Counter-Terrorism: Gimpy Geezers Stick It To The Kids

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April 14,2008: Recent reports that Taliban leader Abu Obaidah al Masri had died of hepatitis in rural Pakistan, is a reminder that the terrorist life is not very healthful. Especially in Afghanistan, and adjacent tribal areas of Pakistan, where the average lifespan is 46 years. Al Masri, an Egyptian, was in his mid-40s.

The latest round of Islamic terrorism began in the late 1970s (in Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan), and the surviving terrorists are getting old. Most are living on the fringes of the known world, in order avoid capture and prosecution. Osama bin Laden is 51 years old, and there are frequent rumors about his health problems. He's not alone, and Afghanistan is not the only hideout for aging terrorists. There's about a hundred of them skulking about in the nether lands of North Africa. The Sahara desert provide lots of hiding places. Alas, these are not healthy hiding places. Not a lot of medical care, and plenty of opportunity to pick up new diseases. Many of these elderly terrorists are also nursing old battle wounds. Chronic pain from past trauma (ask old athletes about this) can be a bitch, especially without modern pain killers. Some of the favorite substitutes include many recreational drugs (opium and heroin). These impair judgment, and are one reason for the growing violence between the old timers and a new generation of younger terrorist leaders. But most of the older guys still got it. Years of experience, not to mention connections and a big bag of tricks, gives the gimpy old geezers an edge. The heavy use of suicide bomber tactics also gives the old timers a convenient way to dispose of potentially troublesome youngsters.

This growing civil war within Islamic terrorist groups is largely the result of hard times and failed strategies. You can only blame the enemy for so long, before some of your people turn their attention to their own organization and methods. These internal feuds are becoming more common, and violent. That, plus the ravages of old age, old wounds and no medical insurance, are becoming a major factor in the demise of some Islamic terror groups.

 


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