Exploiting Al Qaeda’s Weaknesses (Updated with Link)

29.04.08

Categorie: Extremists |

“Understanding of the Al Qaeda network and how it operates under pressure from the [U.S.] government” — that’s the aim of a short monograph (updated link — ed.) from the Combating Terrorism Center, a new think tank at the U.S. Military Academy, aka “West Point.”

The monograph is based on documents snatched from Al Qaeda cells, and posits that attacks on Al Qaeda’s sanctuaries, including those in Afghanistan, has “significantly degraded [Osama] bin Laden’s command and control,” forcing the organization to become more decentralized — and, at its moments of greatest duress, simply a “brand” that inspires isolated, independent affiliate groups.

That’s old news. But what’s new (to me) is CTC’s ideas for exploiting this change in Al Qaeda’s organization:

* Give junior Al Qaeda members opportunities to leave the organization. In other words, amnesty. This “exit option” makes it hard for Al Qaeda leaders to enforce discipline within the ranks.

* Deliberately “corrupt” open-source technical information — such as internet bomb blueprints — in order to undermine isolated cells’ confidence in their ability to execute attacks.

* Crack down on “ungoverned spaces” where Al Qaeda can find refuge and rebuild as a controlled organization.

That last strategy raises some very important points about Somalia that I will highlight tomorrow.

(Art: Adam Rosenlund)

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3 Responses to “Exploiting Al Qaeda’s Weaknesses (Updated with Link)”

  1. Wiggins says:

    Do you have a link to the full monograph?

  2. David Axe says:

    I will dig up the link shortly.

  3. [...] The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has some good ideas about, well, combating terrorism. Not so good is their advice for preventing Al Qaeda from finding refuge in failed states (Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.), and doing so without too many ground troops. Consider: While a concern with security vacuums is warranted, the implication is not that we must consistently prevent security vacuums. That takes immense resources, as the largely unsuccessful effort to end the security vacuum in Iraq [prior to 2007] show. Indeed preventing all security vacuums would be a Herculean task involving American power in numerous failed and failing states around the world. However, denying terrorists the benefits of security vacuums is likely a more feasible strategy. [...]

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