling) rely on a network of agents located on the ter-    Sunni Arabs and allied with its worst                      peshmerga (or Kurdish militias whose
ritory and are based on an alliance of interests with local   enemies: the United States, Iran and the                   presence in the area AQI recognizes as
criminal gangs. For more details, see Michael Knights,        Kurdish leadership. 20 Furthermore, the                    instrumental in fomenting Sunni Arab
“Al-Qa`ida in Iraq: Lessons from the Mosul Security Op-       growing Kurdish military, economic and                     anger and distrust).
eration,” CTC Sentinel 1:7 (2008); Lennox Samuels, “Al
Qaeda Nostra,” Newsweek, May 21, 2008; Phil Williams,         18 Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri was Saddam Hussein’s former
“Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents: Organized Crime in      deputy chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command         21 The 2005 elections were boycotted by the Sunni Arab
Iraq,” Strategic Studies Institute, June 2009.                Council and is the leader of one of the two wings of the   community.
15 Knights.                                                   “new” Iraqi Ba`ath Party.                                  22 The provincial elections held on January 31, 2009
16 Sammy Ketz, “Iraq Security Adviser Warns of Qaeda          19 “A statement from the leader believer Mujahid Izzat     marked the victory of the al-Hadbaa National List which,
Threat Ahead of Poll,” Agence France-Presse, December         Ibrahim Al Duri on the occasion of the formation of the    appealing to Arab identity in the province, received
29, 2009; Khalid al-Ansary, “Iraq’s Maliki Blasts Foreign     Jihad, Liberation and National Salvation Front,” posted    48.4% of the votes, defeating the Kurdish coalition that
Support for Bombings,” Reuters, December 9, 2009.             on al-Basrah.net, November 2, 2009.                        has headed the region since 2005. For a deeper analysis
17 Jim Garamone, “Commanders: Iraq Progress Will              20 “On Vulnerable Ground: Violence Against Minority        of the political situation in the province, see “Iraq’s New
Continue in U.S. Drawdown Year,” U.S. Department of           Communities in Nineveh Province’s Disputed Territo-        Battlefront: The Struggle over Ninewa,” International
Defense, January 1, 2010.                                     ries,” Human Rights Watch, November 10, 2009.              Crisis Group, September 28, 2009.


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                                                                                                                                        jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


Toward A Major Strategic Shift?                                                                                            History of Terrorist Violence in France
AQI has exploited local conditions to
                                                              The French Approach to                                       From the mid-1970s, France and other
transform Ninawa into one of its main                         Counterterrorism                                             European countries faced threats from
strongholds. Yet this achievement                                                                                          separatist or left-wing terrorists. In
could represent just one element of a                         By Charles Rault                                             1985, for example, General René Audran,
broader strategic shift by AQI aimed at                                                                                    the chief of arms sales for the French
reversing the debacle it suffered during                      in the last five years, a number of                          Ministry of Defense, was assassinated
the last three years. In this regard, the                     terrorist attacks have occurred in                           by the urban guerrilla group Action
creation of a solid base in the province                      Western Europe. In March 2004,                               Directe. 2 In 1986, the same group was
and the completion of the Iraqification                       Islamist terrorists attacked Madrid’s                        blamed for the murder of Georges Besse,
process of the group that started after                       commuter train system, killing 191                           the director of the French automotive
al-Zarqawi’s death has been coupled                           people. On July 7, 2005, Islamist                            company Renault. 3
with a series of initiatives aimed at                         terrorists struck London’s public
adapting the movement’s strategy                              transportation system, killing more                          From 1982 to 1987, terrorist violence
to local conditions and to exploit its                        than 50 people. A number of other                            in France peaked after state-sponsored
traditional strengths.                                        plots in Western Europe have been                            terrorist groups from the Middle East
                                                              disrupted. Since the 9/11 attacks on the                     targeted French interests in the context
The recent terrorist attacks that hit                         United States, France has managed to                         of East-West tensions generated by
Baghdad indicate that AQI is increasing                       escape a terrorist attack. Nevertheless,                     the Cold War. 4 Groups such as the
high-profile coordinated attacks against                      the threat to France remains high, and                       Palestinian Abu Nidal Organization
Iraqi political targets and institutions,                     French authorities believe that it is only                   (ANO) and Lebanese Hizb Allah, in
in addition to continuing its campaign                        a matter of time before their country is                     addition to Carlos “The Jackal,” were
aimed at fostering sectarian divisions.                       targeted successfully, likely by militants                   the most active. In 1988, the ANO
The decision to focus on these types of                       associated with al-Qa`ida in the Islamic                     executed four French citizens on a
attacks—widely recognized as an AQI                           Maghreb (AQIM). 1                                            Greek tourist boat, the City of Poros.
trademark—could indicate a shift from                                                                                      Hizb Allah conducted a campaign of
the “ISI paradigm” of transforming                            There are a number of reasons why                            13 terrorist attacks beginning in 1985
areas under jihadist control into states                      France has not suffered a terrorist                          that culminated with an attack against
or mini-states administrated according                        attack in more than a decade. One reason                     the store “Tati” at Rue de Rennes in
to Shari`a. 23 By concentrating on high-                      is due to the successes of the country’s                     Paris in 1986, killing seven people
profile attacks, AQI could be moving                          experienced      and     well-established                    and wounding 66. 5 Known for having
toward a more traditional terrorism                           counterterrorism apparatus. France’s                         planned the attack on the headquarters
campaign, aimed at reasserting AQI’s                          security apparatus was strengthened                          of the Organization of the Petroleum
role in the country and limiting the huge                     in the last two decades in response to                       Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna
losses experienced by the movement                            multiple terrorist attacks that struck                       in 1975, Venezuelan terrorist Carlos
since 2006.                                                   the country in the 1990s—effectively                         “The Jackal” first joined the Palestinian
                                                              foreshadowing      today’s    threat     of                  cause as a member of the leftist Popular
Andrea Plebani is a Ph.D. candidate at                        Islamist terrorism. It is useful to review                   Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of                    France’s domestic counterterrorism                           (PFLP) before operating undercover for
Milan and Program Manager of the Italian                      efforts to better understand how other                       East Germany’s Stasi and Romania’s
think-tank Landau Network-Centro Volta                        governments have met this growing                            Securitate. 6 In 1982, Carlos was
(LNCV). Mr. Plebani would like to thank                       challenge. This article will provide
Professor Riccardo Redaelli and all the                       background on previous terrorist attacks                     2 Frederick Painton, William Dowell and William
Iraqi and American friends of the LNCV                        targeting France, the government’s                           McWhirter, “Terrorism New Generation of Violence,”
Iraq Group who contributed to the ideas in                    overall view toward counterterrorism,                        Time Magazine, February 11, 1985.
this analysis.                                                and finally the tactics it uses to combat                    3 Action Directe denied any responsibility. In Domin-
                                                              the ongoing terrorism threat.                                ique Lorentz’s and David Carr-Brown’s La République
                                                                                                                           atomique: France-Iran le pacte nucléaire film documentary,
                                                                                                                           the authors suggest that Besse might have been killed by
                                                                                                                           Iranian operatives due to his previous involvement in the
                                                                                                                           nuclear-related disagreements between France and Iran.
                                                              1 According to French former counterterrorism judge          4 In this context, terrorist groups also targeted U.S. and
                                                              Jean-Louis Bruguière, the current threat level is four,      Jewish interests.
                                                              with five the highest. See “L’ancien juge Jean-Louis Bru-    5 There were a number of motives behind Hizb Allah’s
23 This strategy seems to be based on Abu Bakr Naji,          guière évalue trente ans de terrorisme,” La Voix du Nord,    targeting of French interests. The group demanded the
an important jihadist ideologue who wrote Idarat al-          November 7, 2009. As for the claim that the greatest ter-    release of Lebanese militant Georges Ibrahim Abdal-
Tawahhush (Management of Savagery). In his book, Naji         rorist threat to France is likely from AQIM militants, see   lah, which France refused to do. Moreover, France was
indicates a plan to re-establish the caliphate and, accord-   personal interview, former DGSE intelligence officer,        targeted due to its alleged support for the Christian Ma-
ing to his program, under the “management of savagery”        Paris, November 6, 2009. AQIM was formerly known             ronites. Iran was also not pleased with French support to
stage, the mujahidin should transform the areas under         as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).       Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
their control into states or semi-states which they should    French sources argue that the GSPC’s connection to al-       6 John Follain, Jackal: The Complete Story of the Legendary
administrate according to Shari`a law.                        Qa`ida is nominal, not operational.                          Terrorist, Carlos the Jackal (New York: Arcade Publish-


                                                              22
                                                                                                                                        jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


involved in supplying weapons in the                           during attacks against metro stations in                     Today, France remains a priority
failed rocket attack against the French                        Paris. 12                                                    target for al-Qa`ida and its affiliates. 16
nuclear power station Superphénix. 7 In                                                                                     In December 2008, for example, the
1983, Carlos’ group killed four people                         Despite      these    attacks,   French                      counterterrorist section of the French
in a bombing against two TGV high-                             intelligence moved quickly to disrupt                        criminal investigation department and
speed trains in France. 8 Reportedly a                         the GIA networks, and this caused the                        the domestic intelligence organization,
convert to Islam, Carlos once preceded                         terrorist group to increasingly move                         the Central Directorate of Interior
Usama bin Ladin as the most dangerous                          its logistical, funding and propaganda                       Intelligence (DCRI), detained several
global terrorist. 9 In 1994, Carlos was                        activities to other European countries,                      people for questioning who had
apprehended by French authorities,                             especially to the United Kingdom. Over                       suspected ties to Afghan networks. 17
and is now serving a life sentence in a                        time, due to tensions between the GIA’s                      The suspects planned to attack the
Paris prison for the 1975 murders of two                       core members on the extreme use of                           newly-built headquarters of the DCRI
French intelligence agents and one of                          violence against civilians, Muslims                          in Levallois-Perret with a car bomb. 18
their informants.                                              included,     and   successful   French
                                                               counterterrorist efforts, the GIA’s                          More recently, in October 2009 Adlene
Beginning in the early 1990s, Islamist                         operations and influence faltered.                           Hicheur, a 32-year-old French nuclear
extremists recruited youth in the                                                                                           physicist of Algerian origin, discussed
impoverished French suburbs and                                The terrorist incidents of the 1990s                         possible terrorist attacks targeting
radicalized several of them to undertake                       showed France the level of sophistication
terrorist operations. The Islamist
terrorist threat grew dramatically when
                                                               that terrorist groups could achieve.
                                                               The GIA and other networks took
                                                                                                                            “Although it was on
the Algerian government annulled the                           advantage of European laws—such as                           a smaller scale when
victory of the Islamic Salvation Front                         a lack of extradition agreements—to
(FIS), the largest Algerian Islamic                            build extended networks. This had
                                                                                                                            compared to today, France
opposition party, in the first round of                        ramifications throughout North Africa                        nevertheless saw the
Algeria’s legislative elections in 1991.                       and Western Europe. Although it was on
The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) opted                            a smaller scale when compared to today,
                                                                                                                            1990s as a period that
for violent tactics in 1992 and 1993                           France nevertheless saw the 1990s as a                       foreshadowed the current
in response to the annulment, and                              period that foreshadowed the current
it began to target those suspected of                          fight against al-Qa`ida and related
                                                                                                                            fight against al-Qa`ida and
supporting the Algerian government.                            groups. Today’s Islamist terrorist                           related groups.”
It also designated foreigners in Algeria                       groups share a similar ideology that is
and French people everywhere as                                hostile to democracy and that rejects
priority targets. 10 On the pretense                           social and political progress. 13 Moreover,
that French authorities opposed the                            “homegrown” converts to Islam engaged                        French      businesses   and    military
GIA by dismantling its logistical and                          in jihadist actions as early as 1996 in                      barracks. 19 He allegedly exchanged
funding networks in France, the group                          France, when the “gang de Roubaix” 14                        e-mails with members of AQIM in North
decided to strike France. In addition                          robbed banks and attempted to blow up                        Africa. Although he never reached the
to assassinating French people in                              a car with gas cylinders at a G7 meeting                     operational stage, Hicheur is now being
Algeria, the group took an Air France                          in Lille, France. 15 The case demonstrated                   held under “provisional detention” with
flight hostage on December 24, 1994. 11                        to French intelligence the danger posed                      no time limit. What raised concern in the
In 1995, the GIA killed eight people                           by a few fanatic individuals and the                         intelligence community is that he was
                                                               interaction between violent crime and                        working on the Large Hadron Collider
ing, 1998).                                                    terrorism. Indeed, Islamist terrorism                        (LHC), a unique scientific project led
7 Mycle Schneider, “The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism,”          was already international, long before                       by the Switzerland-based European
speech to the French National Assembly, December 10,           9/11.                                                        Organization for Nuclear Research
2001.                                                                                                                       (CERN) and that uses state-of-the-art
8 “Suspected Terrorist ‘Carlos the Jackal’ to Face Trial,”                                                                  nuclear-related technology.
NewsMax, May 4, 2007.                                          12 “Attentats de 1995: le procès tant attendu,” RFI, Sep-
9 David Yallop, Tracking the Jackal: The Search for Car-       tember 30, 2002. In December 2005, Rachid Ramda,
los, the World’s Most Wanted Man (New York: Random             accused of organizing the 1995 metro bombings, was
House, 1993).                                                  extradited to France from the United Kingdom. Ramda
10 Gerard Chaliand and Arnaud Blin, Histoire du terror-        was convicted in 2007 for involvement in the GIA and
isme, De l’Antiquité à Al Qaida (Paris: Bayard, 2006).         the metro bombings. He received a life sentence.
11 The hostage-taking on Christmas Day in 1994 of Air          13 Abdelhak Layada, one of the founders of the GIA, was
France flight AF8969 and the successful neutralization         quoted as saying “political pluralism is equivalent to se-   16 “Al Qaeda Threatens France for Perceived Anti-Burqa
of the four Algerian GIA terrorists by the National Gen-       dition.” See Jeune Afrique, January 27, 1994.                Stance,” CNN, June 30, 2009.
darmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) task force made the         14 The Gang de Roubaix was run by two French converts        17 “Comment on traque les terroristes,” Le Point, March
French people realize the seriousness of the threat. It also   to Islam, Christophe Caze and Lionel Dumont. It counted      12, 2009.
gave them confidence in the government’s capacity to           up to six members.                                           18 Ibid.
address it. The terrorists’ final objective was to crash the   15 Mary Dejevsky, “Islamic Terror Link to French Siege,”     19 “Suspect Physicist Discussed Attacks on French
plane into the Eiffel Tower, a tactic later used on 9/11.      Independent, April 2, 1996.                                  Army,” Associated Press, November 17, 2009.


                                                               23
                                                                                                                                    jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


The French Government’s View on                              the French. 23 Algeria eventually gained                   minimal and remote, in connection with
Counterterrorism                                             independence.                                              a terrorist plot, or “enterprise.” 25 This
Led by judges from the counterterrorism                                                                                 law can be somewhat compared to the
section of the public prosecutor’s office,                   French Counterterrorism Tactics                            U.S. Federal Racketeer Influenced and
counterterrorism         investigations—                     France     pursues      a    number    of                  Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) that
whether domestic or foreign—are                              strategies to counter terrorist groups.                    stipulates
conducted in the same manner as a                            France’s       intelligence      agencies
criminal     investigation.    Terrorists                    emphasize international cooperation,                          it shall be unlawful for any person
are treated as any other dangerous                           human sources and the training of                             employed by or associated with
criminal to delegitimize their “cause.”                      counterterrorist operatives. It addresses                     any enterprise engaged in, or
From the French viewpoint, the special                       the psychological dimension of the                            the activities of which affect,
jurisdiction for enemy combatants at                         mission by following a strict three-tier                      interstate or foreign commerce, to
Guantanamo Bay is counterproductive                          approach that combines compliance,                            conduct or participate, directly or
because it elevates terrorists to a                          coherence and convergence. 24 This                            indirectly, in the conduct of such
higher level of importance, bolstering                       means that to reach optimal efficiency,                       enterprise’s affairs through a
their narrative. Moreover, the French                        counterterrorism must be inventive                            pattern of racketeering activity or
government views the threat of terrorism                                                                                   collection of unlawful debt. 26
differently from the United States.
Although France considers Islamist
                                                             “In basic terms, French                                    Another tactic used by French law
terrorism a major threat, it does not                        law authorizes the arrest                                  enforcement to prevent terrorist attacks
view terrorist actions as an “act of war”                                                                               is to “incite” one or several suspects
against France or against the West as a                      and prosecution of any                                     to break the law, often through the
whole. 20 France defines terrorism as the                    individual who played a                                    use of undercover agents. This is
violent expression of extremism, which                                                                                  permissible in the French legal system
is sometimes motivated by religion                           role, however minimal                                      if the objective is to prevent a more
and other times motivated by different                       and remote, in connection                                  dangerous or impending offense. The
factors.                                                                                                                intelligence services employ the same
                                                             with a terrorist plot, or                                  tactics to trace a network. Such special
This definition was borne out of                             ‘enterprise.’”                                             clauses only apply to cases related to
France’s extensive history of dealing                                                                                   procurement, narcotics and threats to
with guerrilla and terrorist tactics.                                                                                   the security of the state, which includes
In the Algerian War, 21 for example,                                                                                    terrorism. Only a few magistrates
France learned that military victory                         and flexible while remaining within                        control the legality of these actions, and
on the ground did not guarantee an                           the confines of the law. Renouncing                        their activities are highly classified. The
end to terrorist attacks. Moreover, it                       democratic principles to further a                         French penal code that was modified
realized that the “hearts and minds” of                      counterterrorism mission will only help                    in   2006      allows    counterterrorism
a population could not be won through                        terrorists spread their ideology and                       agents to investigate cases and testify
military action alone. Indeed, as it                         bolster their “martyr” narrative.                          anonymously by providing the judiciary
faced growing resilience from National                                                                                  with their administrative registration
Liberation Front (FLN) 22 networks,                          The     main   tool  in   the   French                     number. 27 An agent’s real identity can
the French military increasingly used                        counterterrorist arsenal is a unique                       only be unveiled upon the decision of
harsher measures to the detriment                            and far-reaching law that makes “an                        the attorney general at the Court of
of conventional military procedures.                         intention to commit a crime a crime                        Appeal in Paris. Consequently, the
Although      these     harsher     tactics                  itself.” By accusing an individual of                      law authorizes the agents to “enter,”
were more successful in gathering                            “association with wrong-doers involved                     or infiltrate, networks under their
intelligence, it turned a large part of the                  in a terrorist enterprise,” the French                     agency’s supervision. These agents are
local Arab population in Algeria against                     judiciary can arrest and detain any                        compartmentalized from conventional
                                                             suspect for any crime that could have                      units of their own service and their
                                                             ultimately assisted terrorist activity.                    operations are carried out in complete
20 This is a marked difference to the former U.S. admin-     In basic terms, French law authorizes                      secrecy. France has a long history
istration of George W. Bush, which declared a “global        the arrest and prosecution of any                          of infiltrating terrorist and criminal
war on terrorism.”                                           individual who played a role, however                      networks, and its intelligence and
21 The Algerian War began on November 1, 1954 and                                                                       law enforcement agencies have been
ended on March 19, 1962. Although the French led a suc-      23 For details on the war, see: Lt.-Col. James D. Camp-    successful at this tactic for decades.
cessful counterinsurgency strategy and achieved mili-        bell, “French Algeria and British Northern Ireland: Le-
tary victory, Algeria gained independence. The memory        gitimacy and the Rule of Law in Low-Intensity Conflict,”
of this conflict still hampers good relations between the    Military Review, March-April 2005; David Galula, Coun-
two countries.                                               terinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Santa Barba-   25 French Penal Code, Article 421-2-2.
22 The National Liberation Front is a socialist political    ra, CA: Praeger, 2006); Alistair Horne, A Savage War of    26 Chapter 96 of Title 18 of the United States Code, 18
party in Algeria. It was established on November 1, 1954     Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (New York: NYRB, 2006).           U.S.C. § 1961-1968, enacted in 1970, Section 1962, para-
from a merger of smaller groups, with the objective of ob-   24 Personal interview, André Tarrat, former DST senior     graph c.
taining Algerian independence from France.                   intelligence officer, Paris, November 7, 2009.             27 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 706-24.


                                                             24
                                                                                                                                        jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


French      authorities     have     also                       understanding of the threat. Specific                         the army controller general from the
progressively built a robust surveillance                       studies programs exist, such as the                           Ministry of Defense.
network that privileges the use of                              Paris-based     Research    Department
human sources. It identifies people who                         on Contemporary Criminal Threats                              Conclusion
spend time with individuals known                               (DRMCC), which develops relevant                              France has faced terrorist threats
for having extremist views. Foreign                             theories on “early detection” 31 and                          for decades. As a result, it has a
intelligence identifies and monitors                            trains people from various backgrounds                        well-established        counterterrorism
specific locations where jihadists pass                         on the concept. 32                                            apparatus that benefits from a number
through (such as in Pakistan’s tribal                                                                                         of laws that do not have real parallels
areas). Allied intelligence agencies                            The population is the last line of defense.                   in the United States, from being able
often inform their French counterparts                          Since the events of the 1990s, the                            to detain any individual who is even
of the presence of people of interest.                          French people have become accustomed                          remotely connected to a “wrong-
Occasionally such individuals are                               to living under the terrorism threat, and                     doer,” to operating in a more secretive
recruited for intelligence purposes.                            there are a number of public vigilance                        political environment. Moreover, the
Moreover, French intelligence services                          programs. For two decades, the French                         role of counterterrorism judges greatly
have identified and extracted relevant                          public has been encouraged to report                          assists the centralization of the French
data from the mass of information                               any suspicious package or activity to                         security apparatus, as these judges
available on the internet.                                      the authorities.                                              are in constant interaction with the
                                                                                                                              judiciary, law enforcement and the
Similar to the constantly changing                              Finally, the French would argue that                          intelligence agencies. The purpose of
tactics of terrorist groups, French                             counterterrorism       and    intelligence                    the counterterrorism judges—such as
counterterrorism       authorities    are                       agencies    in    the   country    benefit                    the well-known former judge Jean-
constantly      adapting      to   recent                       from a higher level of secrecy and                            Louis Bruguière—is to “connect the
developments. At the end of 2009, for                           centralization. Contrary to the United                        dots.” Many of these benefits are unique
example, French Interior Minister Brice                         States, there is no independent authority                     to France, as the population supports
Hortefeux announced that France would                           in charge of controlling France’s                             practices that in the United States
be grouping its elite police intervention                       intelligence agencies. Following the                          would be viewed as a violation of civil
units into a single force to better fight                       reshaping of the counterterrorism law                         liberties. Nevertheless, it is useful for
potential terrorist attacks. 28 The move                        in 2006, however, an eight-member                             Western governments to study French
will combine three existing units—                              parliamentary delegation in charge of                         counterterrorism practices due to their
comprising a total of 500 people—                               intelligence affairs was established                          success in countering multiple terrorist
under a single command, known as                                to monitor the general activities of                          plots after the violence of the 1990s.
the Intervention Force of the National                          the country’s intelligence services.
Police (FIPN). 29                                               Nevertheless, the body has never                              Charles Rault is an analyst specialized in
                                                                delivered a report to the public, except                      non-conventional threats. He is the director
On a larger scale, considering that                             the names of the delegation’s members.                        of the International Security Research and
counterterrorism cannot rely solely                             Moreover, no public testimony has                             Intelligence Agency (ISRIA), an information
on specialized agents, the search for                           been given by any high-ranking French                         analysis and global intelligence company,
operational intelligence is one of the                          intelligence official; in the United                          and a Senior Adviser with the Athens-
primary missions of non-specialized                             States, on the other hand, this happens                       based Research Institute for European
internal security forces. This results                          several times a year. Foreign intelligence                    and American Studies (RIEAS). He has
in all agencies’ and units’ contribution                        conducted by the General Directorate                          advised various state institutions and large
in the detection and upward flow of                             for External Security (DGSE) is placed                        companies in the assessment of current and
intelligence for use in counterterrorism.                       under the direct authority of France’s                        future threats.
For a good understanding of what is at                          president and prime minister. Domestic
stake, the government renewed law                               intelligence conducted by the DCRI
enforcement training programs and                               is monitored by the criminal justice
developed continuing education models                           system, although disagreements are
so that all units know about the social and                     rare. Military intelligence under the
religious environment in French society                         Directorate of Military Intelligence
so that they can better recognize and                           (DRM) and the Security and Protection
identify indications of possible terrorist                      Department (DPSD) is controlled by
activity. 30   Moreover,     information-
sharing between government officials                            31 “Early detection” consists of making an early diagno-
and academics has fostered a better                             sis of a potential security threat to act precisely and de-
                                                                cisively.
28 “France to Form Special Force to Fight Terrorists,”          32 Including a master-level degree in the analysis of con-
Associated Press, December 1, 2009.                             temporary criminal threats which the author of this arti-
29 Ibid.                                                        cle attended. In French, the theory is named le décèlement
30 La France face au terrorisme, Livre blanc du Gouverne-       précoce. For details on the theory, see Xavier Raufer, Les
ment sur la sécurité intérieure face au terrorisme (Paris: La   Nouveaux Dangers Planétaires - Chaos Mondial, Décèlement
documentation Française, 2006).                                 Précoce (Paris: CNRS-Arès, 2009).


                                                                25
                                                                                                            jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


Recent Highlights in                            however, has been increasingly strained.          Shi`a district of Sadr City, killing at
                                                Al-Shabab, a major insurgent group in             least eight people. Among the dead were
Terrorist Activity                              Somalia, is linked to al-Qa`ida. – Voice of       reportedly six children between the ages
                                                America, December 2                               of six and 12. – al-Jazira, December 7
December 1, 2009 (UNITED STATES):
U.S. President Barack Obama announced           December 3, 2009 (IRAQ): A suicide                December 7, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A
that 30,000 additional U.S. troops              bomber killed the head of Salah al-Din            suicide bomber killed 10 people outside
would be deployed to Afghanistan as             Province’s anti-terrorism squad in Tikrit.        a courthouse in Peshawar, the capital of
part of the administration’s strategy to        Lieutenant-Colonel     Ahmed     al-Fahel         the North-West Frontier Province. – AP,
stabilize the country by reversing Taliban      died in the blast, along with three of his        December 8
“momentum.” The troops would also               bodyguards. – AFP, December 3
prevent al-Qa`ida from establishing a                                                             December       7,    2009      (PAKISTAN):
safe haven. President Obama said that the       December 3, 2009 (SOMALIA): A suicide             Two suicide bombers detonated their
troops would be deployed starting in early      bomber struck a graduation ceremony               explosives at a popular market in Lahore,
2010 “with a goal of starting to withdraw       for medical students at the Shamo Hotel           killing at least 50 people. – AP, December 8;
forces from the country in July 2011.” –        in Mogadishu, killing three cabinet               The News International, December 9
CNN, December 2                                 ministers and at least 16 other people. The
                                                bomber was disguised as a veiled woman.           December 8, 2009 (IRAQ): At least five
December 1, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A suicide          No group claimed responsibility for the           car bombs exploded in neighborhoods
bomber killed a provincial politician,          attack, although authorities blamed al-           across Baghdad, killing 127 Iraqis. Three
Shamsher Ali Khan, in the Swat Valley.          Shabab. An al-Shabab spokesman denied             of the car bombs reportedly involved
Khan was a member of the Awami                  that the group was involved. – Los Angeles        suicide bombers. The Islamic State of
National Party. The bomber reportedly           Times, December 4; Independent, December 4; AP,   Iraq, which is directly tied to al-Qa`ida
walked unchallenged into the grounds            December 5                                        in Iraq, claimed credit for the attacks.
of Khan’s house and then detonated his                                                            – St. Petersburg Times, December 9; Telegraph,
explosives. – al-Jazira, December 2             December 4, 2009 (AFGHANISTAN):                   December 9
                                                Twenty-five NATO allies agreed to send
December 2, 2009 (UNITED STATES):               7,000 more troops to Afghanistan in               December 8, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A
U.S.    Homeland       Security   Secretary     support of U.S. President Barack Obama’s          suspected U.S. unmanned aerial drone
Janet Napolitano warned, “Individuals           December 1 decision to send 30,000 more           killed at least three militants in North
sympathetic to al-Qaeda and its affiliates,     U.S. soldiers to the country. – Reuters,          Waziristan Agency of the Federally
as well as those inspired by their ideology,    December 4                                        Administered Tribal Areas. The strike
are present in the U.S., and would like                                                           occurred in Spalga, 10 miles east of Miran
to attack the homeland or plot overseas         December 4, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A                    Shah. – Reuters, December 7
attacks against our interests abroad.”          mosque frequented by military officials in
– Washington Post, December 3                   Rawalpindi was targeted by two suicide            December 8, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A U.S.
                                                bombers during Friday prayers. At least           unmanned aerial drone killed Salah
December 2, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A suicide          two other militants then opened fire on           al-Somali in Pakistan. Al-Somali was
bomber detonated his explosives at a            worshippers. Approximately 36 people              identified as the head of al-Qa`ida’s
security checkpoint outside Pakistan’s          were killed. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan            operations outside of Afghanistan and
naval headquarters in the heart of              claimed credit for the attack. – Reuters,         Pakistan. U.S. officials took credit for the
Islamabad. Two naval personnel were             December 4; CNN, December 7                       operation, saying that al-Somali was on
killed in the blast. – Bloomberg, December 2;                                                     the Central Intelligence Agency’s list of
BBC, December 2; Dawn, December 4               December 6, 2009 (IRAQ): Unidentified             the top 20 al-Qa`ida targets. – Wall Street
                                                gunmen killed four policemen guarding a           Journal, December 12
December 2, 2009 (PAKISTAN): The                vegetable market in Abu Ghurayb on the
mayor of Karachi said that the city is the      outskirts of Baghdad. – AFP, December 6           December 8, 2009 (NORTH AFRICA):
“revenue engine for the Taliban.” Mayor                                                           Al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed
Syed Mustafa Kamal told Reuters, “People        December 6, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A bomb               credit for the November kidnappings of
are being kidnapped here in Karachi             exploded outside a mosque in Bajaur               three Spanish aid workers in Mauritania,
and the ransom is taken in Waziristan.”         Agency of the Federally Administered              and the kidnapping of French national
– Reuters, December 2                           Tribal Areas, killing two anti-Taliban            Pierre Kamat in Mali. – Voice of America,
                                                tribal leaders. – AFP, December 6                 December 8
December 2, 2009 (SOMALIA): Abdinasir
Seraar, the spokesman for the leader of         December 7, 2009 (IRAQ): Five gunmen              December 9, 2009 (PAKISTAN): Pakistani
the Ras Kamboni insurgent faction in            shot dead six members of an anti-al-              authorities   arrested   five    Muslim-
Somalia, said that the group now considers      Qa`ida militia as they were manning a             American men in Sargodha, a major city in
al-Shabab to be the greatest threat to the      checkpoint in Nadim village, 19 miles             Punjab Province, on suspicion of having
country. The Ras Kamboni faction is part        north of Baghdad. – AFP, December 5               ties to Pakistani extremist groups. The
of the Somali insurgent coalition Hisbul                                                          men, who are all from the Washington
Islamiyya, which has previously allied          December 7, 2009 (IRAQ): A bomb ripped            D.C. suburbs, were allegedly on their way
itself with al-Shabab. This relationship,       through a school for boys in Baghdad’s            to North Waziristan Agency for training

                                                26
                                                                                                         jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


with the Taliban and al-Qa`ida. It appears     played a role in forging links between          authorities identified one of the dead as
that the men used the internet—including       the ASG and Jemaah Islamiya and al-             Mohammed Saleh Mohammed Ali al-
Facebook and YouTube—to connect with           Qa`ida. The United States is asking for         Kazemi, described as a deputy in an al-
extremist groups in Pakistan. The men          his extradition for the 1993 kidnapping of      Qa`ida cell in Yemen. – Washington Post,
were reportedly recruited on the internet      an American missionary in Pangutaran,           December 17; CNN, December 18
by a man identified as “Saifullah,” who        Sulu Province. According to the Philippine
authorities in Pakistan are trying to find.    Inquirer, “Latip was arrested by Indonesian     December 17, 2009 (SOMALIA): Al-
– New York Times, December 10; NPR, December   authorities last Nov. 21 and turned over to     Shabab militants stormed three UN Mine
11; Washington Post, December 13               the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, which        Action Service compounds in Baidoa.
                                               sent him back to the Philippines.” – BBC,       – AFP, December 18
December 11, 2009 (AFGHANISTAN): A             December 16; Philippine Inquirer, December 17
suicide bomber detonated his explosives                                                        December 18, 2009 (UNITED STATES):
on a busy street in Paktika Province,          December 17, 2009 (GLOBAL): A wife              Three suspected members of al-Qa`ida in
killing three people. One of the dead was      of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Omaima Hassan,            the Islamic Maghreb arrived in New York
a policeman. – AFP, December 11                purportedly released a message to Muslim        to be charged with plotting to transport
                                               women urging them to “raise your children       drugs through the Sahara desert to raise
December 13, 2009 (PHILIPPINES):               to obey Allah and love jihad and to defend      money for terrorist attacks. The men,
Approximately 70 suspected Islamic             the Muslim lands.” The message further          all apparently from Mali, were arrested
militants broke through a concrete             said, “Fighting is not easy for women           by local authorities in Ghana in the past
wall and then stormed into a jail in the       because they need a male guardian by            week and then turned over to U.S. agents.
southern Philippines, freeing 31 inmates.      their side…But we can place ourselves           – AP, December 18
At least five of the escaped militants were    in service of the mujahidin and do what
members of the Moro Islamic Liberation         they ask of us. We can help by supporting       December 18, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A
Front and 12 were from the Abu Sayyaf          warriors with money or information or           suicide bomber in a vehicle attacked a
Group. – The Scotsman, December 14             even by a martyrdom operation.” – CNN,          mosque next to a police headquarters in
                                               December 17                                     Lower Dir District of the North-West
December 14, 2009 (SPAIN): A Spanish                                                           Frontier Province. At least 11 people were
court convicted 11 Islamic militants of        December 17, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A U.S.            killed by the explosion. – Los Angeles Times,
membership in a terrorist group. The           unmanned aerial drone killed two people         December 19
court, however, acquitted the men of a         in a vehicle in Dosali village, located in
“specific” conspiracy to attack Barcelona’s    North Waziristan Agency of the Federally        December 18, 2009 (MAURITANIA):
metro subway system in January 2008.           Administered Tribal Areas. – AP, December       An Italian couple was kidnapped by
The judges found that the “Barcelona           17                                              gunmen in Mauritania. On December 27,
plot” had “not advanced sufficiently” to                                                       al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed
be considered a crime of conspiracy under      December 17, 2009 (PAKISTAN): Five              responsibility for the kidnapping. – AP,
Spanish law. – CNN, December 14                U.S. unmanned aerial drones attacked            December 19; Reuters, December 28
                                               two compounds in the Ambarshaga
December 15, 2009 (AFGHANISTAN): A             area of North Waziristan Agency in the          December 21, 2009 (IRAQ): A suicide
suicide bomber in a vehicle killed at least    Federally Administered Tribal Areas,            bomber killed a local leader and three of
eight people near a hotel in the Wazir         killing 15 people. Zuhaib al-Zahibi, an         his guards in Tal Afar, Ninawa Province.
Akbar Khan district in Kabul. – BBC,           al-Qa`ida commander, was reportedly             The leader, Hussein Akris, was an
December 15                                    among the dead. – Washington Post, December     independent politician who heads the Tal
                                               18; AP, December 17                             Afar governing council. – Reuters, December
December 15, 2009 (AFGHANISTAN): A                                                             21; AP, December 21
suicide bomber killed two British soldiers     December 17, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A
out on patrol in Helmand Province. Two         suicide bomber detonated his explosives         December 22, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A
Afghan army soldiers also died in the          at the home of a local political leader         suicide bomber detonated explosives
blast. – BBC, December 15                      in Bannu District of the North-West             outside a press club in Peshawar, killing
                                               Frontier Province. The bomber was the           three people. – AP, December 21; AP, December
December 15, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A                only casualty. – AFP, December 17               22
suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into
the outer wall of a provincial minister’s      December 17, 2009 (RUSSIA): A suicide           December 23, 2009 (INDIA): Indian
home in Punjab Province, killing at least      bomber in a vehicle targeted a group of         Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that
20 people. The lawmaker, Zulfiqar Khosa,       policemen at a checkpoint in the city           “twelve to 13 terror attacks [in India] were
was not at home during the time of the         of Nazran, located in Ingushetia. The           neutralized in 2009 which could have
attack. – Bloomberg, December 15               explosion wounded seven officers. – AP,         been like Mumbai.” – AFP, December 23
                                               December 17
December 16, 2009 (PHILIPPINES):                                                               December 24, 2009 (IRAQ): Two bombs
Philippine authorities have arrested           December 17, 2009 (YEMEN): Yemeni               ripped through a busy bus station in
Abdul Basir Latip, who has been identified     security forces killed at least 28 suspected    Hilla, Babil Province, killing 15 people.
as a founding member of the Abu Sayyaf         al-Qa`ida militants at a training camp          – AFP, December 24
Group (ASG). Authorities allege that Latip     in al-Maajala, Abyan Province. Yemeni

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                                                                                                              jANUARy 2010 . VoL 3 . IssUE 1


                                                    December 24, 2009 (AFGHANISTAN):                December 28, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A
CTC Sentinel Staff                                  A suicide bomber driving a horse-drawn          suicide bomber attacked a Shi`a religious
                                                    cart loaded with explosives blew up in          procession in Karachi, killing at least 40
 editor-in-Chief                                    Kandahar, killing eight people. – New York      people. – CNN, December 29
 Erich Marquardt                                    Times, December 24
 senior Editor, CTC                                                                                 December 28, 2009 (YEMEN): Yemeni
                                                    December 24, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A                 authorities arrested 29 suspected al-
 editorial Board                                    suicide bomber killed five people near          Qa`ida members and announced that they
 CoL Michael j. Meese, ph.D.                        a security checkpoint in Peshawar,              foiled an attack on government targets in
 Department Head                                    the capital of the North-West Frontier          addition to the British Embassy. – Christian
 Department of social sciences (West point)         Province. – Washington Post, December 24        Science Monitor, December 28

 CoL Cindy R. jebb, ph.D.                           December 24, 2009 (PAKISTAN): A                 December 29, 2009 (INDIA): The
 Deputy Department Head                             suicide bomber detonated explosives             U.S. government issued an alert for
 Department of social sciences (West point)         outside a Shi`a shrine on the main road         Americans traveling to India, stating,
                                                    from Islamabad to the international             “The US government continues to receive
 LTC Reid sawyer                                    airport, killing a six-year-old girl. – AFP,    information that terrorist groups may be
 Director, CTC                                      December 24                                     planning attacks in India.” – AFP, December
                                                                                                    29
 Christopher Heffelfinger                           December 24, 2009 (YEMEN): Yemeni
 FBI Fellow, CTC                                    aircraft killed 34 suspected al-Qa`ida          December 30, 2009 (AFGHANISTAN): A
                                                    militants in Shabwa Province. – AFP,            suicide bomber killed seven CIA agents
                                                    December 23                                     at Forward Operating Base Chapman in
                                                                                                    Khost Province. An officer of Jordan’s
                                                    December 25, 2009 (UNITED STATES):              General Intelligence Directorate was also
 CONTACT                                            Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian,          killed. Multiple Taliban factions claimed
 Combating Terrorism Center                         attempted to blow up Northwest Airlines         credit for the attack. – New York Daily News,
 U.s. Military Academy                              Flight 253 en route from Amsterdam to           December 31; Washington Post, December 31
 607 Cullum Road, Lincoln Hall                      Detroit, Michigan. His explosives did not
 West point, nY 10996                               detonate properly, allowing passengers          December 30, 2009 (AFGHANISTAN):
 phone: (845) 667-6383                              to subdue him. Al-Qa`ida in the Arabian         Militants     kidnapped      two    French
 Email: sentinel@usma.edu                           Peninsula claimed credit for the failed         journalists, their translator and driver in
 Web: www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/                    attack. – AFP, December 26                      Kapisa Province. – Reuters, December 31

 * For press Inquiries: (845) 667-6383              December 25, 2009 (AFGHANISTAN):                December 30, 2009 (IRAQ): A car bomb
                                                    The Taliban released a video showing            and a suicide bomber exploded at a
                                                    Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier captured by       government building in Ramadi, killing at
                                                    insurgents on June 30, 2009. According          least 27 people and wounding the Anbar
                                                    to the Los Angeles Times, “Bergdahl had         Province governor. – Financial Times,
                                                    not been heard from since July 19, nearly       December 31
 SUPPORT                                            three weeks after his capture.” – Los Angeles
 The Combating Terrorism Center would               Times, December 25                              December 30, 2009 (YEMEN): Yemeni
 like to express its gratitude to its financial                                                     authorities arrested Mohammed Abdu
 supporters, for without their support and          December     26,   2009      (PAKISTAN):        Saleh al-Haudali, who they identified
 shared vision of the Center products like          Authorities found the beheaded body of an       as “one of the most dangerous terrorists
 the CTC sentinel could not be produced. If         anti-Taliban Salarzai tribal elder in Bajaur    wanted by the security forces.” – CNN,
 you are interested in learning more about          Agency of the Federally Administered            December 31
 how to support the Combating Terrorism             Tribal Areas. – AFP, December 26
 Center, please visit http://www.ctc.usma.                                                          December 31, 2009 (PAKISTAN): The
 edu/support/ or call Wayne Richardson at           December     27,    2009    (PAKISTAN):         United Nations announced that it will
 West point’s Association of Graduates at           Militants blew up the home of a                 withdraw some of its staff from Pakistan,
 845-446-1553.                                      government official in Kurram Agency of         citing increased safety concerns as a result
                                                    the Federally Administered Tribal Areas,        of Taliban attacks. – Reuters, December 31
                                                    killing the official and five members of
                                                    his family. Sarbraz Saddiqi, his wife and
                                                    four children died while sleeping when
                                                    the house was destroyed with dynamite.
                                                    – BBC, December 27
The views expressed in this report are those of
the authors and not of the U.s. Military Academy,
the Department of the Army, or any other agency
of the U.s. Government.


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