Counter-Terrorism: Getting The Genie Back In The Bottle

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June 22, 2016: AQIS (Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent) recently released a 26 minute video which stressed the more selective attacks long espoused by al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. In 2006 Bin Laden openly criticized the massive slaughter of Moslems (even if they were Shia) by al Qaeda in Iraq. Bin Laden pointed out that such indiscriminate slaughter would turn the Islamic world against al Qaeda that that is what happened. Bin Laden was more aware of this than most other senior al Qaeda leaders. Some of those Iraqi al Qaeda leaders went on to form ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in 2013. ISIL doesn’t care much about sparing women and children or innocent Moslems in general.

Shortly after Bin Laden’s public criticism the al Qaeda boss in Iraq (Abu Musab al Zarqawi) was removed (via an American smart bomb), and it's long been suspected that the targeting information for that hit was leaked to the Americans on bin Laden's orders. The defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq by 2008 led to a shift in tactics, away from killing lots of civilians, and more towards focusing on security forces, especially non-Moslems. This has been unpopular with the al Qaeda foot soldiers because Western troops are very hard to kill and too easy to get killed by. Moreover, one of al Qaeda's beliefs is that any Moslem killed during a bombing, who didn't want to be, was simply an "involuntary martyr." While nice in theory, the families of these involuntary martyrs hated al Qaeda for the honor and bin Laden picked up on this more than Zarqawi and other Iraqi al Qaeda leaders. One reason ISIL was formed in 2013 was because Western troops were gone from Iraq and there was chaos in neighboring Syria. Without the fearsome Western troops ISIL could run wild, kill anyone and gain lots of new recruits.

Unfortunately for ISIL Bin Laden knew what he was talking about. Bin Laden always provided a lot more encouragement for carrying out terror attacks in the West. That has been difficult because of the massive counter-terror efforts in the West, and the growing unpopularity of Islamic terrorism among Moslems in the West. Bin Laden's death in 2011 took away a major critic of the “kill them all” doctrine so loved by ISIL and now al Qaeda leaders are trying to get that genie back in the bottle.

AQIS was established in 2014 and has its headquarters in Karachi, long a haven for all sorts of criminal activity. AQIS has forged alliances with the major Islamic terrorist organizations in Karachi. To make those alliances work AQIS cannot try and recruit members of those other Islamic terror groups and that has slowed growth. Most of the AQIS violence since 2014 has been against police and other security forces in Karachi. AQIS considers these attacks necessary to survival as it helps keep the security forces from knowing too much or getting too close. AQIS was created to manage and support operations in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as India. It was believed that AQIS was largely a publicity stunt by al Qaeda to counter the growing popularity of the more radical ISIL. Indian Moslems have produced some recruits for Islamic terrorism, but not enough to produce the level of mayhem Islamic terrorists wanted. Lacking a lot of radical clergy and religious schools India has simply not produced a lot of radicalized young men willing to kill and be killed.

 


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