Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Remember Terrrorism?

To most of us Terrorism is 9/11, or roadside bombs in Iraq, or Palestinian Suicide Bombers. How many of us are directly affected by a terrorist attack? How many of us have ever been the immediate target of primary target? How many of us even know what the difference is between “ordinary” political violence and terrorism?

Terrorism, the term, has only been meaningful to most Americans post-9/11 and since that time so few of us have advanced our understanding of what “terrorism” is and how to prevent and defend against it. This includes elected officials and those on the supposed front lines.

Terrorism 101, Violence as Theatre

The passengers of the planes and victims in the buildings on September 11th were the “immediate victims” of the terrorists but were not the “primary victims/targets”. The primary target and aspired-to victim was you and I. The spectacular attacks were merely theatrics designed to facilitate the real damage, the terrorizing of millions. The act of blowing up planes and buildings without any media coverage would only result in a few 100,000 people being actually affected. But, when broadcasted world wide it then can affect billions of people. If no one goes to see the movie or play can it have much effect? If you never heard of it do you even know that you are missing it? The same for terrorism, it is only effective if it is known.

Because of this fact the Media, some times wittingly sometimes not, plays a necessary role in terrorism. And, the more free and democratic a society, with little to no government controls on media, the larger the potential for effective terrorist attacks.

Terrorism 101, Three Ways Terrorists Win: Over React, Under React and Under Estimate

Terrorism works when the primary victim, say… America, over reacts to an attack by either retaliating against too broad a target or retaliating against the wrong target. This over reaction then lands right into the Propaganda wheel-house of a proficient terrorist organization. The improper actions are turned into recruiting material and new generations of terrorists are more easily spawned. (Important to remember that terrorists “spawn” without us contributing to their propaganda, over reactions act as an accelerant, not a necessary catalyst.)

Terrorism works when the primary victim, say… America, under reacts to an attack by retaliating too late, against the wrong target, or not at all. Bill Clinton pulled our troops out of Mogadishu after the “Black Hawk Down” incident. Ronald Reagan pulled us out of Lebanon after two bombings. Both of these under reactions to terrorism emboldened our terrorist enemies, giving them confidence to strike us. Osama Bin Laden in his “Declaration of War” (on America and the West) speech invoked both Beirut, Lebanon and Mogadishu,Somalia as signs of American weakness:

“We say to the Defence Secretary that his talk can induce a grieving
mother to laughter! and shows the fears that had enshrined you all.
Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut
took place on 1983 CE (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered
pits and pieces at that time; 241 mainly marines solders were killed.
And where was this courage of yours when two explosions made
you to leave Aden in less than twenty four hours!
But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where after
vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold
war leadership of the new world order you moved tens of
thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands
American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your
solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was
dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying
disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you.
Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and
promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for
withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew;
the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It
was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the
"chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic
cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu”

Terrorism works when the primary victim, say…America, under estimates terrorist capabilities, psychological and personal make up and motivations. Many of us think of terrorists as insane or cowards. Both of these characterizations are normal reactions to being terrorized; call it the “who could do such a thing syndrome”. Many of us think of terrorists as Muslim or Arab or “brown” people. I am fairly certain that Timothy McVeigh was neither Muslim, nor Arab nor brown. Terrorism is not a mental abnormality nor is it a tool of cowards. It is important to note that by most definitions of terrorism that Francis Marion would have been a top rate terrorist from the viewpoint of his enemies.

Many of us consider terrorists capabilities to be limited to large sensational attacks in locations like New York or L.A. We only think of the large attack rather than the small systematic one. By minimizing what we assume a terrorist capability to be and by misjudging capacity and mischaracterizing terrorists we under estimate who can be a terrorist, a terrorist’s means and where they might attack.

Terrorism 101, In your back yard.

Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed and Youssef Samir Megahed were arrested in Goose Creek, South Carolina on explosives charges last year, the two University of South Florida students were supposedly on their way to Myrtle Beach with a box of 22 rifle ammunition, a 5 gallon can of gasoline, homemade “fireworks” packed into a pipe and 25 feet of safety fuse. After further investigation a video was found on a laptop in the car that showed how to turn a toy remote control car in to a detonator. The narrative of the video suggests it is directed to suicide bombers and had been previously posted on YouTube.

In Fort Bragg, NC Ali Mahamed worked for the US Special Forces (Green Berets) and from time to time with the CIA. Mahamed was also working for Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda. Mahamed infiltrated and spied on the United States for years before being caught. One FBI agent suggested that Mahamed has actually taught both Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden in terrorist tactics.

Terrorism 101, Our Apathy and Misunderstanding Fuel Terrorism

Terrorism requires our reaction to the primary terrorist incident. For our purposes the terrorist “tree” in the woods does NOT make a sound if we are not there to hear it. You may still have political violence but it is our reaction to it that makes it terrorism. When we react to terrorism with Apathy and Misunderstanding we make the effects of terrorism worse. By not understanding the grievances of terrorists and not seeking out its roots and causes we doom ourselves to more terrorist attacks in number and greater attacks in affect. When we don’t concern ourselves with what our politicians are doing to detect, deter, and defend us from terrorism we doom ourselves to over reactions, under reactions and “mis-underestimations”. When we don’t understand the nuances of terrorism we allow our media outlets to sensationalize terrorism and there-by act as a terrorist force-multiplier worsening the effects and hampering the detection, deterrence and defense.

I hope this handy terrorism synopsis is useful. If you think you are many times removed from the front lines of terrorism you would be wrong. Your proximity to the ballot box puts you smack-dab on the front line with major responsibilities for our nation now and in the future. An ignorant vote is as bad as no vote, maybe worse. Accept your responsibility and inform yourself about these issues and vote accordingly.

Benjamin Cook
Right-Wing Propagandist and Local Arms Dealer

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