(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

Muslim-American Terrorism: Declining Further

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2001 To 2012 In Jihad:

A report put out by the Triangle Center on Terrorism makes the case that Muslim jihad in the West has been on the decline and was noticeably so in 2012. The paper puts forth statistics that show since 2001 there have been a couple spikes in activity here in the U.S.  (2003 and 2010) but otherwise a steady decline can be seen. (see graphic above)  The paper attempts to make some assertions or suppositions on why this may be the case but in reality I think it misses some important issues such as the psychology of the players involved as well as the social and geopolitical factors going on that may also contribute to this decline in activity. I think that this paper is somewhat thin and it should behoove the school (University of North Carolina) to do a bit more due diligence before tossing something like this out there.

In essence I think that generally the average US jihadi (or more to the point jihobbyist) has to be a special sort to really act out to the point of going to a camp and training or even seeking out someone who claims they are with AQ and likely to be instead a CI for the FBI in the first place. I think generally there are a few types of personality that will go for the jihad as sold by AQ and they are the following;

  • The altruistic teen or twenty-something
  • The  mentally unstable and easily controlled
  • The seeker of belonging to something

Within those three archetypes we have the makings for those who join jihad in the West for the most part in my opinion. I do not ascribe to the idea that Muslims as a whole have the predilection toward jihad by virtue of their faith either. I think that everyone stands a chance of being convinced into action, whatever that action may be and motivated by, if  one is manipulable in the first place. It is only those who decide to use religion or doctrine to their needs of war or terrorism that should be really counted as the root of jihad in this case or terrorism in another. (an example could be the Christian right and their acolytes who bomb abortion clinics for instance)  These three personality types then fit the bill quite nicely for the case of jihad anywhere but particularly so for this treatise on Western jihad. All of these actors are eager to belong, to feel like they are doing something greater than themselves, and in some cases are just plainly mentally ill.

Overall, the decline of Western jihad can also be seen as coming to pass because of a number of factors though. Primarily among them though is the innate failure of AQ to grab the Western mind with their exhortations. Because many children in the US are not in the type of madrassas that the AQ types would be inserting themselves to recruit from, it is only “self radicalization” that is key to gaining a foothold in the West in obtaining real recruits. There have been of course cases where people have radicalized at their mosque but in general, the kids here are not in the war torn and poor regions that spawn many AQ recruits. outside of the US. This means that they really are not motivated by the religiosity that may be reinforced so much by nation states that are theocratic in nature. This fact alone has eluded many out there who are seeking to engage on this topic and it certainly was not covered in this paper.

Social and Other Forces On The Jihad:

The social angles to jihad have not really been expounded upon I think in the general discourse over Western jihadi’s. Socially, as I allude to above, we in the West have quite a different enculteration than those that have grown up in states where the government is fully theocratic in nature. The Westerners for this argument I am speaking mostly of are those who were born here or raised here without memories of the country they came from. The enculteration then is a key factor for these players. If they grew up here then they will have Western mores and ideals even if they are raised within a potential religious belief system such as Islam where this idea of Jihad can be taught.

So the idea that Western jihadi action has been lower since 2001 and citing the numbers does not beg the questions to understand the jihad and those who may partake of it and this is a disservice really. I personally think that the Westerners who had sought out to take action in acts of terrorism since 9/11 for the most part fall into the categories of the “seeker” and the “mentally unstable” on the whole. There have been some who have acted out of altruism such as the Minnesotans going to train up and or Adam Gadahn who has become one of the key media consultants to AQ. In these cases, they gravitated to Islam and the people of the ummah which they then adopted as their kin and kith completely. Since those who do so are few and far between that we have seen (259 cases en toto of Western jihadi’s) we can see just how much enculteration is important to the formation of a “jihadi” who is completely committed to the ideals of holy jihad put forth by the likes of AQ and others who have a more tempered approach to the ideals of what jihad really is such as the notion of internal struggle.

Another factor in this as well might be the force of actions ongoing around the world and how they are brought to us all in news and online. In many cases those who seek to radicalize do so with the internet as well as by watching the news media stories about the war. Since 9/11 there have been many instances on the news and online for those seeking a reason to cross that line into jihad to do so. Only a small few in reality have done so to the point of taking direct action. More often then not however many of these jihadi’s are in fact more “jihobbyists” who go online and live out their fantasies on discussion boards. They speak of doing things and acting within the confines of taking action against the “Great Satan” but then turn off their computers and go about their lives. This serves the purpose enough for them to sate their desires and to not need to take an action such as becoming a “shahid” (martyr) for Allah. It is this cognitive dissonance that is allowing them to live in the West and rationalize their inaction by being supportive of the cause but not acting on it.

Overall, this was the problem that AQ and AQAP have faced while trying to put out “Inspire Magazine” in hopes of exhorting the Westerners out there to act. You could see their frustration within the magazine’s pages as well as the jihadist bulletin boards as they attempted to understand the Western mind and failed to do so. The simple fact of it is this: Unless the acolyte has lived it,been en-cultured from a young age to live it, and generally is not exceedingly suggestible, they will fail in recruiting an active member willing to wear an IED and kill themselves. If said person though is unbalanced and that much of an altruist, which are as we see far and few between, then they will have a mark to use in a plot.

As a side note too, note that many of the FBI stings that we see in the report also show that there is active participation on the part of CI’s driving these people to take action. Facilitating them and cajoling them in many of the cases shown. This wheedling and re-enforcement is akin to the madrassa approach of teaching jihad in my opinion. Left without such resources and re-enforcement many of these actors might not do anything more than act out fantasies online on extremist boards.

Is Al Qaeda Still To Be Feared?

Another story out there that runs in tandem with this report by UNC is one put out by CNN’s Peter Bergen on should we fear AQ as much any more since our crackdown on them. Generally I think people today are thinking that the lull in events within the US and our alleged decimation of AQ’s leadership with drone strikes has diminished them to the point of not being a real worry. Frankly, I would never count AQ out of the grand game that is geopolitics or terrorism and to do so is very short sighted. Bergen seems to think that the attacks of late on facilities like the gas plant in Algeria are not existential in nature and thus not a real concern.

I would beg to differ with Mr. Bergen, though he may be very knowledgeable on the subject. I would agree on the overuse of the term “existential” but in general the actions are not the concern here but instead what the jihadi’s out there make of them. A win is a win even if it is a short term one to these guys. In attacking the facility, taking it over for a certain amount of time, and then killing as many kaffir as possible the devout believers in jihad have a win. It is as simple as that and it is this mindset that is the problem in that this event could be the clarion call to those in the wings that want to go to jihad to do so.

Yes, in my opinion AQ and it’s spinoffs are still a concern and should be. Are they existential? Well, if we ignore them and let them re-constitute yes indeed they are a threat and it could become existential again. To even beg the question is a little disingenuous because you are not just dealing with armed forces of an enemy but you are also dealing with an ethos and a way of thinking. I would consider AQ and jihad on par with the idea of Communism and the problems that came with that too. Sure, the group may be shrinking but that does not mean that the idea is as well. It is likely to go viral a few more times throughout the ages to come.

Terrorism Is Terrorism No Matter The Player:

In the end AQ is just one flavor of terrorism in the world. One that is of course spawned within the confines of a region that has been at war for centuries mind you so they have never really been able to get past it. Others have committed terrorism and I would hasten to point out Black September or other separatist groups in the past as proof that terrorism is’n new nor is it going away. With radical Muslim terrorism we have a new old player on the field because we now have the ability to affect the whole world with direct and horrible actions on the parts of the few. We are fixated upon radical jihad because of the our past since 9/11 but we need to look at the root causes of terrorism in general to thwart it. In the case of this report by UNC we have a shallow attempt and bringing up a trending topic and not much more.

We should be looking deeper and I am afraid in our McDonalds approach to pretty much everything today we are missing the greater point.


Written by Krypt3ia

2013/02/06 at 17:04

One Response

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  1. Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs much more consideration. Ill probably be again to read much more, thanks for that info.

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    2013/02/26 at 03:28

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