Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pakistan and terror

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- The Indian government accused Pakistan's military spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence, of planning the July 11 Mumbai train bombings that killed 209 people.

The claims were swiftly denied and denounced by Pakistan, which also repeated its condemnation of what a government spokesman said was a "barbaric attack."

"We have solved this case," Indian Police Commisioner A.N. Roy said at a news conference Saturday.

Roy said the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a banned terrorist group from Pakistan, and the Students Islamic Movement of India were part of the planning and carried out the attacks.

"The entire episode was done on behalf of ISI," he said.

Friday, September 29, 2006

copy editor's more bipartisan headline for this rant

Through the miracle of "Tailrank", I drifted into the blogosphere to see reactions from Bob Woodward's latest. Now, nothing in Woodward's work, as it has been reported, seems all that surprising to me. However, I thought with this latest intonation of woe and peril there might be a reaction worth noting. At what point will the partisan bickering break down into real analysis of the situation? I guess I assumed we would approach that point -- that such a point might actually be close.

I was disappointed.

This latest news is broken down in the familiarly vapid mode of many blogs. The Prime example is Popinjay:
Just in time for the fall elections, Bob Woodward is out with his latest hit-piece on the Bush Administration called State of Denial. His big revelations include Henry Kissinger serving as an advisor to the administration and President Bush's determination not to withdraw prematurely from Iraq "even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting him."

No word if there are any death-bed confessionals in the book. I was expecting maybe to hear what Zarqawi's last words were before the bomb hit or something along those lines. Do you suppose he said, "I believe"?
Woodward's book is a "hit piece". There is no actual analysis of the state-of-affairs in Iraq as compared to what Bush says it is. No. His reaction is to quip.

I appreciate irony. In this case, I wanted to vomit. Here are my comments, which I am rather proud of:
"Popinjay"? Even your posting name is irony performing a double-back flip.

Cheese and Rice.

How on earth can you support this president at this point? All you have here are snippy retorts to a text you have not read. Bravo! Do you actually feel intelligent?

Have you read Kissinger's Op Ed from 8/2005? He states we need progress against the insurgency. Have you read reports on Devlin's accounting of al Anbar? He says we've lost or are losing to the insurgency. Have you read reactions from Colonel MacFarland of the 1st AD and others, including Devlin's boss? [aside: I wonder if a member of the "fighting keyboards" will figure out what 1AD means?] They say the report is accurate but we are not going to beat the insurgency. That is left for the Iraqis we are training.

The Shiite dominated Iraqis...

Oh, good plan.

Popinjay. I am still trying to come to terms with that name.
Kissinger concluded an Op Ed in summer 2005 with this:
The ultimate test of progress will therefore be the extent to which the Iraqi armed forces reflect -- at least to some degree -- the ethnic diversity of the country and are accepted by the population at large as an expression of the nation. Drawing Sunni leaders into the political process is an important part of an anti-insurgent strategy. Failing that, the process of building security forces may become the prelude to a civil war.

Can a genuine nation emerge in Iraq through constitutional means?

The answer to that question will determine whether Iraq becomes a signpost for a reformed Middle East or the pit of an ever-spreading conflict. For these reasons, a withdrawal schedule should be accompanied by some political initiative inviting an international framework for Iraq's future. Some of our allies may prefer to act as bystanders, but reality will not permit this for their own safety. Their cooperation is needed, not so much for the military as for the political task, which will test, above all, the West's statesmanship in shaping a global system relevant to its necessities.
Few if any of the broad points that Kissinger cites as reasonable goals have been realized. He lauds "Vietnamization", which has gained a great deal of cachet among conservative revisionists. If the policy was on the verge of success, why did the South buckle so swiftly when we withdrew support? Some success.

Sound policy and its effects (benefits... Sun Tzu) don't matter to the conservative theoretical elite. What does matter is back-explaining why you were correct and how you can now be more correct. Sunsequent back-explanations will be needed...

We waged war in Vietnam under the strategic rubric of "Domino theory". It was a major error in decision making. Now, we are once again in our own decision-cycle replaying an old war's rubric in a very different conflict. True "Iraqization" of that state would require, perhaps, 25 to 50 years (a guess, I freely admit). We pursue "Iraqization" on the cheap -- though the expense we have paid in treasure and more importantly blood has been tragic and extreme. Colonel Devlin says we have lost al Anbar politically. Do we expect Shiite army formations to retake that area any time soon? Why would they, even if they had the gumption? It's 1.) not Shiite and 2.) devoid of the resources in the Shiite/Kurd areas of the country. These are our Iraqized counterinsurgents.

This is policy rendered on scant political capital and buzz words. It is sobering to say the least.

State of denial: Iraq is "dire"

A reporter for the New York Times obtained a copy of Bob Woodward's latest book, scheduled for release on Monday, by buying it at a book store.

The Times reports (my emphasis):
WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 — The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.

The warning is described in “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.

As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as disengaged from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq — a task that was initially supposed to be under the direction of the Pentagon — and so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls. The American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, is reported to have told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that “Rumsfeld doesn’t have any credibility anymore” to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq.


It says that Mr. Blackwill and L. Paul Bremer III, then the top American official in Iraq, later briefed Ms. Rice and Stephen J. Hadley, her deputy, about the pressing need for more troops during a secure teleconference from Iraq. It says the White House did nothing in response.

The book describes a deep fissure between Colin L. Powell, Mr. Bush’s first secretary of state, and Mr. Rumsfeld: When Mr. Powell was eased out after the 2004 elections, he told Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, that “if I go, Don should go,” referring to Mr. Rumsfeld.

Mr. Card then made a concerted effort to oust Mr. Rumsfeld at the end of 2005, according to the book, but was overruled by President Bush, who feared that it would disrupt the coming Iraqi elections and operations at the Pentagon.

Vice President Cheney is described as a man so determined to find proof that his claim about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was accurate that, in the summer of 2003, his aides were calling the chief weapons inspector, David Kay, with specific satellite coordinates as the sites of possible caches. None resulted in any finds.


The 537-page book describes tensions among senior officials from the very beginning of the administration. Mr. Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda.

On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously.

In the weeks before the Iraq war began, President Bush’s parents did not share his confidence that the invasion of Iraq was the right step, the book recounts. Mr. Woodward writes about a private exchange in January 2003 between Mr. Bush’s mother, Barbara Bush, the former first lady, and David L. Boren, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a Bush family friend.

The book says Mrs. Bush asked Mr. Boren whether it was right to be worried about a possible invasion of Iraq, and then to have confided that the president’s father, former President George H. W. Bush, “is certainly worried and is losing sleep over it; he’s up at night worried.”

The book describes an exchange in early 2003 between Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the retired officer Mr. Bush appointed to administer postwar Iraq, and President Bush and others in the White House situation room. It describes senior war planners as having been thoroughly uninterested in the details of the postwar mission.

After General Garner finished his PowerPoint presentation — which included his plan to use up to 300,000 troops of the Iraqi Army to help secure postwar Iraq, the book says — there were no questions from anyone in the situation room, and the president gave him a rousing sendoff.

But it was General Garner who was soon removed, in favor of Mr. Bremer, whose actions in dismantling the Iraqi army and removing Baathists from office were eventually disparaged within the government.


Mr. Rumsfeld reached into political matters at the periphery of his responsibilities, according to the book. At one point, Mr. Bush traveled to Ohio, where the Abrams battle tank was manufactured. Mr. Rumsfeld phoned Mr. Card to complain that Mr. Bush should not have made the visit because Mr. Rumsfeld thought the heavy tank was incompatible with his vision of a light and fast military of the future. Mr. Woodward wrote that Mr. Card believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was “out of control.”

The fruitless search for unconventional weapons caused tension between Vice President Cheney’s office, the C.I.A. and officials in Iraq. Mr. Woodward wrote that Mr. Kay, the chief weapons inspector in Iraq, e-mailed top C.I.A. officials directly in the summer of 2003 with his most important early findings.

At one point, when Mr. Kay warned that it was possible the Iraqis might have had the capability to make such weapons but did not actually produce them, waiting instead until they were needed, the book says he was told by John McLaughlin, the C.I.A.’s deputy director: “Don’t tell anyone this. This could be upsetting. Be very careful. We can’t let this out until we’re sure.”

Mr. Cheney was involved in the details of the hunt for illicit weapons, the book says. One night, Mr. Woodward wrote, Mr. Kay was awakened at 3 a.m. by an aide who told him Mr. Cheney’s office was on the phone. It says Mr. Kay was told that Mr. Cheney wanted to make sure he had read a highly classified communications intercept picked up from Syria indicating a possible location for chemical weapons.
The Washington Post has these additional details:
Last May, Woodward writes, the intelligence division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff circulated a secret intelligence estimate predicting that violence will not only continue for the rest of this year in Iraq but increase in 2007.

"Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year," said the report, which was distributed to the White House, State Department and other intelligence agencies.

The report presented a similarly bleak assessment of oil production, electricity generation and the political situation in Iraq.

"Threats of Shia ascendancy could harden and expand Shia militant opposition and increase calls for coalition withdrawal," the report said.

Woodward writes that Rice and Rumsfeld have been warned repeatedly about the deteriorating situation in Iraq.
CNN has a recap of Bush's link to Kissinger.

In August of 2005, Henry Kissinger authored a lengthy Op Ed in the Washington Post:
In essence, the Iraq war is a contest over which side's assessment turns out to be correct. The insurgents are betting that by exacting a toll among supporters of the government and collaborators with America, they can frighten an increasing number of civilians into, at a minimum, staying on the sidelines, thereby undermining the government and helping the insurgents by default. The Iraqi government and the United States are counting on a different kind of attrition: that possibly the insurgents' concentration on civilian carnage is due to the relatively small number of insurgents, which obliges them to conserve manpower and to shrink from attacking hard targets; hence, the insurgency can gradually be worn down.

Because of the axiom that guerrillas win if they do not lose, stalemate is unacceptable. American strategy, including a withdrawal process, will stand or fall not on whether it maintains the existing security situation but on whether the capacity to improve it is enhanced. Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy.
The fact that we do not have enough forces to accomplish this goal does not seem to bother these martial masters.

The Guardian:
Senior military officers have been pressing the government to withdraw British troops from Iraq and concentrate on what they now regard as a more worthwhile and winnable battleground in Afghanistan.

They believe there is a limit to what British soldiers can achieve in southern Iraq and that it is time the Iraqis took responsibility for their own security, defence sources say. Pressure from military chiefs for an early and significant cut in the 7,500 British troops in Iraq is also motivated by extreme pressure being placed on soldiers and those responsible for training them.

"What is more important, Afghanistan or Iraq?" a senior defence source asked yesterday. "There is a group within the Ministry of Defence pushing hard to get troops out of Iraq to get more into Afghanistan."
If the British are willing to press Afghanistan, which is in an earlier stage of Maoistic insurgency, with 7500 troops, they should be encouraged!

The Guardian:
The former foreign secretary Jack Straw has described the situation in Iraq as "dire", blaming mistakes made by the US for the escalating crisis.

Mr Straw - now the leader of the Commons - was foreign secretary at the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and staunchly backed Tony Blair's decision to join the operation.

"The current situation is dire," he said on BBC1's Question Time last night. "I think many mistakes were made after the military action - there is no question about it - by the United States administration.

"Why? Because they failed to follow the lead of secretary [of state Colin] Powell. The state department had put in a huge amount of effort to ensure there was a proper civilian administration."

Emily Perez, d. 9/12/2006

TIME Magazine:
Even at a school of overachievers, Perez's friends and teachers say that she stood out. She held the second-highest rank in her senior class, and, as Brigade Command Sergeant Major, was the highest-ranking minority woman in the history of West Point. She set school records as a sprinter on the track team, led the school's gospel choir, tutored a number of other students and even helped start a dance squad to cheer on the football and basketball teams. Professors wanted her to be in their classes, soldiers wanted her to lead their cadets, underclassmen wanted to catch a little bit of the unstoppable drive that pushed her to meet and exceed the many challenges the academy throws at its students.

"People often say only good things about someone after they've died, but none of this is hyperbole," says Morten Ender, her faculty advisor in the Sociology Program at West Point. "Emily was amazing."

"She was a star among stars," is how classmate Meagan Belk puts it. "You just never would have imagined this would happen to her."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

State of Denial: Iraq

Bob Woodward, according to CBS (my emphasis):
(CBS) Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward tells Mike Wallace that the Bush administration has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq. He also reveals key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year.

In Wallace’s interview with Woodward, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. ET/PT, the reporter also claims that Henry Kissinger is among those advising Mr. Bush.

According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. "It’s getting to the point now where there are eight-, nine-hundred attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces," says Woodward.

The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public. "The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], 'Oh, no, things are going to get better,'" he tells Wallace. "Now there’s public, and then there’s private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know," says Woodward.

"The insurgents know what they are doing. They know the level of violence and how effective they are. Who doesn't know? The American public," Woodward tells Wallace.

Woodward also reports that the president and vice president often meet with Henry Kissinger, who was President Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, as an adviser. Says Woodward, "Now what’s Kissinger’s advice? In Iraq, he declared very simply, ‘Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.'" Woodward adds. "This is so fascinating. Kissinger’s fighting the Vietnam War again because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will."

President Bush is absolutely certain that he has the U.S. and Iraq on the right course, says Woodward. So certain is the president on this matter, Woodward says, that when Mr. Bush had key Republicans to the White House to discuss Iraq, he told them, "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me."

Woodward reported for two years and interviewed more than 200 people, including top officials in the Bush administration, to learn these and other revelations that he makes in his latest book, State of Denial, published by Simon & Schuster, part of the CBS Corp.
Typical counterinsurgency theory holds that the centers of gravity are the populations of the parties in conflict. Deception is a fine tactic to use against one's enemy, but it is poor management strategy to use on one's own population. This is one of the more disheartening stories I have read in some time.

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

This remains the introductory phase of Abu Hamza al-Muhajir's tenure as commander of al Qaeda in Iraq. His Ramadan tape is very interesting. The Guardian has a thorough account:
The new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq has admitted that more than 4,000 foreign fighters have been killed in the country since the US-led invasion in 2003, according to an internet recording.

Speaking on the audio recording, posted on an Islamist website, a voice purported to be that of Abu Hamza al-Muhajir - also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri - says: "We have spilled the blood in Iraq of more than 4,000 foreigners who came to fight."

The Arabic word he uses indicates he is speaking about foreigners who joined the insurgency in Iraq, not coalition troops.

It is believed to be the first major statement from insurgents in Iraq about their losses.


"I congratulate the Muslim nation on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, the month of jihad (holy war). I ask God to make it a month for honour and victory for Muslims," the voice says.

It also encourages Masri's followers to kidnap westerners who could be used to bargain for the freedom of Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman. The cleric is being held over links to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York.

"I call on every holy fighter in Iraq to strive during this holy month ... to capture some dogs of the Christians so that we can liberate our imprisoned sheikh," it says. The voice goes on to offer a "general amnesty" to Iraqis who have cooperated with US-led forces or fled the country.

"As for those who supported the occupiers and their agents, becoming their eyes and ears, and who betrayed their religion, honour and land for material or social gains ... I declare a general amnesty during this month of generosity and forgiveness," the speaker says.

"We waive the right to [avenge] the blood that was shed by your hands and your betrayal," he says.

A US intelligence official in Washington said American authorities had expected a Ramadan message from the group.

"They wanted to get something out to continue shoring up their position, to show al-Qaida's still engaged and leading this after Zarqawi's death," he told Reuters.
Based on this terrorist's nom de guerre, he is not a native Iraqi. The U.S. has identified him as an Egyptian, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and a member of EIJ -- Zawahiri's group. The invocation of the blind sheikh is consistent with an EIJ jihadist. I find it particularly interesting, also, that Muhajir has waived the right to avenge collaborators and has targeted Christians. Al Qaeda approved of Zarqawi's butchery and advised him to target collaborating Shiite. There was an effort to pull Zarqawi back in 2005. It met with little success.

But, he's dead now.

Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker wrote earlier this month:
In a letter to bin Laden in January, 2004, which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence, Zarqawi explained that “if we succeed in dragging [the Shia] into the arena of sectarian war it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger.” He said that he would formally pledge allegiance to Al Qaeda if bin Laden endorsed his battle against the Shiites. Bin Laden told Zarqawi to go ahead and “use the Shiite card,” perhaps because his son Saad and other Al Qaeda figures were being held in Iran, and he hoped that Zarqawi would persuade the Iranians to hand them over; he hesitated, however, to formally ally himself with Zarqawi.


Within radical Islamist circles, Zarqawi’s gory executions and attacks on Muslims at prayer became a source of controversy. From prison, Maqdisi chastised his former protégé. “The pure hands of jihad fighters must not be stained by shedding inviolable blood,” he wrote in an article that was posted on his Web site in July, 2004. “There is no point in vengeful acts that terrify people, provoke the entire world against mujahideen, and prompt the world to fight them.” Maqdisi also advised jihadis not to go to Iraq, “because it will be an inferno for them. This is, by God, the biggest catastrophe.”

Zarqawi angrily refuted Maqdisi’s remarks, saying that he took orders only from God; however, he was beginning to realize that his efforts in Iraq were another dead end for jihad. “The space of movement is starting to get smaller,” he had written to bin Laden in June. “The grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors’ necks and, with the spread of soldiers and police, the future is becoming frightening.” Finally, bin Laden agreed to lend his influence to assist Zarqawi in drawing recruits to his cause. In October, 2004, Zarqawi announced his new job title: emir of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

From that time until he was killed by American bombs, in June, 2006, Zarqawi led a murderous campaign unmatched in the history of Al Qaeda. Before Zarqawi became a member, Al Qaeda had killed some thirty-two hundred people. Zarqawi’s forces probably killed twice that number.

In July, 2005, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s chief ideologue and second-in-command, attempted to steer the nihilistic Zarqawi closer to the founders’ original course. In a letter, he outlined the next steps for the Iraqi jihad: “The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or emirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate. . . . The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq. The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before—the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.”

Zawahiri advised Zarqawi to moderate his attacks on Iraqi Shiites and to stop beheading hostages. “We are in a battle,” Zawahiri reminded him. “And more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.”
With Muhajir placed in charge of al Qaeda in Iraq, I had a bad feeling that Zawahiri was going to a trusted hand. A lot of the experts thought the organization would nominate an Iraqi to lead them. That is a reasonable assumption, but not necessarily assured. Assuming al Qaeda has some level of command and control (and this letter writing indicates it does) Zawahiri likely wanted a more politically savvy leader. Muhajir's first major address recounts the previous casualties -- almost to say that his group has suffered too -- and offers peace among Muslims. If he referenced foreigners directly, he may have done so in an attempt to build legitimacy for foreign jihadists, himself included, in Iraq. He then calls for attacks on Christians to free the Blind Sheikh.

This is as much the art of politics as it is the art of war. I would anticipate a tough month of Ramadan.

More news...

The Los Angeles Times:
BAGHDAD — Senior U.S. military officials have stepped up complaints that Iraq's Shiite-led government is thwarting efforts to go after Shiite death squads blamed in the execution-style killings of Sunni Arabs in neighborhoods across this capital.

Although deadly Sunni Arab rebel attacks remain frequent in Baghdad, U.S. officials, including Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, say death squads affiliated with Shiite militias have become the main factors ratcheting up the capital's death toll from sectarian killings.
The Los Angeles Times:
BAGHDAD — Iraq's two most deadly Shiite Muslim militias have killed thousands of Sunni Arabs since February, with the more experienced Badr Brigade often working in tandem with Al Mahdi army, collecting intelligence on targets and forming hit lists that Al Mahdi militia members carry out, a senior U.S. military official said Wednesday.

In some cases, death squads have been accompanied by a "clerical figure to basically run" an Islamic court to provide "the blessing for the conduct of the execution," the official said.
The Washington Post:
BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 -- A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest."
The New York Times:
BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 — The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has lost control of portions of his Mahdi Army militia that are splintering off into freelance death squads and criminal gangs, a senior coalition intelligence official said Wednesday.
The Washington Post on 8/25/2006:
At least until July, Abu Diri and the dozens of men believed to be under him operated out of Sadr City and Shula, two Baghdad neighborhoods that are home to more than 2 million Shiites. The districts are heavily loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia has a significant presence there. Abu Diri's victims typically were found blindfolded, with hands bound, in the streets lining Sadr City, American officers said.

U.S. military officials, distrustful of Sadr after battling his Mahdi Army in the first two years of the war, believe Abu Diri is linked to the militia.

"He's the enforcer," said 1st Lt. Zeroy Lawson, the intelligence officer with a small U.S. Army unit that works in Sadr City and is responsible for helping train the Iraqi army there. "He goes after specific targets" of Sadr and the Mahdi Army.

Lawson called him Sadr City's agent "for external affairs," going across Baghdad in pursuit of Sunnis or any others seen as enemies.

Sadr and his top aides publicly disavow Abu Diri.
The United Nations has a report on the spread of terrorism, AP:
UNITED NATIONS – Al-Qaeda's activity in Iraq remains disproportionate to its size, and Afghanistan's Taliban rebels continue to benefit from a close relationship with the network and other foreign terrorist groups, according to a U.N. report.

As an indication of the close relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against the two groups said “new explosive devices are now used in Afghanistan within a month of their first appearing in Iraq.”

“And while the Taliban have not been found fighting outside Afghanistan/Pakistan, there have been reports of them training in both Iraq and Somalia,” the committee's terrorism experts said.

By contrast, it said, al-Qaeda is not only operating in Iraq but there have been many attacks elsewhere that have promoted al-Qaeda objectives, “even if mounted by unconnected groups or individuals with narrowed sectarian or political aims.”

British MoD-linked report: "The War in Iraq...has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists from across the Muslim world."

BBC's New Night had the follow, [key excerpts]:
Key quotes from a leaked Ministry of Defence think-tank paper which alleges that Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, has indirectly helped the Taleban and al-Qaeda and should be dismantled. The research paper was written by a senior officer at the MoD-run Defence Academy. The Ministry of Defence have responded that the views contained in it do not reflect the views of the MOD or the government.
The wars in Afghanistan and particularly Iraq have not gone well and are progressing slowly towards an as yet unspecified and uncertain result.

The War in Iraq...has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists from across the Muslim world.

The Al Qaeda ideology has taken root within the Muslim world and Muslim populations within western countries. Iraq has served to radicalise an already disillusioned youth and Al Qaeda has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act.

British Armed Forces are effectively held hostage in Iraq - following the failure of the deal being attempted by COS (Chief of Staff) to extricate UK Armed Forces from Iraq on the basis of 'doing Afghanistan' - and we are now fighting (and arguably losing or potentially losing) on two fronts.

The West will not be able to find peaceful exit strategies from Iraq and Afghanistan - creating greater animosity...and a return to violence and radicalisation on their leaving. The enemy it has identified (terrorism) is the wrong target. As an idea it cannot be defeated.


The Army's dual role in combating terrorism and at the same time promoting the MMA and so indirectly supporting the Taliban (through the ISI) is coming under closer and closer international scrutiny.

Pakistan is not currently stable but on the edge of chaos.

[The West has] turned a blind eye towards existing instability and the indirect protection of Al Qaeda and promotion of terrorism.

Indirectly Pakistan (through the ISI) has been supporting terrorism and extremism - whether in London on 7/7 or in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The US/UK cannot begin to turn the tide until they identify the real enemies from attacking ideas tactically - and seek to put in place a more just vision. This will require Pakistan to move away from Army rule and for the ISI to be dismantled and more significantly something to be put in its place.

Musharraf knows that time is running out for some point the US is likely to withdraw funding (and possibly even protection) of him - estimated at $70-80M a month.

Without US funding his position will become increasingly tenuous.
This leak is creating quite the uproar across the pond, as Tony Blair is to meet with Pervez Musharraf.

The Ministry of Defence has released the following:
The academic research notes quoted in no way represent the views of either the MoD or the Government. To represent it as such is deeply irresponsible and the author is furious that his notes have been wilfully misrepresented in this manner. Indeed, he suspects that they have been released to the BBC precisely in the hope that they would cause damage to our relations with Pakistan.

Pakistan is a key ally in our efforts to combat international terrorism and her security forces have made considerable sacrifices in tackling al-Qaeda and the Taleban. We are working closely with Pakistan to tackle the root causes of terrorism and extremism.
News accounts in England highlight the potential tensions.

BBC News:
A leaked paper criticising Pakistan's intelligence service does not reflect his government's view, Tony Blair is expected to tell the country's leader.
A researcher at the Ministry of Defence claimed that Pakistan's intelligence service, ISI, had indirectly helped the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

President Pervez Musharraf responded angrily and Mr Blair is to try to allay his concerns in talks at Chequers.

Gen Musharraf said Pakistan was doing an "excellent job" tracking militants.
This from the BBC concerning a truce:
Militant attacks in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, have tripled in some areas, the US military has said.
The rise in activity comes despite a peace agreement meant to end violence by pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan border area.

But correspondents say the deal has increased friction with Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Nato has announced that it will extend its mission in Afghanistan to cover the whole country, taking command of thousands of US troops.

The move will be implemented in the next few weeks, a Nato spokesman said.

Your very own "all-source reporting" NIE

What follows is the declassified NIE with the addition of various items to expand upon the key judgments. It has been noted in a few press accounts that the evidence and conclusions in the NIE are familiar to anyone closely following events. This shows how robust our open-source environment is concerning this war. It also shows that information acquired by our intelligence services is not as exemplary as we would all hope. In some cases, I have removed sub-headlines to maintain the consistency of this entire entry.

The actual NIE text is presented in its entirety and set in italics. My comments will be in the normal typeface, while outside reporting will be added with the source noted and bold font used.

This process was time consuming. If I dropped a paragraph out of the NIE by accident, please bring it to my attention.

The declassified NIE is available on the DNI website.

Trends in Global Terrorism:
Implications for the United States dated April 2006

Embellished by copy editor on 9/27/2006

United States-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations; however, we judge that al-Qa’ida will continue to pose the greatest threat to the Homeland and US interests abroad by a single terrorist organization. We also assess that the global jihadist movement—which includes al- Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells—is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts.

The former point-man at CIA for dispensing of Osama bin Laden, Michael Scheuer, was interviewed by Harpers on 8/23/2006. He had the following to say...

On balance, [we are] more vulnerable [than before 9/11]. We're safer in terms of aircraft travel. We're safer from being attacked by some dumbhead who tries to come into the country through an official checkpoint; we've spent billions on that. But for the most part our victories have been tactical and not strategic. There have been important successes by the intelligence services and Special Forces in capturing and killing Al Qaeda militants, but in the long run that's just a body count, not progress. We can't capture them one by one and bring them to justice. There are too many of them, and more now than before September 11. In official Western rhetoric these are finite organizations, but every time we interfere in Muslim countries they get more support.


The quality of [al Qaeda's] leadership is not as high as it was in 2001, because we've killed and captured so many of its leaders. But they have succession planning that works very well. We keep saying that we're killing their leaders, but you notice that we keep having to kill their number twos, threes and fours all over again. They bring in replacements, and these are not novices off the street—they're understudies. From the very first, bin Laden has said that he's just one person and Al Qaeda is a vanguard organization, that it needs other Muslims to join them. He's always said that his primary goal is to incite attacks by people who might not have any direct contact with Al Qaeda. Since 2001, and especially since mid-2005, there's been an increase in the number of groups that were not directly tied to Al Qaeda but were inspired by bin Laden's words and actions.

• Although we cannot measure the extent of the spread with precision, a large body of all-source reporting indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.

The operative phrase here is "a large body of all-source reporting"... Robert Kagan wrote in the Washington Post on 9/25/2006 that the NIE should attempt a tally of the additional terrorists "created" by the war in Iraq. This statement in the NIE refers to an increasing number of "jihadists" over an increasing area of operation. Since 9/11, there have been "jihadist" attacks or attempted attacks in: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Bali, Germany, Spain, Canada, Britain, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. An exact tally may not be possible, and comparative figures from the era prior to 9/11 are merely estimates.

We have no census on jihad from either 9/10/2001 or 9/28/2006. Such a census is, of course, an absurd idea. As far as we can tell, the number of those identifying themselves as jihadists is on the rise.

• If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide.

Andrew Black of the Jamestown Foundation analyzed a jihadi treatise by Abu Musab al Suri, which we will revisit later in this entry also. Black wrote on 9/21/2006...

In a highly influential and sizeable treatise posted in January 2005 and titled "The Global Islamic Resistance Call," jihadi ideologue Abu Musab al-Suri (aka Mustafa Setmariam Nasar) culminated a life of activity by providing his strategic template for the Global Salafi-Jihad [1]. This work, rare for its self-examining and almost scientific approach, provides details for how the jihad should pursue its campaign henceforth. While not outwardly acknowledging it, al-Suri's strategic manifesto carries many of the same tenets of fourth generation warfare (4GW) as outlined by military analyst William Lind. ...

Writing in a 1989 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette, William Lind and his co-authors outlined what they perceived to be the next generation of warfare. While many have viewed this article as the seminal piece on the changing face of warfare, others were struck by its applicability to the international phenomenon of terrorism.

The authors [terrorists including Suri] observed that effective terrorists tend to operate more or less in accordance with the tenets of 4GW. Similar to an ideal 4GW soldier, terrorists live almost completely off the land and off the enemy's society while operating on broad mission orders. Furthermore, they operate on a highly dispersed battlefield in which maneuverability is paramount. It is upon these primary areas, among others, that al-Qaeda strategists originally focused their efforts and in which al-Suri has developed the 4GW doctrine.

Through his writings, it becomes evident that al-Suri seeks to revolutionize the Global Salafi-Jihad by further decentralizing the movement and by limiting or eradicating the organizational aspect altogether. Al-Suri's writings and teachings, stretching back to his days in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, demonstrate the most evolved jihadi adaptation of 4GW. The primary elements of al-Suri's iteration of 4GW lie within the slogan nizam, la tanzim (system, not organization). This phrase encapsulates a number of 4GW tenets and demonstrates a significant evolution in the employment of commander's intent, dispersal of the battlefield and the decentralization of logistics.

Among the primary elements of 4GW that al-Suri has developed, none have evolved to the extent that commander's intent has. In Lind's description of 4GW, the notion of commander's intent is an integral feature in the dispersal of the battlefield. As Lind succinctly states, the dispersion of the battlefield "will require even the lowest level [of strategic leadership] to operate flexibly on the basis of the commander's intent." In Lind's model, individuals operate with only a semblance of a command-and-control apparatus.

If the number of terrorists are on the rise and they are operating under "commander's intent", then we can anticipate diverse, self-starting terrorist attacks augmented by some operational knowledge from more traditional terrorists. Plots in America, Canada and Britain may be the first indications of a broader trend.

• Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit. Over time, such progress, together with sustained, multifaceted programs targeting the vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement and continued pressure on al-Qa’ida, could erode support for the jihadists.

There is some reason for this note of optimism. Hezbollah must adopt nationalistic norms to deal with complex political realities in Lebanon. Moreover, the group denounced the 9/11 attacks.

There was a split in the conflict in Northern Ireland between the Provisional IRA and the Real IRA. The latter organization disavowed the political process but was far less substantial than the former. It should be noted, however, that an important influence in this split was effective British counterintelligence and police work against the IRA. Basically, the tactics of terror were less beneficial. If we are to see such a split in Islamic terrorism, we will need to see both the increase in effectiveness of non-violent reforms and the decrease in effectiveness of terrorist tactics. These two events are some time off.

We assess that the global jihadist movement is decentralized, lacks a coherent global strategy, and is becoming more diffuse. New jihadist networks and cells, with anti-American agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge. The confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups.

• We assess that the operational threat from self-radicalized cells will grow in importance to US counterterrorism efforts, particularly abroad but also in the Homeland.

Lawrence Wright, of the New Yorker and in this year's 9/11 issue, profiled Abu Musab al-Suri and the development of new jihad theory to counter the military advantages expressed by the United States and other powers after 9/11...

Unlike most jihadi theorists, Suri acknowledges the setback caused by September 11th. He laments the demise of the Taliban, which he and other Salafi jihadis considered the modern world’s only true Islamic government. America’s “war on terror,” he complains, doesn’t discriminate between Al Qaeda adherents and Muslims in general. “Many loyal Muslims,” he writes, believe that the September 11th attacks “justified the American assault and have given it a legitimate rationale for reoccupying the Islamic world.” But Suri goes on to argue that America’s plans for international domination were already evident “in the likes of Nixon and Kissinger,” and that this agenda would have been pursued without the provocation of September 11th. Moreover, the American attack on Afghanistan was not really aimed at capturing or killing bin Laden; its true goal was to sweep away the Taliban and eliminate the rule of Islamic law.

In Suri’s view, the underground terrorist movement—that is, Al Qaeda and its sleeper cells—is defunct. This approach was “a failure on all fronts,” because of its inability to achieve military victory or to rally the Muslim people to its cause. He proposes that the next stage of jihad will be characterized by terrorism created by individuals or small autonomous groups (what he terms “leaderless resistance”), which will wear down the enemy and prepare the ground for the far more ambitious aim of waging war on “open fronts”—an outright struggle for territory. He explains, “Without confrontation in the field and seizing control of the land, we cannot establish a state, which is the strategic goal of the resistance.”

Suri acknowledges that the “Jewish enemy, led by America and its nonbelieving, apostate, hypocritical allies,” enjoys overwhelming military superiority, but he argues that the spiritual commitment of the jihadis is equally formidable. He questions Al Qaeda’s opposition to democracy, which offers radical Islamists an opportunity to “secretly use this comfortable and relaxed atmosphere to spread out, reorganize their ranks, and acquire broader public bases.”

Suri is but one theorist of jihad, yet his efforts (a tome exceeding 1000 pages) are one example political theory intermingling with violent extremism. Another example is a shorter document prepared by the self-identified entity "Media Committee for the Victory of the Iraqi People (Mujahidin Services Centre)" in late 2003. The document targeted Spain as a politically weak ally of the United States in Iraq.

• The jihadists regard Europe as an important venue for attacking Western interests. Extremist networks inside the extensive Muslim diasporas in Europe facilitate recruitment and staging for urban attacks, as illustrated by the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London bombings.

The Media Committee for the Victory of the Iraqi People prepared a report entitled, "Jihadi Iraq, Hopes and Dangers". FFI elaborates on the document...

Yusuf al-Ayiri was a key al-Qaida ideologist and media coordinator who was killed by Saudi security forces in May 2003. The fact that al-Ayiri is the only named person to receive a dedication in the document, and the fact that the author strongly recommends reading al-Ayiri’s books indicate that the author was either part of the circle around al-Ayiri, or would like to be associated with his ideological legacy. Al-Ayiri wrote extensively on the Iraq war and his style was characterized by a very pragmatic military and political approach to jihad. His books paid little attention to religious and theological issues.

Jihadi Iraq, Hopes and Dangers is similarly pragmatic and analytical, and this further suggest that the author is at least of the same ideological orientation of al-Ayiri, who was closely associated with al-Qaida. At several points in the text the author says "we think" or "we find", suggesting perhaps that the "Mujahidin Services Centre" does indeed refer to a closed circle of al-Qaida followers.

The document is also dedicated more generally to islamists who have fought in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia and Iraq. This indicates that the text is not intended for internal organisational use but rather seeks to provide general strategic advice to a wider international audience of radical islamists. At the same time, the author presumes that the readers share his underlying ideological vision, because he does not deal with theological justifications for the strategy he proposes.


The main thesis proposed in the document is that America cannot be coerced to leave Iraq by military-political means alone, but the Islamist resistance can succeed if it makes the occupation of Iraq as costly as possible - in economic terms - for the United States.

The document therefore offers a number of specific "policy recommendations" in order to increase the economic impact of the insurgency and the jihadi campaign in Iraq. The most important of these recommendations consists of trying to limit the number of American allies present in Iraq, because America must not be allowed to share the cost of occupation with a wide coalition of countries. If the mujahidin can force US allies to withdraw from Iraq then America will be left to cover the expenses on her own, which she cannot sustain for very long. The intermediary strategic goal is therefore to make one or two of the US allies leave the coalition, because this will cause others to follow suit and the dominos will start falling.

In the Summer of 2006, al Sahab -- al Qaeda's "media company" -- released a video of London bomber Shehzad Tanweer for the anniversary of the attack, BBC. The murderer said, in part, "What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger. ... until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq". In the fall of 2005, a similar video from that production organization was released for bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan.

We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

In Novermber/December of 2005, Peter Bergen and Alec Reynolds wrote in Foreign Affairs that the Iraqi Jihad could lead to a blowback far greater than the jihad in Afghanistan. They detailed the thousands of deaths that resulted from Afghan jihadists moving onto other fronts and then wrote...

Several factors could make blowback from the Iraq war even more dangerous than the fallout from Afghanistan. Foreign fighters started to arrive in Iraq even before Saddam's regime fell. They have conducted most of the suicide bombings--including some that have delivered strategic successes such as the withdrawal of the UN and most international aid organizations--and the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, another alumnus of the Afghan war, is perhaps the most effective insurgent commander in the field. Fighters in Iraq are more battle hardened than the Afghan Arabs, who fought demoralized Soviet army conscripts. They are testing themselves against arguably the best army in history, acquiring skills in their battles against coalition forces that will be far more useful for future terrorist operations than those their counterparts learned during the 1980s. Mastering how to make improvised explosive devices or how to conduct suicide operations is more relevant to urban terrorism than the conventional guerrilla tactics used against the Red Army. U.S. military commanders say that techniques perfected in Iraq have been adopted by militants in Afghanistan.

Finally, foreign involvement in the Iraqi conflict will likely lead some Iraqi nationals to become international terrorists. The Afghans were glad to have Arab money but were culturally, religiously, and psychologically removed from the Afghan Arabs; they neither joined al Qaeda nor identified with the Arabs' radical theology. Iraqis, however, are closer culturally to the foreigners fighting in Iraq, and many will volunteer to continue other jihads even after U.S. troops depart.

• The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.

These four factors should be raised at this point...

(1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness;

(2) the Iraq "jihad";

(3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and

(4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims'all of which jihadists exploit.

Two feeds One, Three and Four. It might be broken out, but it is worth paying close attention to the situation in Iraq and how it affected the jihadist narrative...

Michael Scheuer from the Harpers' interview...

Iraq was the perfect execution of a war that demanded jihad to oppose it. You had an infidel power invading and occupying a Muslim country and it was perceived to be unprovoked. Many senior Western officials said that bin Laden was not a scholar and couldn't declare a jihad but other Muslim clerics did. So that religious question was erased.

Secondly, Iraq is in the Arab heartland and, far more than Afghanistan, is a magnet for mujahideen. You can see this in the large number of people crossing the border to fight us. It wasn't a lot at the start, but there's been a steady growth as the war continues. The war has validated everything bin Laden said: that the United States will destroy any strong government in the Arab world, that it will seek to destroy Israel's enemies, that it will occupy Muslim holy places, that it will seize Arab oil, and that it will replace God's law with man's law. We see Iraq as a honey pot that attracts jihadists whom we can kill there instead of fighting them here. We are ignoring that Iraq is not just a place to kill Americans; Al Qaeda has always said that it requires safe havens. It has said it couldn't get involved with large numbers in the Balkans war because it had no safe haven in the region. Now they have a safe haven in Iraq, which is so big and is going to be so unsettled for so long. For the first time, it gives Al Qaeda contiguous access to the Arabian Peninsula, to Turkey, and to the Levant. We may have written the death warrant for Jordan. If we pull out of Iraq, we have a problem in that we may have to leave a large contingent of troops in Jordan. All of this is a tremendous advantage for Al Qaeda. We've moved the center of jihad a thousand miles west from Afghanistan to the Middle East.

Ahmed Rashid wrote in the Washington Post on 9/11/2006...

In Iraq, according to a recent Pentagon study, attacks by insurgents jumped to 800 per week in the second quarter of this year -- double the number in the first quarter. Iraqi casualties have increased by 50 percent. The organization al-Qaeda in Iraq has spawned an array of new guerrilla tactics, weapons and explosive devices that it is conveying to the Taliban and other groups.

Moreover, efforts by armies to win the local citizens' hearts and minds and carry out reconstruction projects are also failing as extremists attack "soft" targets, such as teachers, civil servants and police officers, decapitating the local administration and terrorizing the people.

On 9/27/2006 CNN reports...

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- With the Islamic holy month of Ramadan under way, insurgent attacks in Iraq have risen in the past two weeks, particularly in Baghdad, a U.S. military commander said Wednesday.

"This has been a tough week," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said. "This week's suicide attacks were at their highest level of any given week."

There have been discouraging developments outside of Iraq as well...

Rashid on 9/11/2006 also wrote about other developments that this report predates...

Imagine an Arab guerrilla army that is never seen by Israeli forces, never publicly celebrates victories or mourns defeats, and merges so successfully into the local population that Western TV networks can't interview its commanders or fighters. Such was the achievement of Hezbollah's 33-day war against Israeli troops, who admitted that they rarely saw the enemy until they were shot at.

Israel's high-tech surveillance and weaponry were no match for Hezbollah's low-tech network of underground tunnels. Hezbollah's success in stealth and total battlefield secrecy is an example of what extremists are trying to do worldwide.

In southern Afghanistan, the Taliban have learned to avoid U.S. and NATO surveillance satellites and drones in order to gather up to 400 guerrillas at a time for attacks on Afghan police stations and army posts. They have also learned to disperse before U.S. airpower is unleashed on them, to hide their weapons and merge into the local population.

In North and South Waziristan, the tribal regions along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, an alliance of extremist groups that includes al-Qaeda, Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, Central Asians, and Chechens has won a significant victory against the army of Pakistan. The army, which has lost some 800 soldiers in the past three years, has retreated, dismantled its checkpoints, released al-Qaeda prisoners and is now paying large "compensation" sums to the extremists.

This region, considered "terrorism central" by U.S. commanders in Afghanistan, is now a fully operational al-Qaeda base area offering a wide range of services, facilities, and military and explosives training for extremists around the world planning attacks. Waziristan is now a regional magnet. In the past six months up to 1,000 Uzbeks, escaping the crackdown in Uzbekistan after last year's massacre by government security forces in the town of Andijan, have found sanctuary with al-Qaeda in Waziristan.

These more recent developments feed into the four factors detailed in the NIE...

• Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq "jihad"; (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims'all of which jihadists exploit.

King Abdullah of Jordan issued a warning in TIME Magazine on 9/07/2006...

But moderates pushing for a peaceful settlement, the King complained, have been "neutralized" because of the stagnation in Arab-Israeli negotiations. "I don't think people are taking us seriously," he said. "A lot of the moderate countries are feeling isolated. Today the street is saying, 'You know, we tried the peace process. We keep hoping that the Americans and the international community will step forward, we keep hoping that Israel will make a difference and reach out to the Arabs. They are only beginning to see that the only way you can get America's attention or Israel's attention is through confrontation."

The King expressed concern that the region's troubles could multiply with the crises over Iraq and Iran. He expressed fears of civil war in Iraq "if it continues to spiral," and while voicing concern about Iran's influence, he cautioned against the thought of American military action to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. "I don't think the Middle East could afford another war," he said. "A war with Iran would sort of open a Pandora's Box and one that I don't think the Middle East would recover from."

The NIE reports on some vulnerabilities to the appeal of violent jihad...

Concomitant vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement have emerged that, if fully exposed and exploited, could begin to slow the spread of the movement. They include dependence on the continuation of Muslim-related conflicts, the limited appeal of the jihadists' radical ideology, the emergence of respected voices of moderation, and criticism of the violent tactics employed against mostly Muslim citizens.

• The jihadists' greatest vulnerability is that their ultimate political solution -- an ultra-conservative interpretation of sharia-based governance spanning the Muslim world -- is unpopular with the vast majority of Muslims. Exposing the religious and political straitjacket that is implied by the jihadists' propaganda would help to divide them from the audiences they seek to persuade.

• Recent condemnations of violence and extremist religious interpretations by a few notable Muslim clerics signal a trend that could facilitate the growth of a constructive alternative to jihadist ideology: peaceful political activism. This also could lead to the consistent and dynamic participation of broader Muslim communities in rejecting violence, reducing the ability of radicals to capitalize on passive community support. In this way, the Muslim mainstream emerges as the most powerful weapon in the war on terror.

• Countering the spread of the jihadist movement will require coordinated multilateral efforts that go well beyond operations to capture or kill terrorist leaders.

The Chatham House, a think tank in the United Kingdom, reported on many of these factors in August 2006...

The traditional religious establishment (long seen as the enemy by al-Qaeda) has, by repeatedly arguing the theological case for its long-held beliefs, substantially shifted opinion against the resort to violence on religious grounds. This has been particularly evident in Egypt, Saudi and Yemen and has created a backlash which has in turn helped emphasize the polarization within Muslim communities over who has the right to interpret Islam. ... the theological battle ultimately poses a very serious challenge to al-Qaeda and its supporters.19

In this new climate where there is increased criticism of governments, and despite heightened anti-US sentiment, al-Qaeda’s appeal has been undermined by the more vociferous opposition. It is not so much the secular forces but the Islamist ones that have greater legitimacy in pulling the carpet from underneath those who promote al-Qaeda’s arguments.

The majority in Muslim states seem to more openly express a similar anger to that of al-Qaeda towards their governments and the West but have not adopted its tactics. They appear willing to channel their opposition through political parties and the
democratic process when it is available, but they continue to be frustrated in their endeavours to pursue the democratic path by the slow pace of change in the region and ongoing repressive measures.

Thus, against the uncertain progress of democratization in the Middle East, and the frequently frustrated ambitions of Islamist parties that condemn the use of violence, al-Qaeda continues to offer a radical alternative, even if only to a minority.

If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives. Nonetheless, attendant reforms and potentially destabilizing transitions will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit.

Democratic reforms in Muslim nations have given HAMAS majority stake in the Palestinian government, Hezbollah a vocal minority in Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt (which has denounced violence) a minority in that government, and Iran-linked Shiite powers influence in Iraq and control over vital ministries.

Al-Qa’ida, now merged with Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s network, is exploiting the situation in Iraq to attract new recruits and donors and to maintain its leadership role.

Since this NIE was issued, Zarqawi has been brought to justice. However, the situation in Iraq and in al Anbar has not improved. A report from Colonel Devlin, of Marine intelligence, was leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times. In a previous blog post, I put together those sources and added counterinsurgency doctrine from an interim Field Manual. Here is an excerpt:
(WP) One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically -- and that's where wars are won and lost."

(FMI 3 07 1.1) An insurgency is organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict (JP 1-02). It is a protracted politico military struggle designed to weaken government control and legitimacy while increasing insurgent control. Political power is the central issue in an insurgency.

(WP) Devlin reports that there are no [CE: He probably wrote “practically none” or some such.] functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force, said the Army officer, who has read the report. Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has [CE: Politically?] lost in Anbar.

(NYT) Feeling marginalized in the new Iraq, the Sunnis in Anbar have generally lost faith in the new Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. The Sunnis’ “greatest fears have been realized,” the report says.

(NYT) The Sunnis’ suspicion of the government makes the task of forging a political reconciliation more difficult, and has also complicated one policy option … dividing the country into Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni enclaves. Such a plan would not be welcomed by Sunnis, since they would not trust the central government to share proceeds from oil sales, the assessment says.


(NYT) American forces can generally maneuver where they want and are fighting to regain control of Ramadi, the provincial capital, neighborhood by neighborhood. But there are areas of the province where the Americans have not established a persistent presence, the assessment says.

(FMI 3 07) [CE: On a successful counterinsurgency] 2-10. Security of the populace is an imperative. This is security from the influence of the insurgents initially. The population is then mobilized, armed, and trained to protect itself. Effective security allows local political and administrative institutions to operate freely and commerce to flourish.

(NYT) Without the deployment of an additional division, “there is nothing MNF-W can do to influence the motivation of the Sunni to wage an insurgency,” the report states, according to a military officer familiar with it. MNF-W stands for Multinational Force-West, the formal name of the Marine command.

(NYT) The assessment describes Anbar as a region marked by violence and criminality. Except for a few relatively bright spots, like the towns of Falluja and Qaim, the region generally lacks functional governments and a respect for the rule of law.

(NYT) Although there is economic growth in relatively secure areas, much of it can be attributed to the American-supported reconstruction effort. The level of economic activity in the province is just a fraction of what it was before 2003, the assessment says.

(NYT) As the situation has deteriorated, insurgent attacks have increased. The report describes Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as an “integral part of the social fabric” of Anbar. The organization, which is predominantly made up of fighters who are native Iraqis, is flush with cash, much of it earned from black market or criminal activity.
• The loss of key leaders, particularly Usama Bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and al-Zarqawi, in rapid succession, probably would cause the group to fracture into smaller groups. Although like-minded individuals would endeavor to carry on the mission, the loss of these key leaders would exacerbate strains and disagreements.

We assess that the resulting splinter groups would, at least for a time, pose a less serious threat to US interests than does al-Qaida.

Zarqawi's death did little to slow al Qaeda. It should also be noted that each day bin Laden and Zawahiri remain at large, it is perceived as a victory among the jihadists.

• Should al-Zarqawi continue to evade capture and scale back attacks against Muslims, we assess he could broaden his popular appeal and present a global threat.

• The increased role of Iraqis in managing the operations of al-Qaida in Iraq might lead veteran foreign jihadists to focus their efforts on external operations. Other affiliated Sunni extremist organizations, such as Jemaah Islamiya, Ansar al-Sunnah, and several North African groups, unless countered, are likely to expand their reach and become more capable of multiple and/or mass-casualty attacks outside their traditional areas of operation.

There may soon be a metric to indicate this assessment and similar assessments that Iraq could fuel a second jihad blowback, as postulated by Bergen and Reynolds.

Reuters reported on 9/18/2006...

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and fellow Iraq neighbours Iran and Turkey voiced concern on Monday that Iraqi sectarian and ethnic tensions could spill over into the region, home to a similar ethnic and religious mix.

"What we fear today is that the wise could fall in the traps of the ignorant, in which case Iraq, its unity and people would be victims...," Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef told counterparts from nine countries in a meeting to discuss efforts to help Iraq quash an insurgency and quell sectarian violence.

"The dangers of such a situation, God forbid, are not a jeopardy to Iraq alone, but they will have an impact on the security of the international community and (Iraq's) neighbours," he said.

Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi and his Turkish counterpart Abdulkadir Aksu echoed similar concerns.

CNN/AP reported on 9/27/2006...

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- In a sign of regional concern over terrorism, Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with plans to build a fence along its entire 560-mile (900-kilometer) border with Iraq to prevent terrorists from entering the kingdom from the chaotic north.

The barrier, which likely will take five to six years to complete, is part of a $12 billion package of measures, including electronic sensors, bases and physical barriers, to protect the oil-rich kingdom from external threats, said Nawaf Obaid, head of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, an independent research institute that provides security advice to the Saudi government.

The ambitious project reflects not only concern over terrorism but also growing alarm over the situation in Iraq, where U.S. forces are struggling to prevent Sunni-Shiite violence from escalating to full-scale civil war.

• We assess that such groups pose less of a danger to the Homeland than does al-Qaida but will pose varying degrees of threat to our allies and to US interests abroad. The focus of their attacks is likely to ebb and flow between local regime targets and regional or global ones.

Zawahiri released a tape on the anniversary of 9/11. He explicitly threatened United States interests in the oil-rich gulf and the state of Israel.

Newsweek on 10/2/2006 also reports on the resurgence of the Taliban

The Taliban doesn't always share Al Qaeda's goals or tactics, although some units have taken up suicide bombing. But a guerrilla calling himself Commander Hemat, a former anti-Soviet mujahedin fighter who now works closely with the Taliban and Al Qaeda, says foreign Arabs are being welcomed again. "Now the money is flowing again because the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan are producing results," he told NEWSWEEK. Zabibullah, a Taliban operative who has proved reliable in the past, says the Qaeda operatives "feel more secure and can concentrate on their own business other than just surviving."

The insurgency in Afghanistan has borrowed tactics -- improvised explosive devices, internet videos for recruiting, bombs transported on bicycles -- from the Iraqi insurgency.

We judge that most jihadist groups -- both well-known and newly formed -- will use improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks focused primarily on soft targets to implement their asymmetric warfare strategy, and that they will attempt to conduct sustained terrorist attacks in urban environments. Fighters with experience in Iraq are a potential source of leadership for jihadists pursuing these tactics.

• CBRN capabilities will continue to be sought by jihadist groups.

While Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria, remain the most active state sponsors of terrorism, many other states will be unable to prevent territory or resources from being exploited by terrorists.

Pakistan has recently settled into a treaty with tribes on the Afghan border. The Christian Science Monitor on 9/26/2006 reports this as a sign of weakness for Musharraf's government....

In North Waziristan, JUI leaders responded by flexing their political muscles: they brought local Pakistani Taliban to the table and negotiated a cease-fire. For now, a delicate peace seems to be restored. But for many, relying on JUI as the middle man between the government and the Taliban is a Faustian deal, and it underscores Musharraf's political weakness at home. In the deal, JUI also won concessions for the local Taliban, resulting in the release from prison of hundreds of their fighters.

JUI members defend the deal as a practical solution for peace. "The North Waziristan deal is a good for the people, so we supported it," says Mr. Banoori.

CNN reports that early indications show an increase in attacks launched from this area against the Afghan government.

Anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint.

The strange alliance between a socialist ruler in Latin America and the president of Iran was a showcase of last week's United Nations meeting of the General Assembly.

• We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train, and obtain logistical and financial support.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A little more on that NIE

FP's Passport Blog:
A few thoughts on the hoopla over the recently declassified National Intelligence Estimate's key findings:

First, the intimations that the New York Times (or their sources) failed to understand the main thrust of the document were proven wrong. A basic rule of writing is that your most important points go up top. And right in the third sentence, it says that the jihadi movement is spreading both numerically and physically. The "Iraqi jihad" is the document's first reason why. Even the editors of the Wall Street Journal couldn't say anything positive about the document itself, instead applauding President Bush for declassifying it and attacking Nancy Pelosi for demanding a closed House session on the document.

Second, to borrow from our friends at WSJ, "If this is the kind of insight we pay our spooks to generate, we're in more trouble than we thought." All of the NIE's conclusions could easily be drawn by anyone who follows U.S. foreign policy in the media or, as they say in the intel community, "open sources." Nothing here was shocking.
The NIE did mention that is used "all-source reporting" to make some points.

The White House has refused to release the entire NIE. This issue is not likely to calm down though, not in late September. I would like to see the document just to count the "open sourced" items.

PIPA has an updated poll on Iraq:
Seven in ten Iraqis want US-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year. An overwhelming majority believes that the US military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing. More broadly, most feel the US is having a predominantly negative influence in Iraq and have little or no confidence in the US military. If the US made a commitment to withdraw, a majority believes that this would strengthen the Iraqi government. Majorities believe that the withdrawal of US troops would lead to a reduction in the amount of inter-ethnic violence and improvement in the day-to-day security of Iraqis. A modest majority, including a large majority of Shia, now believes that in the near future Iraqi security forces will be strong enough to deal with their security challenges without foreign forces. There is little interest in replacing US-led forces with an international peacekeeping force.

NIE: "The overall estimate is bleak"

The National Intelligence Estimate is available at the DNI website.

The most optimistic part of this bleak NIE states about five years to develop political structures to drive a wedge between those who would use terror and those who would use politics. We can see such a wedge in previous terrorist movements (Provisional IRA vs. Real/Continuity IRA). Five years may be optimistic. That time frame necessitates great success in Iraq. Are we on a course for such success? Keep in mind, the bloodiest months in Iraq happened after this NIE was written.

There is one passage from the NIE, apparently, that was removed before it was declassified. Spook86 had Scoop2006: "Threats to the U.S. are intrinsically linked to U.S. success or failure in Iraq."

The more I read that line, the more troubling it seems.

The Washington Post:
The overall estimate is bleak, with minor notes of optimism. It depicts a movement that is likely to grow more quickly than the West's ability to counter it over the next five years, as the Iraq war continues to breed "deep resentment" throughout the Muslim world, shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and cultivating new supporters for their ideology.

In describing Iraq as "the 'cause celebre' for jihadists," the document judges that real and perceived insurgent successes there will "inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," while losses would have the opposite effect. It predicts that the elimination of al-Qaeda leaders, particularly Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed after the estimate was completed in April, would probably leave that organization splintered into disparate groups that "for at least a time, pose a less serious threat to U.S. interests" than the current al-Qaeda structure.

On the relative bright side, the assessment notes the unpopularity with "the vast majority of Muslims" of the jihadists' brutal tactics and ultraconservative ideology. Democratic reforms and peaceful political alternatives in Muslim countries will also counter terrorist aims, it says.
The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — Three years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote a memo to his colleagues in the Pentagon posing a critical question in the “long war’’ against terrorism: Is Washington’s strategy successfully killing or capturing terrorists faster than new enemies are being created?

Until Tuesday, the government had not publicly issued an authoritative answer. But the newly declassified National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism does exactly that, and it concludes that the administration has failed the Rumsfeld test.

Portions of the report appear to bolster President Bush’s argument that the only way to defeat the terrorists is to keep unrelenting military pressure on them. But nowhere in the assessment is any evidence to support Mr. Bush’s confident-sounding assertion this month in Atlanta that “America is winning the war on terror.’’
George W. Bush, as reported in the Washington Post:
"My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions," Bush said. "They kill in order to achieve their objectives."

Bush said he reluctantly ordered the release of the National Intelligence Estimate so people can form their own conclusions about it. "You can read it for yourself," he said. "We'll stop all the speculation, all the politics about somebody saying something about Iraq, somebody trying to confuse the American people about the nature of this enemy."
This is the president at his overly simplistic "best". It is true that jihadists will warp current events and historical events to explain their cause and draw recruits. However, this does not mean that any set of events would lead to current conditions -- to the current number of recruits, the current level of violence. This is what is so crucial in this NIE. It states that the war in Iraq, among other events (this NIE was issued before the conflict in Lebanon), has lead to a "growing percentage of Muslims identif[ying] themselves as jihadist." (Financial Times) The report strongly implies that success in Iraq will discourage these ranks. However, it also implies that failure will encourage violence. Peter Bergen and Alec Raynolds wrote in November's Foreign Affairs that the impact of jihadi success in Iraq could be greater than the success they experienced in Afghanistan. This success, in part, lead to 9/11.

This begs the question: are we on the path to success in Iraq?

The president may have begun a slippery slope of election-fueled reports, BBC News:
US Democrats have urged the Bush administration to release in full a report which finds that US involvement in Iraq has fuelled global terrorism.

Senators said parts of the intelligence report declassified on Tuesday did not give Americans enough information.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As political debate churned over an intelligence report released Tuesday, a top Democrat called for the release of a second, new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that she says "paints a grim picture."

The White House denied a charge by Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, that another intelligence report is being kept in draft form so that its contents won't be public until the midterm elections in November are over.

"I hear it paints a grim picture. And because it does, I am told it is being held until after the November elections. If this estimate is finished, it should not be stamped 'draft' and hidden from the American people until after the elections," Harman said in a statement.

Frances Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said the report in question was only commissioned in August and is still months away from being complete. The planned release date is now January, she said.
Brookings will have a poll to report today (3:00 pm EST): Iraqi Public Opinion Amidst Increasing Violence. Their press release:
On September 27, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution will join the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) to release new findings from a second in-depth poll of Iraqi public opinion undertaken by The first public opinion poll was taken a month after Iraq's historic parliamentary election, and the new poll results will help illuminate Iraqi views about the impact of American troops in their country, legitimate prospects for success, and a realistic timetable for withdrawal.
More reactions...

Captain's Quarters:
This is why we have to endure the Iraqi "jihad" until we succeed. The insurgency will collapse when Iraqis grow strong enough to defend themselves and rebuild their infrastructure in peace.
William Arkin:
The growth of dissatisfaction and terror, the summary of the National Estimate argues, is not only about Iraq: Corruption, repression, and inner battles within Islam and Muslim states are the sources of the spread and growth of today's jihadist movement.

The document, however, only mildly suggests that "greater pluralism and more responsive political systems" in the Muslim world, as well as a sustained U.S. counter-terrorism effort, could "erode" the Jihadists. The four-page summary is otherwise silent on the true sources of what it calls "pervasive" anti-American sentiment, even as it does point to the rise of "anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment…fueling other radical ideologies," such as in Venezuela, though it is unnamed.

We as Americans need to get beyond not just Iraq but also beyond the September 11 retaliation era so that we can look at our adversaries and our potential enemies with a clearer eye, with some openness, and some compassion.

A lot more is needed today than getting out of Iraq.
I checked the Chatham House (a UK think tank) today, and I noticed that they have a report on terrorism available. I have yet to read it, but here are the openning remarks
:• Five years on, the challenge to al-Qaeda is coming from within as traditional Islam attacks the use of terror as un-Islamic and popular support wanes as terrorist attacks target Muslims.

• Nonetheless, there has been an increased radicalization of the Muslim street but this seems to be finding expression in Islamist groups who are keen to use democratic channels.

• Al-Qaeda’s main success has been to highlight the link between the West’s policies in the Middle East and terrorism.

• Despite its religious rhetoric, al-Qaeda’s strength lies in its political message which resonates with many but whose tactics have attracted only the fringe.

• The West faces a terrorist challenge that comes from within its borders and which impinges on community relations and civil liberties.
The NIE, which may yet be released in its entirety, stated that it was based partly on "all-source reporting". That means we Bloggers have some of the same information as the intelligence community.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A very careful read of the sobering NIE

A quick, initial update (1910 EST). Two passages stick in my mind:
1.) If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives

2.) We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.
This NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) states that the "jihad" in Iraq has lead to the cultivation of support for militant Islam. It presents democratic reforms as a long-term (partial) solution, namely a five year process, (passage 1). Democratic reform would encourage political solutions as opposed to militant ones. However, the "underlying factors fueling the spread" of militant Islam will "outweigh" the movements' (plural possessive is intentional) weaknesses. Or, it will continue to spread for some time before those reforms counter this trend (passage 2).

The NIE also states that the perception of jihadist victory in Iraq is a danger. The perception of jihadist defeat is an asset. This seems to be both reasonable and demonstratable by the result of jihadist victory in Afghanistan. This point, however, states simply that the results of the war in Iraq will be crucial to national security as it will diminish the long-term threat from jihadists. It is at this point that we must ask: has George W. Bush conducted the war in Iraq well, or is it time for new leadership and a new strategy?

So, both sides of the political aisle have tugged at this NIE since Sunday, but like a good intelligence document it declines easy spin to one political advantage.

My original post...

There is a lot about Iraq in this, but it does address the broader war on terror. I think this NIE is meant to evoke caution in a long-term sense. Iraq is still a magnet for global jihadists, but that magnet may soon yield trouble throughout the world.

My thoughts after my second read of the NIE leads me to focus on these passages. I will expand this entry later. Some comments have been entered in brackets:
We also assess that the global jihadist movement — which includes al Qa’ida [Present operational regions include: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan.], affiliated and independent terrorist groups [Kashmir inspired groups in Pakistan, to name one.], and emerging networks and cells — is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts.

Although we cannot measure the extent of the spread with precision, a large body [note this adjective, "large"] of all-source reporting [intelligence and open-source] indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.

If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide. [Countermeasures will degrade as threats become more diverse.]

Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some [note this adjective, "some"] of the grievances jihadists exploit. Over time, such progress, together with sustained, multifaceted programs targeting the vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement and continued pressure on al-Qa’ida, could erode support for the jihadists.

We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight. [Perception of the fight in Muslim minds is crucial. The jihadists were viewed with deep respect after the Soviets left Afghanistan.]

We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate. [It will get worse before it gets better.]

Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq "jihad"; (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims - all of which jihadists exploit. [This NIE was released before the Israeli-Hezbollah war, which further inflamed anti-US sentiment in the Middle East.]

Concomitant vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement have emerged that, if fully exposed and exploited, could begin to slow the spread of the movement. They include dependence on the continuation of Muslim-related conflicts, the limited appeal of the jihadists' radical ideology, the emergence of respected voices of moderation, and criticism of the violent tactics employed against mostly Muslim citizens.

Recent condemnations of violence and extremist religious interpretations by a few notable Muslim clerics signal a trend that could facilitate the growth of a constructive alternative to jihadist ideology: peaceful political activism. This also
could lead to the consistent and dynamic participation of broader Muslim communities in rejecting violence, reducing the ability of radicals to capitalize on passive community support. In this way, the Muslim mainstream emerges as the most powerful weapon in the war on terror. [Present opinion is quite infuriated with our occupation of Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and the support we gave Israel against Hezbollah.]

If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives [Groups may be willing to denounce violence, recognize enemy nations, etc.] Nonetheless, attendant reforms and potentially destabilizing transitions will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit.

The increased role of Iraqis in managing the operations of al-Qaida in Iraq might lead veteran foreign jihadists to focus their efforts on external operations.

Other affiliated Sunni extremist organizations, such as Jemaah Islamiya, Ansar al-Sunnah, and several North African groups, unless countered, are likely to expand their reach and become more capable of multiple and/or mass-casualty attacks outside their traditional areas of operation. [The report believes these groups are not as great of a threat to the United States homeland as al Qaeda presently is.]

We judge that most jihadist groups -- both well-known and newly formed -- will use improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks focused primarily on soft targets to implement their asymmetric warfare strategy, and that they will attempt to conduct sustained terrorist attacks in urban environments [Which countries?]. Fighters with experience in Iraq are a potential source of leadership for jihadists pursuing these tactics.

While Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria, remain the most active state sponsors of terrorism, many other states will be unable to prevent territory or resources from being exploited by terrorists. [Iraq's trouble with al Anbar. Areas beyond government control in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Weak states in Africa.]