The Bomb That Didn't Go Off. Since September 11, 2001, we have finely honed our fear of the other. But the truth is, the overwhelming majority of our terrorism has always been homegrown. And it is times like these — times of anger and disaffection — when we turn on ourselves, and kill. [more inside]
Why Development Aid won't solve Radicalism "The data revealed four findings that undermine common wisdom about support for militancy in Pakistan...Overall, the findings suggest that arguments tying support for militancy to individuals’ socioeconomic status -- and the policy recommendations that often flow from this assumption -- require substantial revision."
"... Al Qaeda was forcing local affiliates (or at least its Iraqi one) to sustain themselves financially. If local groups must make their own money, governments and counterterror operatives can use Al Qaeda’s need to raise money - often using illicit means and pressure against local citizens - against the organization. That kind of counterterrorism would look less like war, and more like careful police work against what amounts to a criminal syndicate or mafia." [Inside Al Qaeda’s hard drives]
Gary Brecher (the "War Nerd") examines the track records of the IRA vs. Al Qaeda "It’s hard for an American to get your head around any of this, but the point, and it’s very 'counter-intuitive' as they say, is that Al Qaeda did everything wrong, spending all their assets and going for maximum kill, and the IRA, the poster-boy for long, slow, crock-pot guerrilla warfare, did it exactly right." (via) [more inside]
"After Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, the White House released a photo of President Barack Obama and his Cabinet inside the Situation Room, watching the daring raid unfold. Hidden from view, standing just outside the frame of that now-famous photograph was a career CIA analyst" - The man who hunted Osama bin Laden
"Davis didn’t have time to ponder their motives. The intersection of Jail and Ferozepur roads was packed with cars, bicycles, rickshaws, and pedestrians; the motorcycle pulled around his car and stopped just ahead of it. Shamshad, on the back of the bike, turned. He raised his pistol. He cocked it." [Black Ops and Blood Money] (previously and previouslier)
It might be instructive to ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic (after proper burial rites, of course). Uncontroversially, he is not a “suspect” but the “decider” who gave the orders to invade Iraq -- that is, to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: in Iraq, the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country and the national heritage, and the murderous sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region. Equally uncontroversially, these crimes vastly exceed anything attributed to bin Laden.There is Much More to Say by Noam Chomsky.
Details given for friendly audience about tactics, mistakes, funding and even entrepreneurial opportuneship.
"This is the retaliation for the killing of Osama bin Laden" - At least 70 Killed at military training centre in North-West Pakistan. Pakistan Taliban claim responsibility.
Kill Osama First-Person Shooter programmers at Kuma Games have been working long hours to crank out this timely, yet controversial game. "The virtual bin Laden, created over a rush of all-nighters by a team of game developers who specialize in turning current world events and military battles into playable video games, had somehow disappeared from the faithful recreation of his Pakistan compound." But the Kansas City Star asks, is this "cathartic, educational or just ghoulish?"
Guy Rundle teases out the meanings of the bin Laden assassination, in contrast to the Eichmann trial.
Current TV previously & previously, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube. [more inside]
How Britain's largest corporations helped engineer the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
Emmanuel "Toto" Constant led a paramilitary organization called FRAPH that terrorized Haiti after the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When FRAPH's fortunes declined, Toto mysteriously appeared in New York City, where he was scorned by the Haitian community. Justice eventually caught up to Toto, who is now imprisoned in New York state. [more inside]
My Student, the 'Terrorist' If this were a movie, the story might end with a triumphal courtroom scene, or an intrepid Washington Post reporter breaking the story. It might have a sentimental ending, with a conservative Muslim family and community locking arms with Christians and Jews and atheists and turning the country back to its commitment to civil rights. The government, shamed, would reform its practices. But this is not a movie, and inhumane treatment is well protected in post-9/11 America. [more inside]
The Cultural Cognition Project at Yale looks at the cause of polarizing debates such as: global warming, gun ownership, school shootings, terrorism, nanotechnology, public health, nuclear power, foreign wars and just about every heated thread in Internet history. In short, the polarizing issue is "risk"- the perception of risk, and the proposed solutions to risk. It turns out people see risk in polarizing ways according to where they stand on a scale of cultural beliefs. [more inside]
Anthrax Redux. Wired's gripping account of the FBI's investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks.
Scott Atran, has appeared previously on Metafilter. He released a book a few months ago called, Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists. Atran has spent many years studying terrorists, particularly suicide bombers. His research disputes the assertion that terrorists are primarily driven by religious belief, but instead youth culture and group dynamics. [more inside]
Employed as a Counterterrorism Analyst, But Think Your Bosses Are Misunderstanding the Problem? Quit your DoD post and write a book! Offer it for free, on the Web. Oh, and do it anonymously. Reddit AMA here.
“I want to be very frank here,” Qadhi said, his voice tight with exasperation. “Do you really, really think that blowing up a plane is Islamic? I mean, ask yourself this.” The New York Times' Andrea Elliott explores the fine line between Salafiya and contemporary American values. Multimedia slideshow. [auto-playing video] Qadhi, previously.
Cartoonist Tim Kreider (previously, previously) of The Pain talks about the last decade, our "disastrous decline" and his latest book of cartoons and essays, Twilight Of The Assholes. Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam. There aren’t nearly enough counterterrorism experts to instruct all of America’s police. So we got these guys instead.
Inside the Secret Service. Sidebars: Radio Chatter and The Presidential Motorcade (Via) [more inside]
"Uniforms have been stolen in the past for this kind of thing." An update on the investigation into the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008. (Previously)
He is one of a handful of U.S. and European scientists searching for universal patterns hidden in human conflicts — patterns that might one day allow them to predict long-term threats. Rather than study historical grievances, violent ideologies and social networks the way most counterterrorism researchers do, Aaron Clauset and his colleagues disregard the unique traits of terrorist groups and focus entirely on outcomes — the violence they commit. Call it the physics of terrorism.
12-year-old Nicky Wishart wanted to save his youth centre from being shut down due to funding cuts. This gets him questioned and tracked on Facebook by British anti-terror police.
"Latino converts to radical Islam have been connected to terrorism cases in this country with increasing frequency — and officials are trying to understand why."
A Nude Awakening - The TSA and Privacy. An insightful article about the TSA and fundamental freedoms from the Oklahoma Daily Student newspaper. via
William Gibson offers interesting perceptions of our world The insight on the connection between the perceived threat from terrorism (not his term) and the attraction of lottery tickets (about half-way down) pushed me over to post this, but the rest of it is worth your time, too.
A worshiper at a California mosque called frequently for violent jihad against the West. This freaked out his fellow attendees so much that they took out a restraining order on him... and learned he was an informant planted by the FBI.
The subject of this week's This American Life, Schenectady, NY schools facilities director Steven Raucci was tried and convicted last year on arson and weapons charges after six years in which Raucci routinely exercised his power as union head, manager and close associate of the district heads to sexually harass, threaten and intimidate coworkers, including using explosives on enemies' cars and homes. Much of the district's investigative report is redacted.
Back in May this year, British Twitter user Paul Chambers was found guilty of sending a 'menacing electronic communication'. The communication in question? A Twitter update written when stuck at an airport, saying the following: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" [more inside]
In Gitmo Opinion, Two Versions of Reality. "When Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. ordered the release of a Guantánamo Bay detainee last spring, the case appeared to be a routine setback for an Obama administration that has lost a string of such cases. But there turns out to be nothing ordinary about the habeas case brought by Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, a Yemeni held without charges for nearly eight years. Uthman, accused by two U.S. administrations of being an al-Qaida fighter and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, is among 48 detainees the Obama administration has deemed too dangerous to release but 'not feasible for prosecution.' A day after his March 16 order was filed on the court's electronic docket, Kennedy's opinion vanished. Weeks later, a new ruling appeared in its place. While it reached the same conclusion, eight pages of material had been removed, including key passages in which Kennedy dismantled the government's case against Uthman."
A mechanic noticed a strange device under the hood of a customer's car and offered to remove it for him. The customer, an Egyptian-American student named Yasir Afifi, shows his roommate, who posts pictures of it on Reddit to find out what the heck it is. Turns out it's an FBI GPS tracking device, and the agency turned up quickly demanding he give it back. The ACLU is reportedly getting involved. [more inside]
The Combating Terrorism Act (C-17) has passed second reading in Canada's House of Commons with the support of both Liberals and Conservatives. The bill would allow terrorism suspects to be jailed without trial for up to 12 months. So far it has been completely ignored by Canada's mainstream media. [more inside]
Assessing the Terrorist Threat -- Bruce Hoffman and Peter Bergen describe how Al Qaida has evolved since the attacks in 2001, including the development of domestic USA networks and the increasingly diverse and decentralized nature of terrorism. Homeland Security and local law enforcement are not keeping up with the changes. [more inside]
This is an open letter written by Noman Benotman, a former commander in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and a former associate of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In al Qaeda strategy meetings in Kandahar in 2000, Benotman warned the al-Qaeda leadership of ‘total failure' to realise their aims and called on bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to abandon violence. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, he distanced himself from al-Qaeda and later resigned from his own jihadist organisation. He has more recently been instrumental in negotiations with Libya's government to free former LIFG leaders, and in persuading these leaders to formally renounce terrorism. He also recently joined the London-based Quilliam Foundation as a Senior Analyst.
"Is this thought experiment monstrous? Would it be monstrous to refer to the 40,000-plus domestic highway deaths we accept each year because the mobility and autonomy of the car are evidently worth that high price?" In 2007 David Foster Wallace invited readers to a series of thought experiments in a short piece. [more inside]
Earlier this week, the Mounties arrested Khurram Sher along with two other Ottawa men and charged them with terrorism related offences. This is where it gets complicated… [more inside]
“No, no. Academia is now part of the real world. Everything goes.” Just before dawn, on August 24, 1970, Dwight and Karl Armstrong, Leo Burt, and David Fine parked a van outside Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin. The van was filled with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, and when it blew, it killed Robert Fassnacht, a young physicist working through the night. The Army Mathematics Research Center, the bombing's target, was untouched. The bombers, known as the "New Year's Gang," went underground, and enthusiasm for the radical movement in Madison was permanently dampened. The University of Wisconsin collection of transcribed interviews about the Sterling Hall Bombing. [more inside]