Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Al Qaeda Does Not Exist

11 July 2007

Believe me, I am not smart enough to bring forward the assertion indicated by the title of the present entry independently.

But I am a subscriber to the
Stratfor Intelligence Service, and these people will tell you what is really happening in the world – behind – and around – the news headlines.

Take my word for it, what the news items tell us and what our politicians tell us is not what is actually happening.

The official version of global news is not necessarily intentionally false, but it is so superficial as to be drastically misleading.

And misleading interpretations of news events are ultimately just what this particular adjective implies – they lead us to the wrong place in terms of understanding the causation, implications of, and appropriate responses to disruptive world events.

Today’s Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence Report, entitled “
The Many Faces of al Qaeda,” was probably the last straw for me. The primary argument and the conclusion are so persuasive as to be difficult to dismiss.

What is the author suggesting?

(1) The morally degenerate and reprehensible but tightly knit group of conspirators who masterminded the unspeakable September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in the United States (not to meniton the equally deplorable African embassy and Saudi residence attacks, harming dozens or hundreds of their fellow Muslims in each attack), is no longer functional. The original group has degraded due to attrition and to the requirements of their own pact of secrecy.

(2) Al Qaeda per se is no longer capable of mounting a large-scale terrorist attack on a western target.

(3) The mythic al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Afghanistan were, by and large, teaching basic and/or amateurish terror skills to junior-grade initiates, though no doubt with broad-scale genocidal intent.

(4) However, al Qaeda is a wonderful franchise for petty terrorists and common-to-garden evildoers around the world who wish to affiliate themselves with the broad idea of global Islamic terror. That is, Al Qaeda has become to terrorists what Starbucks is to independent businesspeople – a vehicle enabling almost anyone anywhere to set up shop in a particular region or community, in this case, to launch whatever terrorist attack of any type that their twisted minds can imagine.

(5) Perhaps most disturbing, the “Al Qaeda” name has also become a franchise for those in the west (regrettably, mostly in the United States) who represent the interests of the post-World War II military industrial complex. These individuals wish to promote their own agenda of problem-solving by means of military expansion and force rather than by the usually more practicable and effective means of negotiation, compromise and, where necessary, confrontation.

It can be argued that the US military industrial complex, against which Eisenhower warned us in the 1950s, has caused as much if not more suffering and grief both in North America and around the world, than have its combined and often self-styled adversaries, for example, the Russian, Chinese and Cuban communists, Latin American socialists, Islamic dictators, and now, al Qaeda terrorists.

The gravest of all policy errors is for the executive and legislative branches of the US government to succumb to the policy recommendations of the military industrial complex, and in the case of the Bush administration, the disastrous and premeditated decisions which led the west into the Iraq quagmire were spearheaded by the devastatingly misguided Project for the New American Century, many of whose members constitute the core cabal around President Bush.

I was sparked to write today’s entry by the stark contrast between today’s Stratfor release and the following news headline: “
U.S. says al Qaeda will "lash out" in Iraq.”

Please allow me to quote from the article, redolent of George Orwell’s 1984:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military expects al Qaeda in Iraq to strike back with "spectacular attacks" after major U.S.-led offensives that have disrupted its activities, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

Brigadier-General Kevin Bergner said 26 leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq had been killed or captured in operations in May and June across the country.

"Over the past two months our collective efforts against the al Qaeda leadership have begun to disrupt their networks and safe havens," Bergner told a news conference.

"We fully expect al Qaeda in Iraq operatives to lash out and stage spectacular attacks to reassert themselves."

If we are to take the Stratfor analyst at his word – and I am far more inclined to trust Stratfor’s people than those representing the US military – the US military spokesman (read spin doctor) is proposing that the United States prepare itself to respond to the retaliatory strikes of a mythical enemy that in fact does not exist.

Are there terrorists in Iraq? Without a doubt, and certainly a thousandfold more now than ever existed there prior to the US military intervention. Are these terrorists linked to a multi-headed international hydra united under the rubric of al Qaeda? It appears now, not at all. There is no such internationally organized terrorist organization.

We are fighting a ragtag band of angry young men in Iraq who are practising guerrilla warfare and terrorism under the highly marketable (but fundamentally valueless) al Qaeda franchise.

Terrorism in Iraq and around the world is now an increasing reality, and much of its growth is a testimony to the success of the original al Qaeda strategy – but al Qaeda as an international terrorist organization driving the growth of international Islamic terrorism doesn't in fact exist at all.

Al Qaeda is a convenient myth for tin pot terrorists and US military merchants of death. We will be better off to talk about the world as it is, rather than as we imagine it to be.

Note (30 August 2008): A combination of the US troop surge and disastrous tactics on the part of Iraqi insurgents seem now to have turned the tide in the Iraq War in favour of stabilization. I admit that I was unprepared for this turn of events, but it is very pleasing now to report that my earlier pessimism appears to have been incompletely founded. Thanks to Michael Yon for being one of the first to report the favourable news - independently - from the front lines!


  1. Terrorism is the cliche of the 21st Century. But terrorism is how humans practiced warfare since the first time we organized into tribes.

    The Saxons invading Britons shores engaged in acts of warfare or terrorism. The US Military massacring Indians at Sand Creek were engaged in acts of terrorism in the war against the Indians.

    Terrorism is what our enemies do, when we do it we call it warfare.

    Al Qaeda is a great scapegoat for the U.S. to use to terrorize Americans into agreeing to whatever military agression the administration prefers.

  2. I do not disagree entirely with your remarks, particularly that Al Qaeda is a scapegoat, though this vehicle is utilized not by "the US" in broad brushstrokes, but by the Bush administration specifically. The al Qaeda name is convenient to use when the intention is to stir up fear in the populace.

    However, I fear that you lose more than you gain by blurring the distinction between warfare and terrorism.

    Warfare is certainly both cruel and broadly ineffective, for the simple reason that the use of force engenders a retaliatory response among the previously uninvolved, as well as degrading its perpetrators, should they emerge victorious.

    But terrorism remains something different than warfare. While warfare is often wrong, damaging and stupid, terrorism is always and everywhere evil, reprehensible and indefensible.

    Throughout history, there have been situations – though perhaps limited – where engagement in warfare could be justified for legitimate moral reasons, and that can be seen clearly in our response to the Nazis during WW II, as one example.

    There is never under any circumstances grounds for engagement in terrorism. It is always immoral and unacceptable, regardless of who practices it.

    Terrorism is a needless attack on uninvolved civilians with the intent of striking fear into a population by causing serious injury and death to victims who are not engaged in combat – in fact who are most often innocent bystanders.

    Terrorism always targets non-combatants, and it achieves no defensible political or military objective.

    Yes, war is hell, there can be no doubt. But terrorism is not war – it is the intentional and gratuitous use of violence to harm civilian non-combatants.

    War is usually wrong and can only rarely be defended.

    Terrorism can never be defended.

    Has "our side" practised terrorism as well as warfare?

    Yes we have.

    Have Islamic extremists practiced warfare as well as terrorism?

    Yes they have.

    Neither we not they can justify the use of terrorism.

    The present situation is atypical in our experience in the western nations.

    There is presently a large-scale Islamic movement actively advocating genocide and terrorism against western peoples. We are not accustomed ourselves to being the targets of a genocidal movement.

    I will go so far as to acknowledge that the western nations have more often perpetrated genocide than been its victims. Thus, the present situation is new for us, at least in recent history (many early American settlers were targets of genocidal movements, and this fact places a particular twist in American history, a fact probably driving America's over-reaction to Islamic extremism today).

    However, we have no less grounds to oppose genocide and terror when we are the victims than when those we recognize as vulnerable minorities are the victims. And we should oppose genocide which targets ourselves as vigorously as we oppose genocide when it is perpetrated in the former Yugoslavia (in that case against Muslims, by the way) or in Uganda, Rwanda or Darfur.

    Further, however, we must be smart and strategic in responding when we ourselves are the intended targets of terror. Lashing out in frightened response is rarely wise or effective. For the most part, we should leave the Muslim world to Muslims to work out their own conflicts, and our responses should be targeted and self-protective. The longer we extend our stay in a region where we are misunderstood and unwelcome, the more our own purpose is thwarted.

    It is wise to oppose terrorists. It is unwise to create them.