Some people probably believe that "terrorism" all began with the Trade Center bombing of 9-11. More sophisticated people know that terrorism is not new and that it is complex as well as often deadly. My military training as a combat unit commander and my legal training as a trial attorney have taught me that in order to employ tactics to accomplish a mission or to achieve a desired result I had to know or understand: (1) the capabilities and resources of the opposing force or party, (2) what that opposing force or party wanted, (3) my capabilities and resources, and (4) what I was willing to compromise if I could not achieve 100% of my desired mission or goal. I learned that things are not always what they seem to be. It is possible to win battles and lose a war. It is possible to win a war and lose the peace.
Warfare has been waged with large standing armies or navies for centuries. Special operations forces have been developed for "special operations" or missions, but they are still extensions or variations on the theme of the larger forces or armies. Terrorism has been called warfare on the cheap because it usually involves a small number of people with relatively inexpensive weapons including small arms and explosives. Another important terrorist characteristic is that the terrorist is not motivated by being a conscripted soldier. Terrorists use violence or the threat of violence to achieve a political, religious, or ideological goal. Often they are separatists or they are religious fundamentalists. Terrorists can be nation-states with an agenda disguised as self- defense. Terrorists can be transnational by committing terrorist acts in various nation-states other than their homeland or they can commit terrorist acts in their homeland.
Al Qaeda is the first multinational terrorist group of the twenty-first century. Having defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and driven by Islamic zeal, most Arab and Asian mujahidin (warriors of God) who returned home from the internationally supported jijad (holy war) wanted to cause radical social and political change. They joined opposition political parties, religious bodies and groups in their own countries, campaigning against dictatorial Muslim rulers and their corrupt regimes.
Al Qaeda was originally MAKMaktab al Khidmat lil Mujahidin al-Arabor Afghan Service Bureau. MAK was founded by Abdullah Azzam in 1984 in Peshawar, Pakistan; and he and his protge, Osamma bin Laden, ran it for several years disseminating propaganda, raising funds, and recruiting new members throughout a network of offices (including thirty in US cities) in thirty-five countries. Even before the departure of Soviet troops in 1989, MAKs socio-enomic, political, and military infrastructure had steadfastly evolved into Al Qaeda.
The resources at MAKs disposal were diverted by Al Qaeda away from Afghanistan into regional conflicts where Islamist guerrillas were involved, principally in Kashmir and Chechnya, but also in Mindanao, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Somalia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Algeria, and Egypt. In most of these countries, the governing regimes were openly hostile to Islamist movements, often repressing them ferociously.
Using the humanitarian cover of MAK and some Islamic charities, Al Qaeda infiltrated many of these conflicts, sending cadres to train further recruits and to take part in actual fighting. Although Afghanistan was Al Qaedas principal military training base, it also trained recruits in Sudan, Yemen, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, and the Philippines. Al Qaeda and its supporters in 60 countries range from small cells to allied terrorist groups to guerrilla gangs, and they pose a formidable foe to the US. (See"Terrors New Wave", Time, p.28, October 28, 2002).
As progress in these domestic campaigns from Saudi Arabia to Egypt and Algeria was slow, a second front was initiated by Al Qaeda to target the United States and its allies. Without directly challenging Western military power, economic strength, and cultural influence, the Islamists perceive that they cannot bring about change in their home countries because a group of Western countries, led by the USA, steadfastly supports Israel and unrepresentative Arab regimes of the Middle East. (See, generally,Inside Al Qaeda Global Network of Terror by Rohan Gunaratna, Columbia University Press, 2002).
AL QAEDA WANTS TO HARM THE UNITED STATES
Osamma Bin Laden, himself, in an interview with Peter Arnett, indicated three reasons why his Al Qaeda may have had a motive to attack the US (1) the US occupation of Saudi Arabia with troops during the Gulf War, (2) the unnecessary and prolonged suffering of the Iraqi people after the war due to US backed sanctions, and (3) the illegal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel also strongly supported by the US.
It is probably fair to say that the unprovoked, falsely justified invasion of Iraq has not further endeared the United States to Al Qaeda. It has been reported that Al Qaeda have flocked to Iraq to help to kill US military and civilian personnel.
Terrorism is not new, and our national leaders responsible for protecting our national security have not been as adept at detecting and preventing terrorism as they could have been. Dick Clark, former "Terrorist Czar" for several Presidents, has recently stated on CBSs 60 Minutes and in the print media and in his book, Against All Enemies, that George W. Bush ignored his warnings about Al Qaeda before 9-11 and that Bush and his key national security advisors wanted him (Clark) to find evidence linking Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq even though he, the CIA, and the FBI told him there was no such evidence. The Congressional 9-11 hearings have also shown the Clinton administration to have been somewhat inept.
We need honest, dedicated people with keen insight, knowledge, training, and experience to find, prevent, and neutralize terrorism and to act solely in the best interests of the United States. The US support of Israel in its occupation and genocide of the Palestinians and the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of the Iraqi people have fed the causes of the terrorists. These causes sow the seeds for more terrorists to attack US citizens wherever they may be. It is likely that Iraq will become Shiite Muslim-dominated and an enemy of the US in the not too distant future.
The solution is not to appease terrorists; but we must use diplomacy when prudent to do so; we must target known (not just suspected) terrorists before we "assassinate" or kill them or imprison them without due process; we must work with the international community to pool intelligence and military/police resources; and we must adhere to principles of international law when dealing in the international arena if we are to avoid becoming outlaws or "terrorists", ourselves. I believe that the US can neutralize Al Qaeda and its allies by pressing Israel to cease its assassinations, its military incursions into the occupied Palestinian cities, and by removing the settlements all actions encouraged by the United Nations. This will curry favor with the rest of the world and take away a cause the Palestinian issue from the terrorists. Remember, terrorists take action for causes. This is not appeasement; this is a sound international political tactic. The US needs the international community to take over Iraq after the US leaves on June 30, 2004.
Those who commit terrorist acts in their own country are called "domestic terrorists". In some respects domestic terrorism is more painful figuratively speaking because our fellow countrymen commit it. The "Unabomber", Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols all Americans disaffected with their country" policies. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the nations policies or even speaking out about it or even engaging in legitimate protests about the government or the political leaders, but one cannot use violence to "protest".
We have seen actions in this country which resulted from frustrations of people who feel that they are disconnected from their government. We live in turbulent times with a President and administration that much of this country simply does not like. Could we have a surge of domestic terrorism? Would we recognize "domestic terrorism" if we saw it? Will the government try to suppress legitimate First Amendment rights by calling certain actions "domestic terrorism"? Could the government become so oppressive that it could force the citizenry to take action consistent with the Declaration Of Independence which says that the people have a right and a duty to alter or abolish the existing government if that government becomes destructive of the ends and the rights of the people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
When I was on duty at the Pentagon as a reserve officer in 1992, I drafted a memorandum for the Chief, Security, Force Protections, and Law Enforcement Division, U.S. Army Military Police Operations Agency. This was at Department of Army level. After my tour, I had a telephone conversation with one of the other Colonels I had worked with, and he said that my memorandum stirred up a great deal of interest at the Pentagon.
See what you think of the memorandum that follows which was written over a decade ago: