Terrorism Literature Report
(TLR) No. 68
22 August 2008
Article 1 “Foreign Fighters: How Are They Being Recruited? Two Imperfect Recruitment Models,” by Clinton Watts, Small Wars Journal Blog, 22 June 2008. Currently, debate focuses on two models of foreign fighter recruitment and transit to theaters of open conflict.
The first model is one of top-down recruitment where Al-Qaeda (AQ) recruits young men and coordinates their travel to an operational theater.
The second model suggests the opposite where young men recruit themselves and find their way to open theaters of conflict joining a global jihadi movement inspired but not necessarily led by AQ.
In fact, neither of these models adequately illustrates modern jihadi recruitment patterns in the Middle East and North Africa.
First, the models assign too much importance to the Internet in the Middle East and North Africa; second, Al-Qaeda globally or locally does not have sufficient operational space, communication, and logistical support to execute large-scale, top-down recruitment; and third, both of these models ignore the key role played by veteran foreign fighters, who are extremely effective radicalizers, recruiters, and coordinators.
Article 2 “Deconstructing Political Orthodoxies on Insurgent and Terrorist Sanctuaries,” by Michael A. Innes, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 31, No. 3, March 2008. Notions of sanctuary are ubiquitous, embedded in legislative frameworks, political and religious conventions, cultures of hospitality, and codes of honor and revenge the world over.
Terrorists operate across a broad spectrum of political, insurgent, and criminal realms. Their sanctuaries go to the heart of debates on national security because of the questions they raise about the interface between states and individuals, and the complex moral and practical outcomes of counterterrorist operations.
To fully understand sanctuaries, however, is to uncover the problems and pitfalls of waging war on locations—exposing the secret lives of multiple hidden worlds. This murky underground is far more complex and varied than the conventional wisdom suggests.
Sanctuary, in the broadest send of the term, might be just as usefully defined according to what terrorists are thinking, and what they are trying to protect, accomplish, or hide from. Critics of the War on Terror have quite rightly pointed to the futility of essentially waging war on a tactic. Waging war on locations is just as problematic.
Article 3 “Bojinka II: The Transatlantic Liquid Bomb Plot,” NEFA Foundation (Nine/Eleven Finding Answers), April 2008. This item, 23 pages-long and well-documented, is Report No. 15 in the NEFA series, “Target: America.” Sources include various open source media documents and statements from multiple international government officials and agencies.
The report’s sections include: the plotters: England and Pakistan; operational details of the plot; the number of flights, carriers, and routes targeted; planned detonation location—over U.S. cities?; planned timing of the attacks; the projected impact of the attacks; bomb-making efforts; recording martyrdom videos—and authoring a last will; additional material seized by investigators; the plot’s links to Al-Qaeda; Rashid Rauf’s alleged links to Al-Qaeda and Pakistani extremist groups; and the Pakistan connection.
Article 4 “Islam and War: A Review Essay,” by John C. Zimmerman, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 20, No. 3, July 2008. Five books are treated in this book review essay including:
(1) Raymond Ibrahim, editor, The Al-Qaeda Reader;
(2) Shmuel Bar, Warrant for Terror: The Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad;
(3) John Kelsay, Arguing the Just War in Islam;
(4) David Bukay, From Muhammad to Bin Laden:
Religious and Ideological Sources of the Homicide Bombers Phenomenon; and (5) T. P. Schwartz-Barcott, War, Terror, and Peace in the Quran and in Islam:
Insights for Military and Government Leaders.
The TLR has been published at least monthly since October 2003 by Interaction Systems Incorporated (email@example.com). TLR issues are intended for non-profit research and educational use only. Quoted material is subject to the copyright protections associated with the original sources.
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Article 1 Return to TLR Cover Page
1. “Foreign Fighters: How Are They Being Recruited? Two Imperfect Recruitment Models,” by Clinton Watts, Small Wars Journal Blog, 22 June 2008.
[KBTZRecruiting, KBTZOrigins, KBTCInternet, KBTGStrategies, KBTWPublicDiplomacy] Clinton Watts previously served as a U.S. Army infantry officer, an FBI special agent, and executive officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC). He currently serves as the director for international and national programs at PJ Sage, Inc.
As noted at http://www.jihadica.com/new-iraq-foreign-fighter-study, Watts has studied and reported on a collection of foreign fighter data from Sinjar, Iraq.
From http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/06/foreign-fighters-how-are-they we quote:
Currently, debate focuses on two models of foreign fighter recruitment and transit to theaters of open conflict.
The first model is one of top-down recruitment where Al-Qaeda (AQ) recruits young men and coordinates their travel to an operational theater.
The second model suggests the opposite where young men recruit themselves and find their way to open theaters of conflict joining a global jihadi movement inspired but not necessarily led by AQ.
Both models assign a role to the Internet in this process. The first model (top-down) holds that militant propaganda on the Internet makes young men susceptible to recruiters. The second model (bottom-up) holds that the Internet not only radicalizes young men, but also helps them find a way to travel to open theaters of conflict.
The Sinjar records illustrate that neither of these models adequately illustrates modern jihadi recruitment patterns in the Middle East and North Africa.
First, the models assign too much importance to the Internet in the Middle East and North Africa, where it plays a limited role in radicalizing, recruiting, and coordinating young men.
Second, Sinjar data does not portray Al-Qaeda globally or locally to have sufficient operational space, communication, and logistical support to execute large-scale, top-down recruitment.
Third, both of these models ignore the key role played by veteran foreign fighters, who are extremely effective radicalizers, recruiters, and coordinators. . . .
What to think of our two recruitment models
Certainly, official AQ members at times directly initiate recruitment in North African and Middle Eastern countries. Occasionally, individuals self-radicalize and independently seek out the greater jihad, possibly using the Internet for ideological indoctrination and communication with facilitators.
However, both of these scenarios represent only a portion of foreign fighter recruitment. Most North African and Middle Eastern foreign fighters are instead recruited through social, family, and religious networks empowered by former foreign fighters who catalyze the radicalization process.
These local networks are efficient, built for the community, and adaptable to local conditions. Such networks are difficult to create in either a hierarchical AQ Central (top-down) or a self-selecting (bottom-up) system.
An alternative foreign fighter recruitment model might reflect all three patterns described above. My hypothesis for future research estimates that global foreign fighter flow consists of roughly the following:
Self-selecting (bottom-up) recruitment accounts for ten to 15 percent of global foreign fighter recruitment. These self-recruits consist largely of second and third generation Muslims and converts to jihadi doctrine based in Western countries, the majority of which reside in the European Union.
Their increased Internet access and propensity for militancy help radicalize them locally before moving through select intermediaries to more formal networks. These individuals are inexperienced, untrained, and often a liability to the larger AQ movement as their conduct may stray from AQ’s global message, and their operational and security mishaps endanger the group.
However, their access to Western targets and their propaganda value remain a coveted prize for AQ and a worthwhile risk.
AQ hierarchical (top-down) recruitment accounts for an additional ten to 15 percent of global foreign fighter recruitment. AQ, under intense pressure from Western military and intelligence, expends effort to specifically recruit individuals that maintain valuable skills in weaponry, media, operational planning, finance, and logistics.
These recruits pose the greatest threat globally as their knowledge, skills, and experience create hallmark AQ attacks and maintain organizational coherence. While self-recruits are dangerous due to their access, these direct recruits are dangerous due to their ability.
Former foreign fighters embedded in family, religious, and social networks in flashpoint North African and Middle Eastern cities produce between 60 and 80 percent of global foreign fighter recruitment.
Jihadi veterans and their networks are the center of gravity not only for Al-Qaeda but also for decades of jihadi militancy. These communities are motivated not only by militant ideology but by their perceived oppression from the West economically and politically, frustration over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the influence of Western values on their culture.
High foreign fighter-producing communities sustained the Afghan jihad during the 1980s, provide for current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will be the thread for future militant efforts at the close of current conflicts.
Radicalization—Fear not what you can see, but what you cannot see
Western fixation with AQ’s propaganda has resulted in over-focus on countering media outlets that likely have limited and at best a secondary recruiting impact in high foreign fighter-producing cities and countries.
While AQ mass media propaganda is an important factor in the war of ideas, it should be addressed more in Western counterterrorism efforts in Western countries where socially isolated second and third generation Muslims and Western converts have limited direct access to militant ideologies, limited access to veteran foreign fighters, increased access to the Internet, and a propensity to access militant Websites.
The two non-Western exceptions to this might be Saudi Arabia and Morocco, which appear to have sufficient access and desire to utilize militant Websites. However, the plethora of former foreign fighters in Saudi Arabia and Morocco is far more likely the radicalization culprit with the Internet acting as a distant second factor.
The West should fear instead what it cannot see on the Internet: the day-to-day interactions and subsequent radicalization occurring when veteran foreign fighters encounter young recruits in living rooms, ideological centers, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods in flashpoint cities. . . . [City] and nodal strategies are far more likely to disrupt the radicalization process than regional and country approaches.
Within these city and nodal strategies, counterterrorism efforts should focus on the social and religious networks and look to interrupt or fragment face-to-face recruitment.
Information operations and public diplomacy efforts might identify local leaders that counter the jihadi narrative and subtly amplify their message through appropriate print and radio communications.
Counter narratives should diminish the image of veteran fighters, casting them as a stain on local communities rather than a badge of honor. Accounts of foreign fighter atrocities and Muslim suffering from these atrocities must be injected into local dialogue in flashpoint cities.
Currently, flashpoint cities hear the glory of jihad from returning foreign fighters, the aggression of Western forces from local media outlets, and little of the suffering of local Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of foreign fighters.
One information operations strategy might create coverage of the foreign fighter equivalent of the My Lai massacre from Vietnam. North African and Middle Eastern journalists could follow the path of their local foreign fighters and report on Iraqi and Afghan suffering due to their local recruits. Such methods would ideally reduce the perceived value locally of becoming a foreign fighter globally.
Worry about the flow of fighters into Iraq—Worry more about the flow of fighters out of Iraq
While the distribution and number of foreign fighters is alarming, foreign fighters leaving the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan are of greater concern. Looking at the hypothetical global foreign fighter flow outlined above, Western military and intelligence efforts continue to dismantle Al-Qaeda in South Asia and Iraq, thwarting top-down recruitment.
Western law enforcement and immigration measures continue to improve identifying emerging cells before becoming operational. However, former fighters from flashpoint cities, the majority of Sinjar fighters, pose a tremendous challenge as national sovereignty prevents Western military, intelligence, and law enforcement assets from effectively penetrating local networks. Instead, the West must rely on North African and Middle Eastern governments to execute counter-radicalization efforts.
These efforts vary in effectiveness and potentially exacerbate local recruitment.
Western counterterrorism elements should make foreign fighter tracking as seamless as foreign fighter recruitment. Integration and analysis of immigration and travel patterns between flashpoint cities, Western countries, Iraq, and Afghanistan must be combined with military efforts overseas and law enforcement efforts locally.
Western countries might tie counterterrorism funding to participation in an international foreign fighter-tracking program, which Western intelligence and law enforcement can utilize to track migration patterns from flashpoint cities.
While executing this will require a delicate touch, it will focus on the real counterterrorism goal, which is preventing trained foreign fighters from creating more attacks globally and recruits locally. Western analysts, from a national to a local level, should establish intelligence tripwires for law enforcement encountering individuals from flashpoint cities.
Reducing global foreign fighter recruitment requires synchronization between the military eliminating formal AQ, diplomatic, surrogate, and information campaigns penetrating foreign fighter networks in flashpoint cities, law enforcement disrupting cells domestically, and intelligence organizations coordinating and synthesizing across all three battlefields.
The foregoing is Article No. 1 (TL068A01) in the Terrorism Literature Report (TLR), No. 68, 22 August 2008, prepared by Interaction Systems Incorporated (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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Article 2 Return to TLR Cover Page
2. “Deconstructing Political Orthodoxies on Insurgent and Terrorist Sanctuaries,” by Michael A. Innes, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 31, No. 3, March 2008. [KBTITheory, KBTQNetwork, KBTGStrategies, KBTZGeneral]. Michael A. Innes is affiliated with the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom. We quote from this article from http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/407816798-81458445/content~content=a790743753~db=all~order=page:
. . . There are as many ways, places, and reasons to hide as there are approaches to understanding and locating the hidden. Notions of sanctuary are ubiquitous, embedded in legislative frameworks, political and religious conventions, cultures of hospitality, and codes of honor and revenge the world over. Their varied and subtle facets have traditionally been depicted in ways that relate to individual human beings, but they are also more generally places and spaces apart, where real and perceived challenges to established order can thrive and persist. . . .
. . . In the post-9/11 world, Afghanistan was seen to be the archetypal terrorist base of operations, linking official sponsorship of terrorism, failed state vulnerability to terrorist exploitation, and the absence of international legitimacy that underscores both. Terrorist sanctuaries have since captured the collective attention. The sad truth, evidenced in the post-Cold War record of so-called intelligence failures, is that one knows precious little about the terrorist underground beyond what its denizens choose to reveal.
[Sanctuaries, murky underground far more complex, varied than commonly believed]
One’s perceptions and understanding of terrorism, insurgency, and war have been in a continual process of negotiation with events and trends in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Istanbul, London, and Madrid. Military and counterterrorist campaigns have raised important questions on how one deal’s with security both at home and elsewhere in the world. Terrorist sanctuaries have been at the center of such discussions, and they remain important for several reasons.
Terrorists operate across a broad spectrum of political, insurgent, and criminal realms. Their sanctuaries go to the heart of debates on national security because of the questions they raise about the interface between states and individuals, and the complex moral and practical outcomes of counterterrorist operations. Critics of the War on Terror have pointed to the futility of waging war on a tactic. Its emphasis on denying “sanctuary” and “safe havens” to terrorists, rooted primarily in a thin layer of traditional counterinsurgency theory and poorly conceptualized policy statements, has placed a premium on physical territory, from mountain caves and frontier hideouts to the bordered world of modern states.
To fully understand sanctuaries, however, is to uncover the problems and pitfalls of waging war on locations—exposing the secret lives of multiple hidden worlds, filled with extremists, criminals, soldiers, and spies, with the pious and the profane, with dangers that lie below the surface and in the margins. This murky underground is far more complex and varied than the conventional wisdom suggests.
Terrorists have hidden in plain sight in modern metropolises, used advanced communications technology to build virtual refuges, crafted militant enclaves out of the disarray of failed states, flocked to distinctly unsafe insurgent battlespaces, and generally challenged the protective limits of law, citizenship, and state. . . .
[Conventional wisdom on terrorist sanctuaries incomplete, awkward, often conflicting]
. . . The conventional wisdom [about terrorist sanctuaries] can be summed up as follows:
· Terrorist sanctuaries are embedded within the structures of states, whether those states are strong or deficient.
· They are geographical phenomena, linked to the physical territories of states, often behind poorly secured political and natural borders.
· They are primarily rural phenomena, concentrated in the countryside or on the rugged frontiers between states.
· They are both isolated and accessible, with low population density.
· They provide terrorists the time, space, and resources to gather, organize, learn, rehearse, test and implement plans, weapons, skills, beliefs, and so on.
· They are bases for numerous types of activity, including leadership, financing, command, control, communications, sponsorship, support, propaganda, and recruiting.
Taken in the aggregate, these six pieces of conventional wisdom offer a conceptual point of departure that is incomplete, awkward, sometimes misleading, and often conflicting. . . .
[Policy formulations to deal with terrorist Internet use clearly inadequate for problem set]
. . . Whether terrorists exist as atomized cells along dispersed transnational networks, gather in numbers for training or planning purposes, or coalesce as semi-cohesive squads for insurgent activity in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Iraq, understanding their clandestine refuges will require a much wider array of considerations than policy perspectives have provided thus far. [Former Deputy Secretary of Defense] Paul Wolfowitz’s four-part typology of democratic, territorial, ideological, and virtual sanctuaries is a case in point.
Consider the geographic emphasis of territory, implying terrain within a well-defined system of political boundaries. The obvious elision is that solitary terrorists need neither vast expanses of countryside nor bordered areas of sovereign territory in which to operate, but rather physical space needed for their personal survival and subsistence. Collapsing or expanding it to fit more or less terrorists is an issue of scale, but does not change the basic corporeal fact of their existence. They occupy the kind of spaces that do not exist in the absence of states, but instead are enabled by channels and conduits that pass between, over and through them—exploitable sites and pathways, in other words, that defy the power and reach of government.
The sovereignty of such space is another debatable quality, encompassing the political entitlements of legitimate states, as well as the human rights of individuals within them. Such sites might be conceived of at two basic levels: macro-level sanctuaries, with defined political or natural borders, including non-state, sub-state, multi-state, and international areas; and micro-level sanctuaries, that operate irrespective of the role, participation, or presence of states. The political geography of terrorist sanctuaries, with its dynamic “small world topology” of place, space, scale, and linkages between them, addresses this multidimensionality and the shearing force between dispersed social networks and the territorial states they overlay.
Consider also that government efforts to qualify public understanding of ideology in this context often come across as thinly veiled cultural critiques. Setting this aside, ideology is constrained in its focus on revolutionary belief-sets or worldviews that can be real or perceived threats to the status quo. The issue is important, but it does not address the range of terrorist preferences or mentalités: the pragmatic needs of terrorists or their movements, the psychological spaces that captured and underground combatants make for themselves, the cultural masks and inhibitors that may guide their and their leaders’ selection of particular sites and forms of refuge, or the measures terrorists take to compartment their own operational and information security.
For jihadi terrorists, for example, martyrdom may ensure the path to heaven, but social welfare and support to the families of suicide attackers arguably offer relief or refuge from economic distress—pointing to what may be poorly understood incentives for terrorist activity. Prisons are another physical location that can offer psychological and intellectual haven for terrorists. Incarceration represents denial of individual freedom, but provides captive audiences in what all too often become breeding grounds for various forms of radicalization. In this context, “ideology” is inadequate to the complexities of terrorist intent, motive, and psychology, and neglects the broader role of incentives, rewards, and context in the calculus of terrorist activity.
Finally, virtuality is a key element of contemporary terrorist threats, facilitating both domestic and transnational terrorism through access to digital and Internet-based channels for command, control, communications, and intelligence (in military terms, “C3I”).
But a policy focus that suggests virtual sanctuaries are little more than Internet-based communications platforms, also potentially exaggerates the disconnect—paradoxically—between the physical spaces occupied by the Internet’s terrorist users, and the informational requirements that guide, inform, and inspire their exploitation of various means of communication—electronic or otherwise. It also minimizes an element of terrorist virtuality directly related to its informational dimensions.
Policymakers have referred repeatedly to terrorist use of the Internet for online recruitment, training, and so on, and called the process “virtual” or the place “cyber” (or vice versa). But virtuality, meaning a perceived or imagined sense of things, is also the basic psychological factor that separates terrorism from other forms of political violence. The fear of horrible death or injury is what makes terrorism such a potent force and what makes it as much a psychological as a physical threat to security. Multiple meanings of virtuality also indicate that this pillar of official policy formulations is clearly inadequate to the problem set.
Ultimately, terrorist preferences and requirements governing the role of sanctity, safety, and secrecy are much more relevant than artificial—and hastily constructed—political confections put together by speech writers working under undoubtedly extreme time pressures. Taking into account political objectives and motives, such as degrees of intended subversion, could help establish a more accurate and clearly defined understanding of clandestine and fugitive actors and their refuges.
All of which brings one back to the logic of separating sanctuary from various other aspects of terrorist activity. The conventional wisdom clearly differentiates sanctuary from sponsorship, support, leadership, finance, command, control, communications, and so on. But it also clusters such characteristics into democratic, territorial, ideological, and virtual domains.
The first approach predicates the distinctiveness of sanctuary on its physical attributes, whereas the second identifies a crosshatch of vaguely defined categories. Such policy perspectives do not convincingly identify or reconcile the often confusing array of terrorist-related phenomena. Do they set up false distinctions between what are arguably related issues? Cracks in the system, where terrorist interests, sites, and pathways function as specialized niches of clandestine activity, certainly bear closer study.
Sanctuary, in the broadest sense of the term, might be just as usefully defined according to what terrorists are thinking, and what they are trying to protect, accomplish, or hide from. Critics of the War on Terror have quite rightly pointed to the futility of essentially waging war on a tactic. It is a philosophical turn of phrase, better suited to politicking than defining the practical conduct of war. Waging war on locations is just as problematic.
The foregoing is Article No. 2 (TL068A02) in the Terrorism Literature Report (TLR), No. 68, 22 August 2008, prepared by Interaction Systems Incorporated (email@example.com).
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3. “Bojinka II: The Transatlantic Liquid Bomb Plot,” NEFA Foundation (Nine/Eleven Finding Answers), April 2008. This item, 23 pages-long and well-documented, is Report No. 15 in the NEFA series, “Target: America.” [KBTDBojinka2, KBTSBritain, KBTSPakWT] From http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/FeaturedDocs/Bojinka2LiquidBombs.pdf we quote:
The plotters: England and Pakistan
Following the August 2006 arrest of twenty-four British-born Muslims, the Crown Prosecution Service charged twelve individuals for their role in a conspiracy targeting transatlantic flights. Those charged with conspiracy to murder for “their intention to smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board” were Ahmed Abdullah Ali, Tanvir Hussain, Brian Young (AKA Umar Islam), Arafat Waheed Khan, Assad Ali Sarwar, Adam Khatib, Ibrahim Savant, Waheed Zaman, Nabeel Hussain, Mohammed Yasar Gulzar, Mohammed Shamin Uddin, and Donald Stewart-Whyte (AKA Abdul Waheed). Further, Mohammed Usman Saddique will be tried separately for preparing acts of terrorism and possessing a “CD containing titles such as ‘Bombs and More.’” And, Cossar Ali, who is Ahmed Abdullah Ali’s wife, was charged with failing to disclose information that “might be of material assistance in preventing the commission of . . . an act of terrorism.” The first trial began in April 2008.
Concurrent with the British arrests, Pakistani authorities arrested seven individuals. Media reports have also asserted that “as many as 50 participants and accomplices were involved,” comprising three cells that “may not have been aware of the others or the extent of their assignment.” As the Wall Street Journal explains [on 11 August 2006], “members of the outer cell purchased supplies, rented apartments, and transferred money needed by members of the inner cell. . . Members of the inner cell planned the attacks and at least some were preparing to participate in the missions. Both the inner and outer cells had been actively preparing the attack for more than six months but all the members may not have known each other.”
Operational details of the plot
The day [10 August 2006] of the United Kingdom arrests, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the suspects allegedly “engaged in a plot to detonate liquid explosives on board multiple commercial aircraft departing from the United Kingdom and bound for the United States. . . . The terrorists planned to carry the components of the bombs, including liquid explosive ingredients and detonating devices disguised as beverages, electronic devices, or other common objects.” He added, “I would say . . . one of the concerns we had is the possibility of bringing on board a number of different components of a bomb, each one of which would be benign, but when mixed together would create a bomb.” Chertoff further revealed that the suicide bombings were to occur “essentially at the same time.”
Since Chertoff made those initial statements, additional information has come to light about the plotters’ intentions. Multiple press sources have reported that the conspirators planned to bring the liquid explosives onto planes in factory-sealed sports drink bottles modified with false bottoms; ABC News also reported that “the terrorists planned to dye the explosive mixture red to match the sports drink sealed in the top half of the container.” In an August 2007 interview, Michael Chertoff supplemented this data by confirming prior reports that two conspirators intended to bring their baby on board and hide explosives in the infant’s bottle. And to initiate the explosions, open sources indicate the terrorists planned on using the flash from a disposable camera.
Evaluating the plot, Chertoff remarked: “This was a very sophisticated plan and operation. This is not a circumstance where you had a handful of people sitting around coming up with dreamy ideas about terrorist plots. The conception, the large number of people involved, the sophisticated design of the devices that were being considered, and the sophisticated nature of the plan all suggests that this group that came together to conspire was very determined and very skilled and very capable . . . this was a plot that is certainly about as sophisticated as any we’ve seen in recent years. . . .” . . .
The number of flights, carriers, and routes targeted
In the two years prior to the April 2008 trial of eight conspirators, authorities refused to publicly, officially identify the exact number of flights, carriers, and routes targeted by the conspirators. . . . Reflecting the authorities’ uncertainty about the exact intentions of the plotters, August 2006 media reporting, citing anonymous officials, was highly inconsistent, of the number of targeted flights ranging widely. For example, the Wall Street Journal claimed there were six such flights, while The Times Online (London) put the number at 12.
An extraordinarily detailed 28 August 2006 New York Times article, which was based on interviews with “five senior British officials” and which was banned from publication in the United Kingdom to avoid prejudicing potential jurors, asserted that British investigators felt the “estimate of 10 planes” was “speculative and exaggerated.” DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff provided additional insight into this question in an August 2007 interview, when he discussed the consequences of the would-be bombers “bringing liquid explosives on seven or eight aircraft.”
The list of carriers to be attacked has also not been made public, though DHS official Michael P. Jackson noted that the plotters’ focus “centered upon carriers that had direct, non-stop flights between the U.K. and U.S.” And Michael Chertoff stated that the group “focused on . . . U.S.-flagged carriers,” though he provided no further information.
Despite the ambiguity in official circles, media reporting has been far more consistent on this issue, as Continental Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines were repeatedly cited by press sources such as the Wall Street Journal, Time, ABC News, and NBC News. Moreover, British Airways was mentioned in a number of open source reports.
Between August 2006 and April 2008, press reporting served as the sole source for information on the routes identified by the operatives. Some of the final destinations mentioned included New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Then, in a surprise revelation at the start of the conspirators’ trial in April 2008, a British judge and prosecutors revealed that the bombers also planned to target Air Canada flights bound for Toronto and Montreal.
Planned detonation location—over U.S. cities?
In the immediate aftermath of the plot’s disruption, DHS Chief Intelligence Officer Charlie Allen declared, “we have no evidence there was targeting of cities. . . . This was an effort to destroy multiple aircraft in flight—not against any territory of the United States.” DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff added, “I am not aware of any indication that the intent was to make the plane into a weapon.”
However, in October 2006, Mark Mershon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, told a security conference, “The plan was [to] bring them down over U.S. cities, not over the ocean.” Mershon cited a recent briefing that MI5 delivered to the FBI as his source for the new information; Mershon noted that “it would make your hair stand up to be in the room to hear that presentation.”
Planned timing of the attacks
When the arrests were made on 10 August 2006, some analysts pondered whether the attacks were slated to take place on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. However, government officials have downplayed that speculation. DHS Chief Intelligence Officer Charlie Allen stated, “I am a long-standing believer that terrorist plotters or planners execute when they have all of the plot together. . . . We have no evidence this was timed to any particular holiday or special event.” DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff concurred, saying, “I can tell you our general experience, certainly when you deal with Al-Qaeda . . . is that they’re not necessarily motivated by anniversaries the way sometimes people project.”
Providing additional information on the likely timing of the attacks, Chertoff assessed, “I would say that this plot was well advanced. In other words, they had accumulated and assembled the capabilities that they needed, and they were in the final stages of planning before execution . . . this is not a case where this was just in the initial thought stage. There were very concrete steps underway to execute all elements of this plan.” Interviewed in August 2007, Chertoff supplemented this analysis by revealing, “I got a call telling me that it looked as if the focus had turned . . . [to] an attack on the United States. . . . It also became evident, within 24 hours, that the time frame within which the attack was going to take place, would not be a matter of months but a matter of weeks or even days.”
At the time of their arrests, the conspirators had already researched flight schedules on the Internet; as Kip Hawley, head of the Transportation Security Administration, commented, “They were clicking online all over the place.” The plotters were also allegedly planning to imminently carry out a dry run to ensure they could successfully smuggle bomb components on board.
Additionally, following Pakistan’s arrest of alleged cell member Rashid Rauf—which reportedly took place without British authorities being notified—a co-conspirator communicated an urgent message to the United Kingdom-based network; Franco Frattini, the European Union’s security commissioner, told the media that the British plotters “received a very short message to ‘Go now.’” (According to the New York Times, “a senior British official said the message from Pakistan was not that explicit.”)
However, there is no open source evidence that plane tickets had been bought. And, The New York Times’ lengthy account asserted that two of the individuals lacked passports, though they had requested expedited approval. The Times further reported that British authorities would have continued to monitor the conspiracy, but felt compelled to act when the plotters learned of Rauf’s arrest. The Brits were supposedly concerned that the operatives would destroy evidence, flee, or that an unknown cell would spring into action.
The projected impact of the attacks
If the planned attacks were successfully carried out, the results would have been devastating, as a number of U.S. and British officials have pointed out. When announcing the plot’s disruption, Paul Stephenson, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police, commented, “this was a plan by terrorists to cause untold death and destruction and commit mass murder.” And British Home Secretary John Reid stated, “Had this plot been carried out, the loss of life to innocent civilians would have been on an unprecedented scale.”
Across the Atlantic Ocean, U.S. authorities echoed these stark assessments. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff remarked, “I think that the plot, in terms of its intent, was looking at devastation on a scale that would have rivaled 9/11. . . there could have been thousands of lives lost and an enormous economic impact with devastating consequences for international air travel.” New York Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, agreed that “we’re talking about thousands of people being killed.”
In its extensive article on the plot, the New York Times reported that in June 2005, with $260,000 in cash, one of the suspects purchased an apartment on London’s Forest Road that served as a bomb factory for the conspirators. Anonymous British officials told the Times that a number of experiments were conducted and there were likely two bomb-makers. And when MI5 agents carried out a covert search, they purportedly “discovered that the inside of batteries had been scooped out, and . . . it appeared several suspects were doing chemical experiments with a sports drink named Lucozade and syringes. . . .”
Then, again, according to the Times, when authorities raided the Forest Road apartment on 10 August 2006, “they found a plastic bin filled with liquid, batteries, nearly a dozen empty drink bottles, rubber gloves, digital scales, and a disposable camera that was leaking liquid. . . .” What’s more, Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police Service Anti-Terrorist Branch, revealed that “since 10 August we have found bomb making equipment. There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents, and other items.” . . .
Some press reports have questioned whether the operatives possessed the necessary technical skills to succeed in their mission. However, tests conducted at Sandia National Laboratory confirmed that the explosives formula the suspects were utilizing was viable and capable of causing a “large explosion.” Additionally, NBC News has reported that conspirators tested the mixture in Pakistan.
Recording martyrdom videos—and authoring a last will
Shortly after the arrest of the conspirators, [the Metropolitan Police’s] Peter Clarke . . . announced: “We have . . . found a number of video recordings—these are sometimes referred to as martyrdom videos.” According to the New York Times, six suspects recorded seven videos. . . .
The New York Times asserted that one of the cell members penned a last will and testament, which was located at his brother’s home [and which was dated 24 September 2004]. . . .
Additional material seized by investigators
In a press release issued eleven days after the first arrests in England, [Peter Clarke] said:
“There have been 69 searches. These have been in houses, flats, and business premises, vehicles, and open spaces . . . we have found more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones, and 8,000 items of removable storage media such as memory sticks, CDs, and DVDs. So far, from the computers alone, we have removed some 6,000 gigabytes of data.”
Additionally, the New York Times reported that one suspect possessed a “diary that included a list that the police interpreted as a step-by-step plan for an attack. The items included batteries and Lucozade bottles. It also included a reminder to select a date.” When searching some of the suspects’ residences, authorities also discovered an array of jihadist material, including literature and DVDs. Some of those DVDs depicted the purported “genocide” in Palestine and Iraq. Abdullah Azzam’s “Defense of the Muslim Lands” was also reportedly seized at one location in Walthamstow.
The plot’s links to Al-Qaeda
Shortly after the plot’s disruption, U.S. officials made guarded statements about the conspiracy’s links to Al-Qaeda’s central leadership. . . . [DHS’s] Charlie Allen commented, “We’re not convinced this particular operation is connected to the Al-Qaeda chain of command.” DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff concurred, asserting that although “this operation is, in some respects, suggestive of an Al-Qaeda plot . . . we cannot yet form a definitive conclusion.”
The next day, Chertoff added, “certainly in terms of the complexity, the sophistication, the international dimension, and the number of people involved, this plot has the hallmarks of an Al-Qaeda-type plot.”
These DHS analyses were echoed by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who pointed out that the conspiracy “had the earmarks of an Al-Qaeda plot” and was “suggestive of Al-Qaeda direction and planning.” (Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, issued the most definitive take, saying, “It clearly is an Al-Qaeda-type operation with links to Al-Qaeda.”)
In contrast to the general reticence of U.S. authorities to firmly tie the plan to Al-Qaeda, Pakistani officials went on the record with a different perspective. For instance, Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, declared, “Clear evidence leads to an Al-Qaeda connection in Afghanistan.” In August 2006, some anonymous Pakistani security sources identified now-detained Al-Qaeda official Abu Faraj al-Libi as the mastermind of the plot.
However, in 2007 and 2008 reporting, a different Al-Qaeda mastermind was identified. In September 2007, the Washington Post wrote that Abu Ubaidah al-Masri, an Egyptian serving as Al-Qaeda’s “external operations chief,” was the terror network’s “conduit to the British-Pakistani cells that carried out the 7 July 2005 public transit bombings in London as well as the failed transatlantic airliner plot in Britain in 2006.”
An extensive April 2008 Los Angeles Times article echoed this analysis, quoting an anonymous Western intelligence official who said, “The airline plot is his thing.” The article added that investigators believe al-Masri received instructions from his superiors; a senior British official stated, “We have patchy intelligence on the relationship and structure between external operations figures and [Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-] Zawahiri and bin Laden. In the really big plots, we think they played a role.” While additional unclassified information remains limited on this topic, a substantial amount of data has come to light on key plotter Rashid Rauf and his alleged ties to Al-Qaeda. . . .
Rashid Rauf’s alleged links to Al-Qaeda and Pakistani extremist groups
After Rashid Rauf’s arrest, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, the Pakistani interior minister, labeled Rauf a “key Al-Qaeda operative.” Open source reporting has linked Rauf to a number of high-ranking terrorists. For example, NBC News reported that Rauf had contacts with Amjad Hussein Farooqi, whom Sherpao called “the chief Al-Qaeda contact in Pakistan”; Farooqi, who belonged to Laskar-i-Jhangvi and hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in December 1999, was reportedly involved in two assassination attempts on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, as well as the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
NBC further claimed that after accompanying Farooqi to Afghanistan in mid-2002, Rauf “became a regular visitor . . . traveling to various parts of the country to meet Al-Qaeda figures.” In the wake of Farooqi’s death, Rauf allegedly “established . . . direct and regular contact with Abu Faraj al-Libi. . .”, whom the U.S. government believes “was responsible for Al-Qaeda activities and logistics throughout Pakistan.”
Additionally, the Washington Post has claimed that Rauf “reported to” Abu Ubaidah al-Masri, an Egyptian serving as Al-Qaeda’s “external operations chief.” Rauf was also allegedly involved with Jaish-e-Mohammed [JeM], though there is no public evidence tying that organization to the conspiracy. Rauf reportedly became acquainted with JeM’s leadership at the Darul Uloom Madina, a hard-line madrassa founded by his father-in-law. Moreover, Rauf’s wife’s sister married Tahir Masood, the younger brother of the founder of JeM. . . .
The Pakistan connection
A Washington Post report, citing interviews with U.S. and European officials, identified Pakistan as the “hub” of the conspiracy, which “drew financial and logistical support from sponsors operating in Karachi and Lahore.” Moreover, several alleged planners supposedly traveled to Pakistan in the months before their arrest “to seek instructions and confer with unknown conspirators. . . .”
While there are claims some of the individuals attended training camps in Pakistan, with an April 2008 Los Angeles Times article placing the number of attendees at six, this allegation has not been confirmed by official, on-the-record sources. . . .
The foregoing is Article No. 3 (TL068A03) in the Terrorism Literature Report (TLR), No. 68, 22 August 2008, prepared by Interaction Systems Incorporated (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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4. “Islam and War: A Review Essay,” by John C. Zimmerman, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 20, No. 3, July 2008. [KBTZIslam, KBTTSuicide, KBTZBibliography] Five books are treated in this book review essay by John C. Zimmerman who is affiliated with the University of Nevada Las Vegas: (1) Raymond Ibrahim, editor. The Al-Qaeda Reader. New York: Broadway Books, 2007, 318 pages. Paper $10.85. (2) Shmuel Bar. Warrant for Terror: The Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006, 134 pages. Hardcover $16.46. (3) John Kelsay. Arguing the Just War in Islam. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007, 263 pages. Hardcover $16.47. (4) David Bukay. From Muhammad to Bin Laden: Religious and Ideological Sources of the Homicide Bombers Phenomenon. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2008, 377 pages. Hardcover $49.95. And (5) T. P. Schwartz-Barcott. War, Terror, and Peace in the Quran and in Islam: Insights for Military and Government Leaders. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Army War College Foundation Press, 2004, 401 pages. Hardcover $26.95. We quote from this article from http://www.informaworld.com/1556-1836:
In April 2002 Al-Qaeda issued a lengthy statement giving seven justifications for targeting civilians in terrorist attacks. Two experts who analyzed the document wrote: “The sheer breadth of these conditions leaves ample theological justification for killing civilians in almost any imaginable situation.”
[Bin Laden: Muslims cannot abandon offensive jihad because it is a basic tenet of Islam]
In The Al-Qaeda Reader, Raymond Ibrahim has translated and masterfully assembled a number of key statements by Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, that shed light on their views. The centerpiece of this collection is a long exegesis by bin Laden entitled “Moderate Islam is a Prostration to the West.” Most of bin Laden’s communiques are intended to be read in the West as well as by Muslims. However, this statement was solely intended for a Muslim audience. He denounces a declaration by Saudi intellectuals that seeks coexistence with non-Muslims “as if one of the foundations of our religion is how to coexist with infidels” (p. 23).
Bin Laden rejects arguments that the West does not understand Islam. Rather, he acknowledges that there is a great deal of scholarship in the West on Islam. However, the reason for Western hostility is the Islamic doctrine of offensive jihad, which the West wants Muslims to abandon. Offensive jihad requires Muslims to attack non-Muslims and subordinate them to second class citizenship as dhimmis (non-Muslims under Muslim rule). “The West avenges itself against Islam for giving infidels but three options: Islam, jizya [a special tax imposed on non-Muslims], or the sword” (p. 42). Therefore, “Islam is spread with the sword alone, just as the Prophet [Muhammad] was sent forth with the sword” (pp. 46-47).
According to bin Laden, Muslims cannot abandon offensive jihad because it “is an established and basic tenet of this religion” (p. 32). He asks: “Why else did the sword come as an important pillar, enslaving mankind to their Master [Allah]?” (p. 33). Therefore, “Muslims, and especially the learned among them, should spread sharia [Islamic law] to the world—that and nothing else” (p. 33). Waging jihad “is our only option for glory, as has been continuously demonstrated in the [Islamic] texts” (p. 33). He states that “[b]attle, animosity, and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of our religion” (p. 43).
[Al-Zawahiri: Principle of equality of religions, women in democracies is “blasphemous”]
What is particularly interesting is that bin Laden does not tie his hatred of the West to colonialism, imperialism, Israel, or any of the other perceived grievances often enunciated in communiques intended for foreigners. Here, the offense is Western culture concerning issues like homosexuality and sexuality in general. Since Westerners “transgress the bounds of nature…Muslims are obligated to raid the lands of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their systems of governance for an Islamic system…” (pp. 50-51).
Zawahiri is as unyielding as bin Laden. He warns Muslims not to befriend infidels. “The Lord Almighty has commanded us to hate the infidels and reject their love” (p. 100). He states that “[b]efriending believers [i.e., Muslims] and battling infidels are critical pillars in a Muslim’s faith” (p. 111). Islam must be made supreme in its own land and then spread “around the world” (p. 113). Democracy and Islam are incompatible because the former is a man-made religion whereas the latter recognizes that “all legislative rights belong to Allah…” (p. 130). The principle of equality in democracies is “blasphemous” because of the equality given to all religions and women. “Islam is so much richer than all these blasphemous principles” (p. 135). On the other hand, “the call to jihad and martyrdom [is] for men and women…” (p. 144).
[Islamic scholars who categorically forbid suicide attacks are few]
Fatwas have received a great deal of attention since 11 September 2001. A fatwa is a religious opinion issued by an Islamic scholar. Such scholars are called the Ulema (learned). In Warrant for Terror: The Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad, Shmuel Bar masterfully examines the role of fatwas in encouraging terrorism. He makes the common observation that the attempt to reopen the gates of inquiry (known as ijtihad) that were believed to have been closed about 900 years ago, has allowed radicals to co-opt more traditional scholars. Thus, bin Laden’s mentor, the late Abduallah Azzam, who held a doctorate in Islamic studies, wrote: “A few moments spent in jihad in the path of Allah [i.e., fighting for God] is worth more than seventy years spent in praying at home” (p. 39). A Saudi sheikh ruled that 9/11 was justified because the West supports moderate Islam, which “accepts the submission to America…” (p. 53).
Even more mainstream scholars now issue hard-line interpretations. Twenty-eight scholars from Al-Azhar, the world’s leading institution for Islamic learning, issued a statement that killing Israeli civilians in Palestinian suicide attacks was “the noblest act of jihad” (p. 52). Sheikh Tahntawi, when he was head of Al Azhar, reversed his prior position and stated that “every martyrdom operation against any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act…” (p. 63).
Mainstream scholars now issue fatwas that justify fighting American forces in Iraq. Shmuel Bar notes that “[s]cholars who categorically forbid suicide attacks are few” (p. 63). Yusuf Qaradawi, the world’s best known and most influential Islamist, supports Palestinian suicide bombers and Iraqi insurgents. He has also justified the financing of such operations from zakat, the Muslim charity collection intended for the poor.
Interestingly, no fatwas have called for the killing of bin Laden. Bar cites the complaint made in 2004 (still valid today) by the former minister of information for Kuwait that “despite the fact that bin Laden murdered thousands of innocents in the name of our religion … to this date not a single fatwa has been issued calling for the killing of bin Laden…” (p. 98). It might be added that there has been a similar failure in the Arab world to condemn bin Laden as an apostate from Islam. However, Bar does cite a fatwa from an Islamic commission in Spain that condemns bin Laden as an apostate (p. 99).
[History of sharia reasoning a history of conflict where argument often linked with violence]
Jihad is central to warfare in Islam. Literally, jihad means to struggle or strive. However, the predominant contextual meaning of this term in Islamic history is fighting in the way of God, popularly known in the West as holy war. The foundational legal texts written by Imams Malik (d. 795) and Shafi (d. 820), founders of two of the four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence named after them, discuss jihad within the context of fighting.
Similarly, nearly the entire discussion on jihad in the fourteenth century Shafi manual on Islamic law discusses the term as warfare. Islam teaches that Muslims who die must await the final Day of Judgment before gaining entrance to Paradise (or Hell). However, martyrs who die in jihad are granted immediate access to Paradise and thus are able to avoid the “tortures of the grave.” All sins of the martyr are forgiven. Those admitted to Paradise will have many pleasures and advantages. A common belief espoused in some literature is that the martyr will marry 72 virgins.
In Arguing the Just War in Islam, John Kelsay, a veteran academic commentator on Islam, provides valuable insights into the juridical and ideological reasoning that allow for warfare in Islam. He warns that “[t]hose who argue that Islam has nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 … will find no comfort here. The facts are plain. Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other militants lay claim to some of the central practices and themes of Islamic tradition” (p. 3). However, later on, Kelsay acknowledges that in Islamic legal reasoning on warfare, “attacks are not directly and intentionally aimed at noncombatants” (p. 109).
Fighting is permitted in Islam “in order to resist injustice” (p. 24). The vast majority of Muslims see the expansion of Islam from the seventh century onwards as “an act of divine providence” which established governments that acknowledged Islam as the true religion “and replaced regimes that, by reason of their religious and moral errors, could be described as tyrannical… Islamic expansion thus involved a systematic program of regime change, in which jihad became the symbol for Muslim effort” (p. 38). War was “a means to a political end (establishing an Islamic state), which is itself a means to an overarching religious goal (calling humanity to Islam)” (p. 100). However, forced conversion of non-Muslims to Islam is strictly forbidden under Islamic law.
Kelsay delves deeply into the development of sharia reasoning which seeks “divine guidance in particular contexts [that] can yield disagreement” (p. 77). Since the process of legal reasoning is largely dependent on precedent, there is little room for independent judgment. “It is not surprising, then, that the history of sharia reasoning is a history of conflict, in which argument is often connected with violence” (p. 75).
[Later Quranic verses provided religious justification for 1,000 years of Islamic expansion]
The foundations for jihad in Islam are found in the Quran and hadiths, traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. David Bukay provides a highly critical and in-depth analysis of this source material in From Muhammad to Bin Laden. Thus, “from an Islamic vantage point, all wars in Islam are religious and there is no concept of secular war…” (p. 48) He divides the Islamic views on jihad into four periods corresponding to Muhammad’s life and death.
The first period was devoted to teaching and self-restraint. Muslims were not to engage in fighting.
The second period involved defensive jihad. Here, believers could retaliate if attacked.
The third stage was offensive jihad that culminated in the conquest of Mecca by Muhammad and the consolidation of Islamic rule in Arabia.
The fourth stage was initiated by Muhammad’s followers after his death when they began their invasion and conquest of countries outside of the Arabian Peninsula. Unlike some commentators, Bukay does not see these conquests as benign.
Bukay examines the doctrine of abrogation in Islam, which holds that the earlier more moderate Quranic verses have been abrogated by the later more militant ones. The later Quranic verses have provided the religious justification for the 1,000 years of Islamic expansion from the seventh through seventeenth centuries. The militant Quranic verses, Muhammad’s conquests, and the expansion period have all profoundly affected a wide variety of militants from the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, to bin Laden and those who share his ideology.
They have also influenced others, who are considered “moderate,” like Yusuf Qaradawi, discussed earlier in this essay. They see a continuing need for Islamic expansion. Bukay does not see Western colonialism as being responsible for contemporary militancy because the 1,000-year Islamic expansion was itself a type of colonialism. He asks: if Western colonialism is responsible for contemporary Middle East violence, “why is there such a high degree of violence inside and from Saudi Arabia, a state without a colonialist past?” (p. 114).
One aspect that should be addressed is Bukay’s citing the eminent historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis, as the first to use the phrase “clash of civilizations” in a 1990 article to describe the conflict between the Islamic world and the West (p. 324). Other writers attribute the phrase to political scientist Samuel Huntington, who used it after Lewis. This is a very common error. In fact, the term was used in 1987 to denote the Islamic-Western conflict by the Islamist writer Sa’id Ayyub, a purveyor of apocalyptic visions and conspiracy theories.
[Most Islamic hadiths show Muhammad disapproved of targeting innocent civilians in war]
T. P. Schwartz-Barcott takes a less pessimistic view than Bukay in War, Terror, and Peace in the Quran and in Islam. He breaks down and analyzes many Quranic verses that deal with fighting, peace treaties, and related topics. He argues that any person who is literate in one national language “can select a few passages from the Qur’an about war and peace that suits his or her preconceptions and purposes” (p. 33).
Yet, U.S. forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, captured material “that indicates that the Qur’an was used extensively in the military training of thirty-nine [Al-Qaeda] recruits” (p. 248).
Schwartz-Barcott notes that there are Quranic verses where it is not difficult to see how some “might use these passages to plan and justify their acts of terrorism…” (p. 62). However, he also argues that some “sword verses” (i.e., Suras 2:190-193 and Sura 9:5) are either mitigated within the verses themselves or mitigated by surrounding verses. Although the Quran does not address many issues involving conduct in war, the most authoritative hadiths (traditions) of Islam show that Muhammad disapproved of targeting innocent civilians in battle.
He develops a table (Appendix A) of 214 battles involving Muslims from 633 to 1982 where he identifies when Muslims were attackers and when they were defenders. He acknowledges the unique nature of Islam’s origins in that “few if any world religions besides Islam were founded by a person [Muhammad] who led his armies in more than twenty-five battles … and ordered his armies to fight more than thirty additional battles during his lifetime” (p. 301).
The book concludes with a number of useful suggestions for policy-makers in dealing with Muslim countries. These involve promoting the protection of religious freedoms and providing humanitarian, educational, and military assistance. He demonstrates how the Quran can be cited to promote peaceful and harmonious relations (pp. 333-334).
The foregoing is Article No. 4 (TL068A04) in the Terrorism Literature Report (TLR), No. 68, 22 August 2008, prepared by Interaction Systems Incorporated (email@example.com).
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