A new CIA report Mapping The Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project not surprisingly contains a section about terrorism. Also not surprisingly the CIA sees the conflict in Iraq as a training ground and recruitment lure for terrorists.
A Dispersed Set of Actors. Pressure from the global counterterrorism effort, together with the impact of advances in information technology, will cause the terrorist threat to become increasingly decentralized, evolving into an eclectic array of groups, cells, and individuals. While taking advantage of sanctuaries around the world to train, terrorists will not need a stationary headquarters to plan and carry out operations. Training materials, targeting guidance, weapons know-how, and fund-raising will increasingly become virtual (i.e., online).
The core al-Qa’ida membership probably will continue to dwindle, but other groups inspired by al-Qa’ida, regionally based groups, and individuals labeled simply as jihadists—united by a common hatred of moderate regimes and the West—are likely to conduct terrorist attacks. The al-Qa’ida membership that was distinguished by having trained in Afghanistan will gradually dissipate, to be replaced in part by the dispersion of the experienced survivors of the conflict in Iraq. We expect that by 2020 al-Qa’ida will have been superceded by similarly inspired but more diffuse Islamic extremist groups, all of which will oppose the spread of many aspects of globalization into traditional Islamic societies.
- Iraq and other possible conflicts in the future could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are “professionalized” and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself.
- Foreign jihadists—individuals ready to fight anywhere they believe Muslim lands are under attack by what they see as “infidel invaders”—enjoy a growing sense of support from Muslims who are not necessarily supporters of terrorism.
Even if the number of extremists dwindles, however, the terrorist threat is likely to remain. Through the Internet and other wireless communications technologies, individuals with ill intent will be able to rally adherents quickly on a broader, even global, scale and do so obscurely. The rapid dispersion of bio- and other lethal forms of technology increases the potential for an individual not affiliated with any terrorist group to be able to inflict widespread loss of life.
By overthrowing the Taliban the US knocked out a recruitment and training area. At that point the US was ahead. But the Bush Administration reversed at least some of those gains with its Iraq misadventure. We would benefit if terrorists made some huge miscalculations and mistakes in order to cancel out our biggest mistakes. What would be the biggest mistake that the global jihad terrorists could make? (and I use the term "global jihad terrorists" to distinguish them from, say, terrorists in Sri Lanka or in the West Bank who are pursuing rather local goals)
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2005 January 18 11:58 AM Terrorists Activities|