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Defeating terrorism: lessons from past mistakes Defeating terrorism: lessons from past mistakes
by Joseph Gatt
2021-04-12 09:23:37
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In the past, pundits and others focused on the relationship between Islam and terrorism. That is, a lot of research focused on what verses of the Quran and what Islamic traditions led terrorists to become terrorists.

While ideology certainly helps understand terrorism and its strategy, it only helps understand Islamic fundamentalist groups’ long-term strategy. More importantly, most terrorist groups do not get all the sources for combat from the Quran, or from other books. They use a little bit of human intelligence and intelligence from media sources when fighting.

terrrrrrrrr01First, you need to understand their goal. Islamic terrorists usually blame the disastrous economic situation in their countries, which lack of housing, 8 people sleeping in the same tiny room, lack of food and eating dry food every day, no employment prospects, and Arab and Muslim nations' government abuse and corruption, all that is blamed on the fact that Islamic governments don't adopt strict Islamic morals when governing.

Strict Islamic morals means donating to charity, means respecting individuals and not abusing them, and means a social project where people can afford food and housing, albeit in strict social norms.

But Jihadists are not that clever and precise. They usually focus on behavior. To them Islam means “no smoking, drinking alcohol, gambling or sex” and means banning any activity that entices smoking, drinking, gambling and sex. Not much else, and most of them in fact have never really read the Quran or anything.

So soccer games should be banned (because they incite gambling) and women should cover their entire faces and bodies and always be in the presence of a “guardian man” (otherwise that incites sex) and most cafés and restaurants have to shut down (because they incite smoking and drinking alcohol), and to them this pretty much sums up Islam and prosperity.

That is these guys don't have big projects for their nation, don't believe in big political and economic ideas, and, hell, they don't even plan the economy. Their governments are mostly ministries that monitor behavior that could lead to smoking, drinking, gambling or sex. And their spies are mainly focused on collecting information on who drank alcohol or who secretly smoked or who gambled or who did whoppy with whom. So if someone tattles and claims he found cigarette butts hidden somewhere, that's what they investigate and that's the kind of information they seek.

On the battlefront. Jihadist organizations lack manpower and lack weapons. Even guns are scarce, which is why they tend to prefer stabbing or using knives than wasting bullets. To them, every rifle and weapon counts, and every bullet counts and should be used wisely.

Furthermore, these guys lack funds. They are not going to get a lot of donations from people when they say they are going to ban smoking and drinking and sex. And most people don't have money to donate anyway.

So their operation mode: attack to obtain weapons and to obtain funds. This means a lot of their operations involve kidnappings or “rich” individuals, or individuals likely to grant ransoms. And to them it means targeting soldiers and policemen in ambushes so they can kill them (or injure them) to steal their pistol or assault weapon. That's the main thing on their plate.

Because ransoms are not always obtained, and weapons are hard to come by (ambushes don't always work, and a lot of times they are the ones getting killed) and the people they kidnap, a lot of times, turn out not being that rich, or refusing to pay ransoms. So for these terrorists, even food is hard to come by, because they have to pay for their fresh food (or feed on canned food, which is a lot of what they eat).

The third thing on their list is spectacular terrorist attacks to hire more Jihadists, because, they have trouble hiring. So they know that Arabs tend to be proud when Westerners are attacked in spectacular attacks, because that means the victory of Arabs and Islam over mighty Europeans and Christianity.

But such attacks tend to be improvised, which is what makes them so fuc*ing hard to detect. That is, a lot of times, they will recruit someone in Berlin on Monday, and tell the guy to stab people or ram his car or do a mass shooting or something on Tuesday. So on Sunday Ahmed (or James) was playing video games and eating yoghurt. On Monday Ahmed (or Vincent) gets in touch with ISIS or some Islamic terrorist group. They convince him on Monday to attack on Tuesday (that's his first mission) and, bam, James or Ahmed go from video game nerds to terrorists.

So terrorists attack in Europe with the goal of recruiting more individuals in from Europe, but more importantly from the Arab world.

And a lot of times terrorist groups are stuck improvising. That is, when they hire people they need more funds (otherwise people starve, and a lot of terrorists do starve). Then they have to attack banks or kidnap rich people to get money. Problem is most rich people fled and most banks shut down, so a lot of times they end up kidnapping people who they suspect are rich, only it turns out the guy just happen to like wearing expensive brands.

More importantly, terrorists are often faced with resistance. That is, most terrorist groups will try to conquer villages and recruit the entire village, but the village people don't want their sisters to be terrorist brides and don't really believe in their cause. So that leads to battles in “their own turf.”

What other strategies do terrorists use? Some terrorists like to “pretend to defect” to join police forces or military forces, only to escape once they've determined how to police or military are going to attack the terrorists.

Yet another strategy they use is to recruit “sleeper agents.” That is, they'll recruit someone, and order the terrorist to get a day job and live comfortably within the community, only to calculate when the right time for the guy to attack is. Sleeper agents are usually used in strategic sectors like armament or security or banking or in the food sector. But those sleeper agents are very hard to find, because, usually, guys with Ph.D.s or smart kids are not very interested in Jihadist. More importantly, sleeper agents often opt-out and defect, and refuse to interact with terrorists.

For example, ISIS launched a campaign to hire doctors, because you know, terrorists get injured and need surgeons to heal them. How many doctors did they get? 10 doctors. Not 100. Not 10,000. 10 doctors. That's not a lot.

But then the main difficulty lies on terrorists and their constant improvisation. That is, their absence of a clear long-term strategy means they could pop up anywhere, at any time.

How do you defeat them? Problem is there are a lot of small, sometimes very small, sleeper cells waiting for their big break. Those sleeper cells believe that “people should not smoke, drink, gamble or have sex, or talk about Allah in improper ways” and they are waiting for a good time to strike.

So the answer is in the answer. If you see a group of young people worship Allah, and that they seem to be a little too obsessed about the idea that smoking, drinking, gambling and sex are terrible things, you have potential terrorists.

Problem is: a lot of Islamic governments are not big fans of smoking, drinking, gambling and sex. The police can arrest unmarried couples holding hands, and while alcohol is legal in most Islamic nations, there's a bit of a logistical problem: people are not allowed to drink at home, and alcohol licenses are very difficult to obtain, meaning that people often have to drink in their cars or in tents improvised as bars.

More importantly, alcohol was banned by a few Islamic nations in the 1970s (in 1972 in Saudi Arabia) because Islam is about “saving face” and when Muslims drink, if their families accuse them of drinking, they can be enraged, and there are instances of husbands who killed their wives simply because their wives had pointed out that they had been drinking and that drinking is a sin.

So we are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to terrorism. If Islamic nations adopt liberal morals regarding drinking and gambling and sex, they are going to get showered with terrorist attacks and dormant cells. If Islamic nations ban alcohol and pre-marital sex, dormant cells will still exist to fight those who drink and have sex under the table.

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