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Al-Queda's Endgame?
November 8, 2001 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Al-Queda's Endgame? This report from Decision Support Systems, inc. supports the "Al-Qaida has successfully laid a trap for the United States" model. More inside. (found at Linkwatcher)
posted by ferris (40 comments total)

 
Anybody know anything about DSSi? Apparently it's an "information technology (IT) provider" affiliated with KnowledgeStorm which is affiliated with Oracle, but I couldn't find any other references.

Their conclusions:
The ‘network of networks’ known as Al-Qaida has successfully laid a trap for the United States. Al-Qaida retains the initiative and the U.S. is operating ‘inside the intentions and plans’ of Al-Qaida
Al-Qaida cannot destroy the U.S. forces inside the U.S., nor can it convince the U.S. to leave the Middle East using terror attacks. The intention of the terror attacks is a provocation to force the U.S. to engage and deploy forces to the Middle East, where such forces could be destroyed
The intention and purpose of Al-Qaida’s plans are either to make the Middle East ‘ungovernable,’ or to gain control of the petroleum production system in the region. Application of the ‘oil weapon’ could be used to attempt to force withdrawal of U.S. presence in the region; outright destruction of the petroleum production system would leave the U.S. with no or greatly reduced real interests in the region
Control or destruction of the petroleum production system in the Middle East, and the potential for attacks on global petroleum production, would transform the political situation in the region, initiate a global depression by degrading or destroying critical industries of developing and advanced Nation-States, and drastically shift the geopolitical balance

posted by ferris at 8:04 AM on November 8, 2001


Got it! They destroy the oil production. That causes world-wide total depression. And then all becomes ok again? Or, they destroy oil production in Gulf States and the rulers topple and then the countries there prosper without anyone to sell their one great product to? Or, they get us out of Saudi Arabia and we must go elsewhere to make up the 18% of oil we get from that country, using perhaps the piples we will be putting into Afghanistan; and that leaves them happy to have us out and no one to buy oil and so they can concentrate on their new big selling item--which is?
posted by Postroad at 8:12 AM on November 8, 2001


ferris, I think there are several DSSis. The one in KnowledgeStorm is Data Systems & Support, Inc. This one is Decision Support Systems, Inc. and looks like a business intelligence group. They look at political and economic events and try to forecast the outcomes for interested stakeholders. This "free" intelligence report is likely to be a PR exercise, but nevertheless they still have some interesting things to say. Thanks for the link!
posted by dlewis at 8:27 AM on November 8, 2001


I re-checked that KnowledgeStorm page - Decision Support Systems, inc is the fifth entry on the list there.
posted by ferris at 8:54 AM on November 8, 2001


If we are so incredibly "resourceful" (as the report puts it), then why is our response so utterly predictable?
posted by BentPenguin at 9:56 AM on November 8, 2001


From the article:

The U.S. has created ‘brand bin Laden’ by its own statements and actions—bin Laden is now seen as having parity with the U.S. (requiring great effort just to locate and capture/kill him), representing much of the opinion of radical and grassroots Islam, and inspiring future generations of terrorists. While difficult and costly, ungovernability is a long-term strategy that still leaves room for the U.S. to absorb the costs and continually attempt re-entry into the region. Rumors, if true, regarding bin Laden’s ill health (kidney difficulties) may put additional pressure on his planning and timeline—not ‘good news,’ since it means dramatic terrorist actions.
posted by cell divide at 11:08 AM on November 8, 2001


Postroad it always has been and always will be "DRUGS"
posted by timetostepback at 11:21 AM on November 8, 2001


This is an interesting analysis. I don't completely agree with it but it is far from fatuous.

The central contention is that we are doing exactly what al Qaeda expectes us to do, with some sort of implication that we're falling into a trap. I'm not sure I believe that. For one thing, there's good reason to believe that what al Qaeda expected from us was something similar to what happened in Somalia, where we got a bloody nose and ran home to cry about it.

I'm also not sure I grant that the planning by al Qaeda is this deep. I honestly don't think they're this sophisticated.

I'm still reading it and I intend to write a long discussion about it on my own web site later.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:36 AM on November 8, 2001


I honestly don't think they're this sophisticated.

Steven, why would they not be sophisticated in their planning? It seems that that's all they've got as an outlet for their hatred.. they certainly don't have much else to do but think of plots and scenarios.

However the best plans are foiled routinely, and most of their thinking about the United States seems to be fairly immature, assuming that the US isn't going to be even more clever than they are. While they may think 2 steps ahead, the Pentagon has presumably dozens of teams thinking 4 steps ahead of that.

An interesting thing about 'the plan' that the article points out is that for the Al-Qaeda Plot to succeed, it must pick up support and adherants along the way. This is the avenue that the United States must be careful to block, even as the US pursues its military objectives.
posted by cell divide at 11:57 AM on November 8, 2001


I don't think we should forget that our new best friend Russia has a place called Siberia that has an assload of oil under it (estimates of western Siberian oilfields now under development - a small percentage of the total - are at least 150B barrels still in the ground, more than 3 times the total amount that has yet been extracted) and let's not forget some rather juicy fields in Alaska we've been arguing about for the last couple years. Combine that with some renewed emphasis on conservation and alternatives, and we could tell Arab Oil to take a proverbial flying you-know-what at the proverbial rolling doughnut.

The more I hear about Al-Qaeda's grand plans, the less I worry about the fate of the US.
posted by UncleFes at 1:03 PM on November 8, 2001


Anyone read Dune?
posted by stbalbach at 2:21 PM on November 8, 2001


Uncle, I don't think the issue at this point is not having enough oil, it's that the extraction costs are much lower in the Gulf, meaning the price of oil stays low around the world as long as a certain percentage of world oil comes from that region.
posted by cell divide at 2:23 PM on November 8, 2001


Anyone read Dune?

Yes, but bin Laden is a far cry from Paul Atriedes. Atriedes' abilities of precognition were preternatural and he defeated what was essentially a distant outpost government that had no immediately available military backup (which is amazing considering the fact that Dune was essentially the legal drug capital of the Universe). The only real similarity is that bin Laden is hiding in caves.

I think that this report immensely underestimates the ability of the US in the same way that bin Laden does.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:32 PM on November 8, 2001


I'm with Steven and cell divide, mostly. I think al-Qaida does do scenario planning, but I'm quite sure that they are ... disappointed at the reaction of the Islamic world so far. Though the Arab League's pronouncement last week that bin Laden "does not speak for all Muslims" and is in "his own war with the world" allows him to claim that those governments are Western vassals, the league is known for cheap political sop statements against Israel, so that was probably a sharp slap in the face. I'm not sure he expected how quickly Pakistan would cave to US pressure. I doubt he expected the Central Asian republics to suddenly turn up as hole cards in the US hand.

At the same time, while I do believe that the US has a small army of experts running war games and scenarios faster than you can say "Civ III", I'm not 100% confident that all these experts are being consistently listened to. I hope that the recent adjustments in the arc of the campaign indicate a long-term plan, rather than the lack of one, or worse -- disagreements within over which long-term plan we should be following. But in any case we have considerably more cards to play yet.

I doubt that bin Laden can be said, at this juncture, to have Napoleon's knack for "making the enemy attack where I want him". He's certainly skilled at running guerrilla campaigns, at developing a sophisticated terror network, and at forging coalitions among disparate nutcase groups. But he hasn't really waged a campaign where he's been the direct target, so we can't say how good he'll be at it. Is this his Moscow, or his Waterloo? Napoleon only knew how to escalate, how to bring the battle to the other guy, even when that wasn't the smart thing to do in the long run; and that was his downfall.

Oh, and as for Dune: I haven't seen any evidence that al-Qaeda has sandworms. I do lay awake some nights wondering whether they have stoneburners, though.
posted by dhartung at 2:52 PM on November 8, 2001


meaning the price of oil stays low around the world as long as a certain percentage of world oil comes from that region.

Absolutely true - the logistics and subsequent cost of getting oil out of Siberia are terrible. BUT... there are costs with getting oil from the middle east that have nothing to do with dollars, I think.

My thought was that, if the cost of getting oil from the middle east becomes too much (both in dollars and "other"), there are alternatives. Personally, I think we should have been on Russia like stink on a monkey the second day after the Wall fell. Siberia is a huge place (11 times zones, anyone?) chock full of all kinds of good stuff. If America had applied its technical know-how against that storehouse of wealth in '89, there might be significantly less problems in the middle east today.
posted by UncleFes at 2:55 PM on November 8, 2001


And significantly less problems in Russia, for that matter.
posted by UncleFes at 2:55 PM on November 8, 2001


However the best plans are foiled routinely, and most of their thinking about the United States seems to be fairly immature, assuming that the US isn't going to be even more clever than they are.

Al Queda is/are dellusional, beginning with the dellusion that the Almighty is on their side and sanctions killing people for their purposes. Given them credit, but not that much.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:08 PM on November 8, 2001


Got it! They destroy the oil production. That causes world-wide total depression. And then all becomes ok again?

Actually, if they destroyed oil production, the rebuilding would be on terms significantly more favorable to the West: no more OPEC; no more corrupt, oil-funded Muslim world. Which only proves what dellusional a-holes they are.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:10 PM on November 8, 2001


Hmm. Now if only those pesky Russians could figure out that "rule of law" thing.

Has anybody learned anything about the reliablity of DSSi? Sure a lot more convincing than Michael Chossudovsky .
posted by skyscraper at 3:19 PM on November 8, 2001


our new best friend Russia

New/best - exactly, a contradiction in terms. Although I agree absolutely with UncleFes's long-standing contention that eschewing Arab Oil completely and taking conservation seriously is the key to lasting peace(or at least quiet, that much underrated condition)for the West, I still would prefer not trusting the Russians just yet. They're slyly trading less aggravation about Chechenya for cooperation in this conflict.
Until we sort out self-sufficiency I'd still prefer dealing with the African countries. They may be corrupt but they're culturally closer to us - and they have a sense of humour.
The Russian Orthodox Church is notoriously anti-Muslim and anti-semitic. They don't like other Christians much either. So I'd be wary, fwiw.

Otherwise The more I hear about Al-Qaeda's grand plans, the less I worry about the fate of the US. just about says it all. Talk about close focus!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:26 PM on November 8, 2001


I think my main objection to this analysis is that it is essentially humanistic and mechanistic. That's how a westerner thinks.

It doesn't reflect the kind of world view that a religious fundamentalist has; those who made this attack have a much more idealistic and polarized view of the world.

I don't think they attacked us because of deep Machiavellian plotting, I think they attacked us because they hate us and we're the Great Satan.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:37 PM on November 8, 2001


(places drape over mirror) "look, over there."
posted by clavdivs at 5:20 PM on November 8, 2001


I don't think they attacked us because of deep Machiavellian plotting, I think they attacked us because they hate us and we're the Great Satan.

No one attacks because of a plot, the plot is the weapon to attack someone you hate and think is the Great Satan.

It seems foolish to me to assume that these groups, which require large amounts of subterfuge even to exist, would not have plots and plans that involve multiple scenarios. They may not present them in PowerPoint, but it seems that they must have the skill to anticipate various responses to their actions.
posted by cell divide at 5:36 PM on November 8, 2001


I still would prefer not trusting the Russians just yet.

One of my colleagues is a Russophile, and visits Russia and the Ukraine about twice yearly. Even during the height of the cold war, he claims that while our governments opposed each other, the Russian people considered America both friends and allies (against the Germans in WWII). Never once (he says) has he ever felt uncomfortable or hated; in fact, typically when it is found out he is American, he can hardly buy a drink or get out without having his hand near to shook off or getting mobbed by babushkas, pressing him with meat pies.

Point being, better to have a devil for a friend and try to make an angel of him, than have a devil for an enemy who has something you desperately need.
posted by UncleFes at 8:43 PM on November 8, 2001


"pressing him with meat pies" beautiful, right next to sugar plums.
posted by clavdivs at 6:03 AM on November 9, 2001


bin Laden's not concerned with oil. We're concerned with oil. Do you think we'd still be attacking Afghanistan if the US had stockpiled all the oil it needs for the next 20 years? Or if there wasn't an oil route from the Caspian Sea travelling through Afghanistan?

That's why I think the article is quite good: it states the *unstated* motives in this war as well as the oft-stated ones. bin Laden wants to create instability and a crusades-style war between Moslems and the infidel; allied nations such as the US, UK (and even China and Russia) want to protect their oil supplies.
posted by skylar at 7:17 AM on November 9, 2001


Skylar, I think we'd be attacking even if we had enough oil for 20 years. This isn't about oil, conspiracy theories not withstanding. This is about protecting American cities from future bombing attacks. (Why is that so difficult to understand?)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:18 AM on November 9, 2001


ParisParamus: you wrote:
"Al Qaeda is/are delusional, beginning with the delusion that the Almighty is on their side and sanctions killing people for their purposes."

And this differs from George Bush's own beliefs how exactly?
posted by skylar at 7:20 AM on November 9, 2001


Steven Den Beste (this is becoming a busy posting day, isn't it!)

I agree that retaliation for September 11 is one of the obvious reasons for attacking Afghanistan- that's what I'd call an oft-stated reason. But there are unspoken motives as well. Just because George and Tony don't say they're protecting the oil economy doesn't mean that they're not.

The ongoing bombing, the use of daisy-cutters etc etc: this is not about protecting American cities from future bombing attacks. If that logic was correct, If you want to protect American cities, start in America. Find the terrorists at home, increase home security... or build a laser-defence shield. But don't bomb another country. All that will do is encourage a future generation of America-hating terrorists.
posted by skylar at 7:42 AM on November 9, 2001


Skylar, there is no such thing as a perfect defense. A better way to prevent attacks is to find and annihilate those who would launch them.

A good defensive strategy doesn't rely on any single approach. we're doing most f the things you're describing. But seeking out the enemy and taking the battle to him is also necessary.

"All that will do is encourage a future generation of America-hating terrorists." That's worthy to be in a fortune cookie. But it's not worthy to be the basis of foreign policy. It sounds good but it's a crock.

If it were correct, then we wouldn't have been attacked in the first place -- because we were not bombing Afgnanistan at the time that al Qaeda attacked the WTC towers.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:02 AM on November 9, 2001


Look to Northern Ireland for evidence. The UK's military occupation of N. Ireland, the guns, the army bases in cities, the walls, the physical retribution from Loyalists against suspected terrorists... in thirty years did any of that do anything to stop the IRA bombing cities throughout the United Kingdom? What if London had bombed Belfast? Would that have made the children of IRA members believe that their parents' struggle is wrong? Would that have ended the terrorist urge? No, it would have increased it. We see almost exactly the same story between Israel and Palestine.

There is nothing that will ever stop terrorism outright. But we can learn from Ireland and Palestine that talk, diplomacy - peaceful means - are the only ways to bring about some semblance of peace. Bombs do not end terrorism.
posted by skylar at 10:17 AM on November 9, 2001


And this differs from George Bush's own beliefs how exactly?

nice troll.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:22 AM on November 9, 2001


No, it was a serious question. I don't think it's fair to criticise others for claiming they have God on their side. This isn't neccessarily delusional, it's something that most leaders do, especially in times of war. And it's something George Bush has been doing of late - in fact he's been claiming that the war against Afghanistan is in fact a battle to save civilisation itself.
posted by skylar at 4:49 PM on November 9, 2001


There is no ability to "prove" that OBL is not acting in an immoral way. If you like the Taliban/OBL on "civilization," then I suppose we are not saving civilization.

What's most disappointing about your comment is the moral equivalency it implies.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:59 PM on November 9, 2001


Hasn't anybody noticed, DSSI's oration said nothing about HOW they intend to destroy our forces, once they are operating inside Afghanistan.

They just said they will be destroyed. DSSI is not the enemy; it would be reasonable to have expected them to explain why the Taliban could destroy our forces. If bin Laden figures he can destroy our forces on his ground, how does he plan to do that?

I think this points to a general weakness of their whole rationale.

Then again, maybe I missed something, but I think not.

Norm
posted by norm1153 at 12:14 AM on November 10, 2001


ParisParasmus: Moral equivalency? Exactly - I have no respect for bin Laden or the Taliban and also no respect for George W. Bush. For different reasons, of course.
posted by skylar at 12:58 AM on November 10, 2001


Well I DO respect George W. Bush.

'Bout time someone who does, steps up and says so.

I'm getting tired of all you fruitcakes! The farther we get from 9/11 the more you liberal assholes are starting up again.

I mean REALLY Tired. Take your Anti-american crap and shove it right up your wrinkly ass!

Frankly I don't give a damn what smart-ass prose you come up with in response. I'll say it again, shove it up your arse!
posted by norm1153 at 2:40 AM on November 10, 2001


Normy came home drunk again last night.
posted by crasspastor at 2:43 AM on November 10, 2001


I don't think it's fair to criticise others for claiming they have God on their side.
Gott Mit Uns
posted by matteo at 7:38 AM on November 10, 2001


and if they do claim to God on their side, so what? If God is not on their side, screw them. Anyhow, does claiming so somehow preclude able people from joining their cause? As mentioned above, they easily could be planning far reaching havoc, both in distance and time, it does not follow that a "smart" person would automatically reject such a cause.

Of course there could be unnamed motives, even if it started strictly as retaliation, after we succeed, what do we do with the territory, the reputation, the hegemony we have?

Just as we assume, mostly, that we'll win, they also planned on winning, on smacking our "soft" troops around. There're probably contingency plans, of course, but in order for the plan to succeed, it has to succeed. 'Nuf said.

Also Ireland is different. Rule from a foreign, racist, abusive gov't. Conquest, exploitation, displacement, for centuries, and in recent history too. In Afghanistan, we are fighting their oppressors, at least of some of the people. It may sound like a noble cause we deemed ourselves, but look at the news, look at the reaction, look at our indigenous allies, and it is true.
posted by firestorm at 2:48 PM on November 15, 2001


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