This Week In Terrorism &Amp; Terrorist Funding

By EWI EXCLUSIVE | by K.D.M. Jensen
Monday, November 21st, 2011 @ 3:59AM

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I find it hard to believe, as the experts have it, that Al Qaeda isn’t what it was ten years ago.  Perhaps they mean that its structure and communications have been severely damaged or destroyed.  A look at this week’s terrorism news is once again a flood of reports on the killing of Al Qaeda operatives and affiliates.  I wonder if someone can tell us the total number of Al Qaeda kills since the demise of Osama bin Laden.  Must be in the hundreds unless it’s in the thousands.  Were there really ten times that many Al Qaeda operatives ten years ago?  It still seems there are quite a lot of them.  Again, if Al Qaeda sorts are taking it in the neck in South Asia, their affiliates in Africa seem to be doing (relatively) very well, e.g., Al Shabab in the Horn and East Africa and Boko Haram in Nigeria.  EWI Digest and Blog readers will be able to catch up on African events today.

This week also produced a number of interesting readings on counterterrorism. Israel and Kenya are cooperating with regard to Al Shabab and the Somali pirates, for one thing. One should also consider CAIR’s attack on those Muslims who, in Minneapolis for crying out loud, are not enthusiastic about Al Shabab. For another, there’s a new analysis of the CIA’s use of Afghan paramilitaries in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and the prospects for this as a wave of the future after the U.S. military leaves Afghanistan.  Afghan mercenaries are not nice guys, but clearly necessary.  This week, TSA was excoriated for incompetence and bloat, and assorted bad guys remain convinced that the NYPD is a creature of Israel.

There has also been quite a lot of attention to Hezbollah, both on its threat to begin a war with Israel if Syria and/or Iran is attacked, and its character and funding.  There are new reports of Hezbollah’s various business interests hither and yon, and connections with drug cartels in Latin America.

Most interesting, to me at least, has been a three-part series in the Army Times about intelligence and information gathering in Somalia and East Africa. Although limited to the Bush years, the story suggests that, whatever else the United States does, there remains a clear disposition to achieve from special ops and clandestine activity what we lack in human intelligence in places where we’ve had none regarding the war on terror.

I can’t help but mention that the Washington Times had a strange editorial the other day (see following) about the fact that the Obama Administration is ignoring the threat of nonviolient Islamic extremists (meaning those who would institute strict shari’a law).  Unfortunately, the Times argument, while on the money in several senses, is not well put. Had I been asked to write it, I would have said that the compatibility of shari’a and democracy is negligible.  Shari’a and the sort of freedom necessary to a functional democracy cannot be readily reconciled.  To invoke Bernard Lewis once again, shari’a and the Islamic beliefs it stems from, hold justice as the goal of government.  There is a tradition in Islam regarding the import of “consultation,” but no affirmation of freedom in the sense we understand it regarding democracies.

If one were to criticize Obama Administration policy with regard to Islamists (i.e., exponents of shari’a), one ought then to say that it is wrong to consider exponents of shari’a as if they were Catholics or Protestants demanding that their religious views be brought into public consideration related to, and in support of, democratic governance.

We have to accept that, in a large portion of the world, the secular state is not seen as a given or a gift.  It is alien and not wanted.  Converting those who see things differently to the virtue of religious freedom is seen as the imposition of an alien idea.

There are perfectly rational reasons why private religious belief and religiously tolerant political regimes are good for us.  But, to expect international political reconciliation from those who have not experienced this or have come from traditions in which theocracy has been either falsely claimed by tyrants, or completely suppressed, is a folly.

Perhaps it really is too much to expect a simple-minded Western democracy to understand the rest of a world that has not regarded the struggle between democracy and totalitarianism as central to our time.

Categories: Terrorist Financing

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