COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The deadly, coordinated terror strikes in London five years ago - the 7/7 transit attacks - reflect emerging global trends, reports the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), based at the University of Maryland.
These trends include the rise in the number of new terror groups and a continued drop in the number of coordinated attacks, which are usually far more lethal. The report is based on START's unclassified Global Terrorism Database, the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.
Lots of entrepreneurial start-ups in terrorism. Seems like reason to be bullish on the future growth of terrorism.
NEW PERPETRATORS: The report notes the rising number of new terror organizations world wide - on average 41 new organizations per year since 2000. The number of new organizations increased each year since 2004.
"This emergence of new groups, with no past history of terrorist attacks, is a discernible global trend in this decade," the START report says. "This trend is similar to peaks evident in the late-1980s - an era of high levels of terrorist activity."
Most start-ups fail. But with so many start-ups some are bound to recruit some talent and to come up with innovations that make highly lethal attacks easier to carry out.
Meanwhile the US fights 2 wars that do nothing to make American people safer.
Max Abrahms, a predoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, has studied dozens of terrorist groups from all over the world. He argues that the model is wrong. In a paper (.pdf) published this year in International Security that -- sadly -- doesn't have the title "Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorists," he discusses, well, seven habits of highly ineffective terrorists. These seven tendencies are seen in terrorist organizations all over the world, and they directly contradict the theory that terrorists are political maximizers:
Terrorists, he writes, (1) attack civilians, a policy that has a lousy track record of convincing those civilians to give the terrorists what they want; (2) treat terrorism as a first resort, not a last resort, failing to embrace nonviolent alternatives like elections; (3) don't compromise with their target country, even when those compromises are in their best interest politically; (4) have protean political platforms, which regularly, and sometimes radically, change; (5) often engage in anonymous attacks, which precludes the target countries making political concessions to them; (6) regularly attack other terrorist groups with the same political platform; and (7) resist disbanding, even when they consistently fail to achieve their political objectives or when their stated political objectives have been achieved.
Abrahms has an alternative model to explain all this: People turn to terrorism for social solidarity. He theorizes that people join terrorist organizations worldwide in order to be part of a community, much like the reason inner-city youths join gangs in the United States.
So terrorists are motivated by the need for status? Mohammad Atta was a low status person in Germany. His drafting work put him lower on the totem pole than other people he worked with. Osama Bin Laden had higher status as a leader of fighters and terrorists in Afghanistan than he did as a member of a very large wealthy Saudi family. The Saudi family was wealthy. But he wasn't a huge political figure or major captain of industry. Whereas in Afghanistan he became a global figure.
Status seeking behavior sometimes yields constructive results and other times destructive results.
In the six-and-a-half years that the U.S. government has been fingerprinting insurgents, detainees and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, hundreds have turned out to share an unexpected background, FBI and military officials said. They have criminal arrest records in the United States.
As they analyzed the results, they were surprised to learn that one out of every 100 detainees was already in the FBI's database for arrests. Many arrests were for drunken driving, passing bad checks and traffic violations, FBI officials said.
Well, the Jihadists tend to be middle and upper class. They are not the products of poverty. So they are better traveled than the average Muslim.
What would be interesting to know: What percentage of Jihadists show up in criminal fingerprint databases in Britain, France, Germany, and other Western countries?
Steve Sailer points out that this 1% are only the Jihadists who managed to get arrested while in the US. My guess is they are just a small fraction of all the Jihadists who visit the US.
So, one percent is just the fraction of jihadis who got fingerprinted in America when they got caught by the police screwing up. What fraction managed to not get caught when they were in America? Of course, we don't seem to collect fingerprints on foreigners in the U.S., so nobody knows.
We ought to let in fewer Muslims. That would reduce the number of Jihadists who visit the US. We do not need lots of Muslim visitors. The Muslim countries are not great founts of science and technology or
The airline industry and embassies of 34 countries, including the members of the European Union, are urging the U.S. government to withdraw a plan that would require airlines and cruise lines to collect digital fingerprints of all foreigners before they depart the United States, starting in August 2009.
Their opposition could trigger a battle with Congress and the Bush administration, which want the new plan established quickly.
The Senate Appropriations Committee significantly cut the budget for the Homeland Security Department's program to electronically track when foreign travelers enter and leave the United States, fearing the system might not work as planned.
The committee's fiscal 2009 spending bill for DHS would provide $181.3 million for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, a 62 percent cut from the program's $475 million fiscal 2008 budget and 54 percent less than the $390 million that President Bush requested. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.
The 9/11 attackers had a home base in Afghanistan under rule of the Taliban. America sensibly overthrew the Taliban. Then we foolishly invaded Iraq. Now an area of Pakistan under very limited control from the Pakistani government serves as a training base for Al Qaeda terrorists. Yet our focus is still on Iraq. Go figure.
Pakistan is not our enemy, yet our enemy is operating safely from within its borders, concludes Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And there's not much we can do about it under the current political arrangement.
In Pakistan's western tribal regions, known as the FATA, al-Qaida's central command has set up its most secure base since the fall of the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, Mullen says. And it's now training Western-looking terrorists there to slip security and hit America.
"I believe fundamentally if the United States is going to get hit, it's going to come out of the planning that the leadership in the FATA is generating," Mullen said in a recent interview. "I'm not saying it is guaranteed to happen, or that it's imminent. But clearly we know the planning is taking place."
We could shape an immigration and visa policy aimed at keeping these would-be attackers and their supporters out of the US. Immigration and visa policies ought to be some of our top anti-terrorist policies. We do not need Muslim visitors. So why take the risk?
The number of terrorism incidents in Iraq -- and resulting deaths, injuries and kidnappings -- skyrocketed from 2005 to 2006, according to statistics released by U.S. counterterrorism officials yesterday.
Of the 14,338 reported terrorist attacks worldwide last year, 45 percent took place in Iraq, and 65 percent of the global fatalities stemming from terrorism occurred in Iraq. In 2005, Iraq accounted for 30 percent of the worldwide terrorist attacks.
The figures, compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and released with the annual State Department Country Reports on Terrorism, showed that the number of incidents in Iraq rose 91 percent, from 3,468 in 2005 to 6,630 in 2006.
I think the term terrorism is not useful in looking at civil wars. Is blowing up of roadside bombs terrorism? How is that all that different than blowing up opposing soldiers with mines?
Afghanistan had 749 strikes in 2006, a 50 percent rise from 2005 when 491 attacks were tallied, according to the report.
However, it also detailed a surge in Africa, where 65 percent more attacks, 420 compared to 253 in 2005, were counted last year, largely due to turmoil in or near Sudan, including Darfur, and Nigeria where oil facilities and workers have been targeted.
Terrorist attacks in the West are mostly carried out by a still small but growing Muslim minority. We can reduce the threat in the future by ending Muslim immigration to Western countries. Fewer Muslims in our midst means fewer terrorist attacks in the West.
More than half the deaths from terrorist attacks are Muslims. That is because most terrorist attacks are carried out in Muslim countries.
Of the 58,000 people killed or wounded in terrorist attacks around the world in 2006, more than 50 percent were Muslims, the report, says with government officials, police and security guards accounting for a large proportion, the report said.
However, non-Muslims in majority Muslim countries get singled out more due to Muslim hatred of non-Muslims. For example, Christians and other non-Muslims are attacked in Iraq because they are not Muslims. The Christians in Iraq were far safer and had higher status under Saddam Hussein. Now they live in danger and fear.
We do not gain anything by letting the forces of Islam into the West. Islam is not compatible with Western freedoms and culture. We should not pretend otherwise. Multiculturalism be damned.
Saudi Arabia, a country with only 27 million people, produces terrorists by the hundreds.
BERLIN, April 27 -- Saudi Arabia said Friday that it had arrested 172 suspected terrorists over the past several months from a network that was planning suicide attacks -- including the use of airplanes -- on the kingdom's oil industry, military installations and other targets.
Saudi officials said some of the suspects had trained next door in Iraq and had returned to the kingdom to plot the attacks. Also among the targets were high-ranking members of the royal family and the Saudi security forces, officials said.
The Saudis are spinning this by arguing that the terrorists they are catching are less well trained than previous terrorists cells they've broken. Yet a Saudi official also said that some of the plots they've broken recently were very close to execution. This suggests that eventually other terrorist recruits will manage to pull off some attacks before getting caught.
Saudi Arabia has a large foreign population that does much of the work. The Saudi terrorists also recruited from their foreign workers.
A majority of those arrested were Saudi citizens, but a substantial number were immigrant workers from elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa who were recruited by the network after their arrival, Saudi officials said.
We could lower our risk of terrorist attacks by preventing people from Muslim countries from immigrating to the United States. But the neoconservatives, who pose as hard core hawks dedicated to the defense of the United States, never mention immigration restriction as the most obvious method to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks in the United States and other Western countries. Commenting on neocon Mark Steyn's argument about our choices in dealing with Islam Ortelio writes to Lawrence Auster that Steyn and the neocons ignore an incredibly obvious choice for how we should reduce the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Readers of Steyn's book America Alone could see--though who explicitly noted?--that he was being illogical when he concluded (p. 204) "There are three possible conclusions to the present struggle: 1. Submit to Islam, 2. Destroy Islam, 3. Reform Islam." He goes on to favor 3, though the ways and means he recommends seem to mix in elements of 2. But his list omitted the most obvious alternative: 4. Separate (humanely) our societies from Islam, in the first instance by ending Muslim immigration. The significance of the new article is that what looked liked illogic and oversight now turns out to be ennui. "Nothing much to do about it...". Such passivity, from an action man! A symbol of our predicament.
Iraq is a distraction from the most effective steps we could take to reduce the risk of Islamic terrorism. The neoconservative goal to tame Islam is foolish. The base texts of Islam are incompatible with a free society. The terrorists in very fundamentalist Muslim Saudi Arabia should remind us that most of the 9/11 terrorists were Muslims from Saudi Arabia.
(CBS) America's top intelligence officer overseeing Iraq and Afghanistan says terrorists have made the Internet their most important recruiting tool. Brig. Gen. John Custer tells Scott Pelley that terrorist groups like al Qaeda are influencing Islamic youth to join their cause through Web sites devoted to jihad, or religious war.
Pelley's report will be broadcast this Sunday, March 4, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
"I see 16-, 17-year-olds who have been indoctrinated on the Internet turn up on the battlefield. We capture them, we kill them every day in Iraq, in Afghanistan," says Custer. "Without a doubt, the Internet is the single-most important venue for the radicalization of Islamic youth," he tells Pelley.
As I like to say: the streets find their own uses for technology. The motivations for creating technologies are very often very different than the uses that technologies get put to. The more advanced technologies become the easier they become to use by everyone - including Muslims who believe non-Muslims should submit to Muslim rule or die.
As internet bandwidth costs have decreased so have the costs of producing and delivering streaming video jihadist propaganda.
The Internet allows terrorists to use increasingly sophisticated methods, such as music videos distributed by media organizations, to reach more potential recruits with more effective messages. "Now they are able to distribute … anything they want, anywhere they want. This is unheard of in history," says Ulph. "We're witnessing this ideological war on our own desktops."
This has implications for Western countries with Muslim minority populations. The more educated Muslims are more likely to become jihadists and the left-liberal assumption that more education makes people more tolerant is false. Well, technology increasingly allows Muslims living in Western societies to carve out their own media channels and communications channels so that they exist in parallel societies even while being physically close to majority non-Muslim populations. The internet enables these parallel societies because it supports huge numbers of channels of video, audio, and text content as well as online forms, chat, and other means of communication.
Al Qaeda would still like to inflict mass casualties upon the US, and it continues to seek weapons of mass destruction, Admiral McConnell said.
In addition, it is "forging stronger operational connections that radiate outward" from Pakistan to affiliated groups in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, according to US intelligence.
Still, Al Qaeda remains a loose network of like-minded individuals, instead of a tightly controlled terrorist hierarchy. Three-quarters of Al Qaeda's pre-9/11 leaders were killed or captured, according to US estimates. Aside from Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, many of its leaders are relative rookies.
Nor has Al Qaeda's new Pakistani infrastructure replaced the multiple camps it operated in Afghanistan, capable of training thousands of recruits at once. "The numbers are not the same, but there are volunteers who are attempting to reestablish [training grounds]," McConnell said.
Al Qaeda's ability to communicate will grow as Pakistan's internet infrastructure improves. The internet helps jihadists worldwide. One of the best ways we can respond to this is by making separate societies sit on opposite sides of well-controlled borders. Multiculturalism within a single society is a recipe for Balkanization and Lebanonization within the borders of a single nation. The best policy for dealing with Muslims is Separationism where we keep them out of our societies and minimize our involvement and dependence on them and theirs.
Al Qaeda could put themselves back on the map as a serious threat to the world if they could manage to knock out Saudi Arabia's biggest oil processing facility. Well, they tried. But the Abqaiq oil facility was unharmed by the attack.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 24 — An attempted suicide bomb attack on Saudi Arabia's sprawling Abqaiq oil facility was thwarted today when guards opened fire on two explosive-laden cars, causing them to detonate at a security gate about a mile from the main entrance, the Saudi Interior Ministry said. The attack was the first on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, and ends a yearlong lull in violence in the kingdom.
Seems to me if Al Qaeda can launch only one attack in Saudi Arabia in a whole year and that attack was lame then it is not a very powerful organization any more. Though they apparently managed to kill at least two guards and injured others. That's bad. But it is pretty small stuff compared to all the murders that happen in the world in a year.
Also, if these guys wanted to ram their way through a gate they'd need hardier vehicles and more people to take out the guards. They couldn't even make their way past an outer security perimeter let alone the main gate. Suicide bomb vehicles aren't effective means to break through layered security because the vehicles are full of explosives that can get set off by defensive fire.
But the assault on the Abqaiq compound near the Persian Gulf, through which two-thirds of Saudi oil exports pass, was the first on a significant Saudi oil facility. Oil experts warned that other attacks are likely.
Imagine an attack on that facility that succeeded. The price of oil would shoot up over $100 per barrel. Can you say deep global world recession? Sure!
There was no immediate confirmation of who was behind the attack, which took place in a region where Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority is centered.
Likely Sunnis were behind the attack. The Shias in Saudi Arabia live where all oil fields are located. So Sunnis have to go to Shia regions to blow up Saudi oil facilities.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but last September al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri called for attacks on oil facilities, saying oil revenues went to what he called "the enemies of Islam".
"The security measures at the oil facilities are better than those at the royal palaces," said Fares bin Houzam, an expert on al Qaeda. "There is no danger to other facilities."
Obaid and Houzam both said the attempted attack was proof al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia has been weakened by a state crackdown.
My guess is the best bet Al Qaeda has for knocking out a big Saudi oil facility would be to recruit some people who work inside such facilities. But Al Qaeda would have to have a pretty extensive recruiting organization with a lot of isolated cells which would be able to get into contact with a lot of oil facility workers in order to have decent chances to succeed in such recruitment.
Citing the results of the first 24 hours of inquiries, Andy Hayman, a senior police officer, said that the four bombs each contained less than 10 pounds of "high explosive," and that the bombs on the three trains were left on the floors of the cars where they exploded, around 100 yards from the stations at King's Cross, Liverpool Street and Edgware Road.
The bomb on the bus exploded either on the floor or on a seat, he said.
The bombs were probably made from simple, relatively easy-to-obtain plastic explosives, not the higher-grade military plastics like Semtex that would have killed far more people, said Andy Oppenheimer, a weapons expert who consults for Jane's Information Group.
``Any crook with ready cash could obtain this stuff if they knew where to look for it,'' said Alex Standish, the editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest.
One wonders how much effort various European intelligence and police agencies put into running down all the black market plastic explosives.
What is the range of black market prices for Semtex and similar explosives in London, Madrid, and other European cities? Ditto the United States. Is it harder or easier for terrorists to get bomb material in the United States than in Europe?
The Madrid bombs weighed more and more bombs were used. So the Madrid bombings used about 220 pounds of explosives.
Ten pounds is a relatively small bomb, although a blast's power depends more on the type of explosive than the amount. The 10 bombs that killed 191 people on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain last year averaged 22 pounds each; the bombs that killed 33 bystanders and 12 suicide attackers at five targets in Casablanca, Morocco, two years ago were 18 to 22 pounds each.
Why didn't the London bombers use more bombs or bigger bombs? Did they have less money? Is the explosives black market smaller in Britain than in Spain?
Paul Cornish, the head of the international security program for the London research center Chatham House, said such answers would be the result of slow, steady investigation.
"This doesn't look to be a particularly involved plan - simple bombs, hardly exact timing," he said. "It could have been as simple as four friends eating breakfast in central London, then agreeing to head off and look for buses and trains. There may not have been much planning, and there may have been only a few people involved."
The Czech company Explosia that makes Semtex has a web page defending themselves against charges that their manufacture of Semtex creates dangers for others. For investors they point out that they have a broad product line and are not dependent on Semtex sales for their survival.
A 2002 profile of Semtex inventor Stanislav Brebera in Christian Science Monitor reports experts put worldwide Semtex stockpiles in the tens of thousand of tons.
Semtex became infamous when just 12 ounces of the substance, molded inside a Toshiba cassette recorder, blasted Pan Am flight 103 out of the sky above Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, killing 270 people. A year later, after the Czech Communist regime was toppled, the new president, Vaclav Havel, revealed that the Czechs had exported 900 tons of Semtex to Col. Moammar Qaddafi's Libya and another 1,000 tons to other unstable states, such as Syria, North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. Some experts now put worldwide stockpiles of Semtex at 40,000 tons.
After the Lockerbie tragedy, Brebera added metal components and a distinct odor to make Semtex easier to detect. But that did not stop terrorists from using it to bomb the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1998, or prevent the IRA, which received about 10 tons of Semtex from Libya, from continuing its attacks.
Substantial quantities of the explosive have been stolen from industrial enterprises in the Czech and Slovak republics for sale on the black market. Shortly before the most recent ban was lifted, Czech police seized 100 kilograms of industrial Semtex from a group of Czech citizens who were planning its illegal sale abroad. In Slovakia in October 1993, some 900 kilograms of the explosive were stolen from the warehouse of a private firm, together with more than 2,000 detonators. Czech officials candidly admit that they have no idea how much Semtex has been stolen or illegally diverted, and the continued black market trade in the explosive seems certain.
But Semtex is far from the only choice available. C4 and many other explosives could have caused the damage seen in London.
The Brits are in a difficult position. Much of the black market explosives trade takes place in other European countries. The sheer volume of goods imported from those European countries into Britain makes bringing in some explosives fairly easy. Therefore the illegal explosives trade can't be stopped enitirely. Still, a bigger effort coordinated across Europe against black market arms trading might reduce the rate of future attacks.
At the same time the people side of the equation would be extremely difficult to fix. A lot of the angry British Muslims were born in Britain as citizens. So deportation isn't going to get rid of them unless the Brits start revoking citizenships based on measures of loyalty. But even then they'd have to identify who rejects the legitimacy of their society thoroughly enough to want to plant bombs.
Muslim terrorists strike again. At least 33 are dead so far.
Mr Paddick said four blasts hit London shortly before 9 am. Seven people were killed in the first blast in a tunnel near Moorgate station in the City, 21 were killed in a second near King’s Cross and another five died at Edgware Road station in west London.
There were a still unknown number of fatalities on a double-decker bus that was blown up Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury. Overall, hundreds of people were injured in the blasts, of whom 45 were seriously or critically injured.
Also see the BBC's coverage for details about each site. Also, see this exact timeline of the explosions. London time the three train explosions happened 8:51 AM, 8:56 AM, 9: 17 AM, and then 9:47 AM for the bus. Less than an hour total.
Michael Clarke, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College, London, said six bombs would mean at least 24 people were involved in planting them in a targeted operation.
The fact that London had been hit when the resources of the security forces were focused on the G8 summit at Gleneagles showed thoughtful preparation by terrorists.
"It will have been quite a big plot and months in the planning," said Prof Clarke, who declined to speculate who was behind the attacks at this stage.
How many of the bombers will turn out to be British citizens, asylum seekers, illegal aliens, or temporary visitors? How'd they get into Britain and when did they become jihadist terrorists? Britain should deport all illegal aliens and stop letting in asylum seekers. It should also start revoking residency permits for radical Islamists.
The use of near simultaneous attacks to cause maximum damage and panic is a tactic frequently used by al-Qa'ida.
The technique was used in the 1998 bombing of two US embassies in East Africa and the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington in which four hijacked airliners were aimed at key buildings.
Note that they went for fairly simple bombs on a bus and trains. They didn't manage to kill hundreds of people. They didn't carry out an attack on an airplane or bring down a large building. They didn't use sarin or some other nerve gas.
A group calling itself "Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe" has published a statement claiming responsibility for the bombing.
In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, may peace be upon the cheerful one and undaunted fighter, Prophet Muhammad, God's peace be upon him.
Nation of Islam and Arab nation: Rejoice for it is time to take revenge against the British Zionist Crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The heroic mujahideen have carried out a blessed raid in London. Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters.
We have repeatedly warned the British Government and people. We have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed military raid in Britain after our mujahideen exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the success of the raid.
We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all the Crusader governments that they will be punished in the same way if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He who warns is excused.
God says: "You who believe: If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly."
The BBC found the statement on a website that has carried previous statements from Al Qaeda.
One theory as to why it has taken so long might be that al-Qaeda moves in a very measured, careful way: attacks are long in preparation and intermittent in nature. Yet there is much evidence to suggest that that notion, which became conventional wisdom after September 11th, may not be correct. The intelligence services in London say that they have thwarted quite a number of attacks in recent years, including a plot involving deadly poisons and another which had Heathrow airport as its target. Less encouragingly, they also offer unofficial estimates that Britain may be home to roughly 1,000 budding Islamist terrorists, or close supporters of them. Whatever the accuracy of either of those assertions, the general picture is one of repeated terrorist efforts rather than measured, intermittent ones, and of a fragmented, unco-ordinated set of terrorist groups rather than a cohesive effort.
How many of those thousand budding Islamic terrorists are British citizens? How many are known to British security forces? How many could be deported?
George W. Bush is wrong yet again.
George Bush has sometimes claimed that a silver lining to the cloud his forces are struggling through in Iraq is that at least the West's enemies are being fought there rather than at home. The attacks in London are a reminder that that view is as wrong as it is glib.
Since so many Muslim terrorist groups are eager to carry out attacks no intelligence operation against a single group can stop future attacks. Every radical mosque and Muslim hothead in the West has to be watched for signs that they might be brewing an attack of their own.
"The international intelligence community has been talking for some time about potential blowback from the Iraqi conflict," says Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at St. Andrews University in Scotland.
"The French say they know of about 100 of their people who have traveled to Iraq, and 70 or 80 British nationals are thought to have been there," he adds.
Iraq is an excellent place for groups there to check out and train the European Muslims who come there. Then they can be sent back to European countries to carry out attacks.
March 9, 2005 — A secret FBI report obtained by ABC News concludes that while there is no doubt al Qaeda wants to hit the United States, its capability to do so is unclear.
"Al-Qa'ida leadership's intention to attack the United States is not in question," the report reads. (All spellings are as rendered in the original report.) "However, their capability to do so is unclear, particularly in regard to 'spectacular' operations. We believe al-Qa'ida's capability to launch attacks within the United States is dependent on its ability to infiltrate and maintain operatives in the United States."
US law enforcement agencies haven't been able to find any sleeper cells in the United States. Though if you read the full article you will see they cite instances of Al Qaeda members marrying Americans to get access to the US and other connections between Muslims in the US and Al Qaeda members.
The 32-page assessment says flatly, "To date, we have not identified any true 'sleeper' agents in the US," seemingly contradicting the "sleeper cell" description prosecutors assigned to seven men in Lackawanna, N.Y., in 2002.
Of course it is possible that some sleeper cells have been missed. But we have not been attacked again in the US for about three and a half years. Internal monitoring efforts have been greatly increased since 9/11. Before 9/11 lots of areas of enforcement related to terrorist threats were incredibly lax. In spite of considerable Bush Administration efforts to keep border and immigration enforcement lax for the benefit of illegal immigrants the overall trend has been toward more rigorous efforts to track potentially dangerous foreigners.
Europe faces a much larger threat because Muslims are a larger percentage of the population of some European countries, have more fellow Muslims to relate to in Muslim cliques. They are also in closer proximity to and able to maintain more on-going relations with Islamic co-religionists in their countries of origin. My guess is we will see one or more terrorist attacks in Europe before we see another attack in the US.
While the Bush Administration is expending a great deal of blood and money to politically remake the Middle East it continues to be my view that most of our efforts at defense against terrorists ought to be focused on a layered defense of our own territory. We should be pursuing more policies designed to make it hard for terrorists to enter and operate in US territory. Tougher rules on visa eligibility coupled with bigger efforts to investigate the backgrounds of visa applicants would pay far richer dividends for fewer dollars expended than multiple hundred billion dollar invasions. Serious efforts to enforce border security by making illegal entry from Mexico impossible would close off a major alternative means of entry for terrorists.
An increase in efforts to do data mining to search for financial transactions that connect terrorists would be cheap and highly cost effective. However, such efforts elicit a lot of political opposition. Obstacles to the use of electronic means to track terrorists have gotten so ridiculous that one government panel opposed the use of Google searches by intelligence agents to find connections between potential terrorists. Also, opposition to religious and ethnic profiling erects additional barriers in the way of efforts to identify terrorists.
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)
Marc Sageman, a CIA case officer in Afghanistan between 1987–89 retired from the CIA, a forensic psychiatrist, and author of Understanding Terror Networks, has written a piece for the Foreign Policy Research Institute on 400 terrorists on which he collected biographical information.
The 400 terrorists on whom I’ve collected data were the ones who actually targeted the “far enemy,” the U.S., as opposed to their own governments. I wanted to limit myself for analytical purity to that group, to see if I could identify anything different from other terrorist movements, which were far more nationalistic.
Most people think that terrorism comes from poverty, broken families, ignorance, immaturity, lack of family or occupational responsibilities, weak minds susceptible to brainwashing - the sociopath, the criminals, the religious fanatic, or, in this country, some believe they’re just plain evil.
Taking these perceived root causes in turn, three quarters of my sample came from the upper or middle class. The vast majority—90 percent—came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.
Jihadists were overwhelmingly educated in sciences and engineering with few receiving religious or humanities educations.
Al Qaeda’s members are not the Palestinian fourteen-year- olds we see on the news, but join the jihad at the average age of 26. Three-quarters were professionals or semi- professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion. The natural sciences predominate. Bin Laden himself is a civil engineer, Zawahiri is a physician, Mohammed Atta was, of course, an architect; and a few members are military, such as Mohammed Ibrahim Makawi, who is supposedly the head of the military committee.
So then if we could only raise educational attainments in Muslim countries more of them would try to kill us? This doesn't fit with the modern left-liberal pablum that more education is the solution to just about every problem.
Why are few humanities students represented among terrorists? It could be that few Middle Easterners study humanities subjects. But then why are few religious students represented? Surely there are plenty of students studying Islam in places like Saudi Arabia.
Then there is the American religious conservative exaltation of family values as their alternative cure-all for what ails society. Well, the terrorists are big on families and also big on killing us.
Far from having no family or job responsibilities, 73 percent were married and the vast majority had children. Those who were not married were usually too young to be married. Only 13 percent were madrassa-trained and most of them come from what I call the Southeast Asian sample, the Jemaah Islamiyya (JI). They had gone to schools headed by Sungkar and Bashir. Sungkar was the head of JI; he died in 1999. His successor, Bashir, is the cleric who is being tried for the Jakarta Marriott bombing of August 2003; he is also suspected of planning the October 2002 Bali bombing.
The terrorists also do not provide evidence that mental illness is the root of all evil.
As a psychiatrist, originally I was looking for any characteristic common to these men. But only four of the 400 men had any hint of a disorder. This is below the worldwide base rate for thought disorders. So they are as healthy as the general population. I didn’t find many personality disorders, which makes sense in that people who are antisocial usually don’t cooperate well enough with others to join groups. This is a well-organized type of terrorism: these men are not like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, loners off planning in the woods. Loners are weeded out early on. Of the nineteen 9-11 terrorists, none had a criminal record. You could almost say that those least likely to cause harm individually are most likely to do so collectively.
France is a substantial source of terrorists.
France happened to generate a lot of my sample, fourth behind Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco. Eighty percent were, in some way, totally excluded from the society they lived in. Sixty-eight percent either had preexisting friendships with people already in the jihad or were part of a group of friends who collectively joined the jihad together: this is typical of the Hamburg group that did 9- 11, the Montreal group that included Ahmed Ressam, the millennial bomber. Another 20 percent had close family bonds to the jihad.
Note that luckily for us and in spite of our dumb immigration policies the United States lacks sufficient concentrations of the right sorts of Muslims to sustain a lot of terrorist cells. Mostly that is due to geography. Muslims can far more easily reach Europe than America.
In order to really sustain your motivation to do terrorism, you need the reinforcement of group dynamics. You need reinforcement from your family, your friends. This social movement was dependent on volunteers, and there are huge gaps worldwide on those volunteers. One of the gaps is the United States. This is one of two reasons we have not had a major terrorist operation in the United States since 9/11. The other is that we are far more vigilant. We have actually made coming to the U.S. far more difficult for potential terrorists since 2001.
France has millions of Muslims in much larger concentrations which are capable of producing functioning terrorist cells. If the United States had a Muslim country where Mexico is at and millions of Muslims were crossing the border into the United States every year then the US would be facing a much larger terrorist threat at present. Even as things stand now the ability of groups of Muslims to just spontaneously organize themselve to make a trip to Mexico and travel illegally over the border poses a real risk as a source of future terrorist attack.
We hear that Al Qaeda plans its attacks for years and years. It may have before 9-11, but not anymore. Operatives in caves simply cannot communicate with people in the field. The network has been fairly well broken by our intelligence services. The network is now self-organized from the bottom up, and is very decentralized. With local initiative and flexibility, it’s very robust. True, two-thirds to three- quarters of the old leaders have been taken out, but that doesn’t mean that we’re home free. The network grows organically, like the Internet. We couldn’t have identified the Madrid culprits, because we wouldn’t have known of them until the first bomb exploded.
So in 2004, Al Qaeda has new leadership. In a way today’s operatives are far more aggressive and senseless than the earlier leaders. The whole network is held together by the vision of creating the Salafi state. A fuzzy, idea-based network really requires an idea-based solution. The war of ideas is very important and this is one we haven’t really started to engage yet.
I had a hard time choosing what to excerpt. Strongly suggest you click through and read the whole article.
Update: Speaking at a conference broadcast on C-Span Sageman said that 10% of the terrorists in his sample were converts to Islam from Christianity. Also, 70% were expatriates. They were "the best and the brightest" sent abroad to study. They were homesick, felt lonely and marginalized, and sought out companions at mosques. They moved in together. That led to feelings of collective identity, and rejection of in-group love and out-group hate.
There is a lesson here that is glaringly obvious: Muslims coming into the West to go to school are at greatest risk of becoming terrorists.
Sageman believes that Al Qaeda is operationally dead. He thinks we are too busy fighting the next war. He thinks the next war is 3/11 (the Madrid attack), Istanbul, and similar attacks. New kinds of networks are going to generate the next wave of attacks. Sageman says that Bin Laden had a monopoly control of the movement from 1996 through 2001. "9/11 was a strategic mistake for Al Qaeda". The environment has changed because now we are looking. The entire population has gotten much more vigilant. This prevents 9/11 style operations. But disconnected locally organised groups can still carry out attacks. Local groups do not need a lot of money.
The social movement is growing. Rapid development of attacks (5-6 weeks for the Madrid attack) prevents detection of groups. The first inkling of the existence of a group will happen when the attack happens. The planning for the assassination of Anwar Sadat was 2 weeks.
Internet: Virtual Ummah. Specific strategy and tactics are posted anonymously on the internet. Sageman's nightmare is that chatrooms will take the place of face-to-face interactions to build up a network and commit to an operation.
Thye challenge is not the existing network, but the future networks. Sageman says that means the real war is a war of ideas. However, I think there are other approaches that will work against this type of threat. For example, keeping young Muslim men from coming to the West to go to school will reduce the incidence of expatriates deciding to become terrorists.
Sageman also says the terrorists are reacting to a feeling of humiliation and get a feeling of dignity by joining terrorist groups. The feeling of humiliation may be due to a feeling of vicarious poverty. The terrorists may feel humiliated by the poverty in their home cultures.
Jessica Stern, a terrorism expert at Harvard University, says that there are groups in prisons and in ex-military communities in the United States who have turned to Islam who are becoming more radicalized. So the US may be faced with a larger amount of natives engaging in terrorism in the future.
Douglas Farah and Richard Shultz report on Al Qaeda's shift toward Africa for bases of operation and financing.
U.S. Gen. Charles Wald, deputy commander of the European Central Command, has been warning Congress and the Pentagon for months that al Qaeda-affiliated groups are active in Mauritania, Mali, Chad and Niger. The trade in diamonds used by terrorist groups, begun under the protection of former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor, continues despite international efforts to curb it. "The terrorist activity in this area is not going to go away," Wald warned recently. "This could affect your kids and your grandchildren in a huge way. If we don't do something about it, we are going to have a real problem on our hands."
Farah and Shultz discuss the ways that Al Qaeda has tried to adapt to efforts to stop their use of banks by shifting to other means to move money around and raise money such as trading in diamonds. People who think the US and its allies have made some sort of permanent gain in their ability to cut Al Qaeda financing ought to consider the history of the fight against the illegal drug trade.
Speaking of the Taliban and the drug trade: now that the Taliban are overthrown opium poppy growing has surged to place Afghanistan once more in the number 1 spot for heroin production.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage admitted during a hearing last month that last year was the ''biggest year ever -- for poppy cultivation and growth in Afghanistan. So you would be wrong if you don't hold us responsible.'' The future looks even worse: A U.N. report says that two out of every three Afghan farmers plan to increase their poppy crop in 2004.
Dirty drug money
While the administration has made inroads into eradicating Colombian coca fields and is attacking Colombia's heroin as well, it has dangerously ignored Afghanistan's poppy problem. Afghanistan, after a two-year lapse, is once again ''the world's largest cultivator and producer'' of opium and heroin, according to the 2004 White House National Drug Control Strategy. Afghani crops in 2003 were more than double the 2002 crop. As much as half of Afghanistan's GDP now comes from poppy cultivation and heroin production.
Some of that money is getting into the hands of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. So some of that money is going to finance terrorism.
Robert Weiner, co-author of that previous article, was a drug policy spokesman for the Clinton Administration. So there may be some partisan motivation to the complaints. But the complaint has some logic behind it. That the Bush Administration is unwilling to support a major crackdown on Afghan heroin production even as the US finances a major crackdown in Colombia. Yet it is the money that flows in the sales of the Afghan production that is at risk of being diverted to support terrorist activities.
Why the difference in the handling of Afghanistan versus Colombia? Some of the Afghan heroin money flows to the Northern Alliance commanders and troops. Does the US need to look the other way in order to maintain their support for a continued US presence to hunt down Al Qaeda?
Informal networks for transferring money, drug dealing networks, organized crime networks, and the chaos of much of Africa weigh against efforts to cut off financing for terrorists. Do not be too surprised if Al Qaeda becomes the major smuggling organization for getting heroin and other drugs into Europe. Al Qaeda members would have no compunction about harm to non-believers from addictive drug use. Al Qaeda members would also have no problem with being ruthless about knocking off competitors since the competitors would be either non-Muslims or "bad" Muslims who were working for themselves rather than the cause of jihad.
Probably the biggest obstacle facing Al Qaeda as a drug smuggling organization is that intelligence agencies will be far more willing to carry out extra-judicial killings and use other means to stop Al Qaeda that most regular Western law enforcement agencies will rarely if ever use. If terrorist financing becomes heavily reliant upon the illegal drug trade expect to see the fight over the drug trade to become a national security issue handled by spooks and special forces.
Writing for Prospect Magazine of the UK Jason Burke traces the development of Muslim terrorist groups in the 1990s and more recently. (a strongly recommended read)
Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in May 1996, invited not, as is commonly presumed, by the Taleban but by a group of their opponents. He was, however, able to ingratiate himself with the newly formed Islamic militia and during the next five years extended his influence over them. This growing relationship, the celebrity status brought by a series of attacks for which he was widely perceived, (not always correctly) as responsible, and the arrival of his partner from Sudan, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, allowed him to gain control of the huge infrastructure that had been developed over the previous ten years for training Islamic militants. Bin Laden himself had not built a single one of the camps which he controlled, but their possession put him in the unique position of being able to provide, to any Islamic militant in the world, security and training. With his own, and his partners', connections in the Gulf, he was also able to provide funding. The double bombing of US embassies in east Africa in August 1998, the first attacks for which Bin Laden and his associates were indisputably responsible, also raised his profile among militants and this, enhanced by clever manipulation of the media, brought him fame and authority.
What I found surprising was the extent to which the terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan and Pakistan was being built up even before Osama Bin Laden became a major player. Bin Laden basically came in and took over and organized a bunch of independent groups and managed to play his cards in ways that boosted his popularity among Muslim radicals.
Burke reports that many attacks (e.g. Bali in October 2002, Casablanca May 2003, and Istanbul November 2003) have been initiated by local Muslim radicals and took place without any centralized Al Qaeda control. He says that on the one hand the ability to launch large coordinated attacks has been degraded but that on the other hand the distributed and less centrally controlled nature of the terrorist networks make them stronger and harder to break into.
Burke reports a rising consciousness among Muslims of being part of a global struggle between Islam and an opposing alliance.
The second is that the events of the last two and a half years have led to the Islamic world being immeasurably more radicalised and politically conscious than it was in the early 1990s. The worldview of Sunni Muslim salafi jihadi militants is now far more widespread than a few years ago.
Local struggles are now being conceived as taking place in the context of a global struggle between Islam and the west. In Indonesia last year I saw pro-Palestinian slogans scrawled on walls and young Muslim activists with pictures of Bin Laden on their T-shirts. In Kashmir, where locals were once proud of their moderate, Sufi-influenced Islam, I was told by many ordinary people that India was part of a Hindu-Zionist-crusader alliance. Such language would have been inconceivable a few years ago - as would Kashmiri youths undertaking suicide attacks as they have done in recent months.
The Clash Of Civilizations is becoming more pronounced.
One effect has almost certainly been the recruiting of potential terrorists linked to al Qaeda, one of its branches or similar organisations. The International Institute of Strategic Studies, not an alarmist or extreme organisation, believes al Qaeda now has 18,000 potential terrorists in 60 countries and that recruiting has been accelerated by Iraq. If the institute is right, the invasion of Iraq, justified publicly as part of the "war on terror," has actually produced more terrorists.
"Christian nations' forcible occupation of Iraq, a historically important land of Islam, has more than offset any calming effect of the US military withdrawal from Saudi Arabia," the IISS said. It added: "With Osama bin Laden's public encouragement, up to 1,000 foreign jihadists have infiltrated Iraq."
So the Iraq invasion has radicalized Muslims as many critics of the invasion predicted ahead of time. The invasion would not have had as much of a radicalizing effect had it been better planned to provide better security during the occupation. But that would have required a much larger US Army to supply sufficient number of occupation troops and also a very ambitious effort to train US soldiers to speak Arabic and to do police work. So a proper occupation force would have taken literally years to prepare. Even if the occupation planning been competent the effect of the Iraq invasion would still have been to radicalize many Muslims the world over, just not as many or to as great an extent.
On the bright side, US intelligence agencies intelligence agencies of other countries around the world have become more vigilant and active at going after terrorist networks. It seems reasonable to expect the CIA and other US agencies to become more competent at tracking terrorists as criticism of the lack of foreign language and culture skills translates into better hiring and training programs (or am I being excessively optimistic?). Also, materials for making conventional bombs, chemical weapons, and biological weapons are tracked much more diligently by governments around the world. Also, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are sharing more information and developing better information systems for detecting terrorist activity.
One of my fears is that the radicalization of so many Muslims will increase the number of scientifically and technically competent Muslims willing to participation in preparations for terrorist attacks. Skilled chemists, biologists, and engineers could produce much more potent weapons for terrorist attacks. This points up the need for much better immigration and border control policy. But it also underlines the need for the development of approaches to terrorism that are less visible to Muslims and literally less invasive. We need to undermne Islamic ideology without provoking a figurative immune response in Muslim societies.
Time reports that Hamas is trying to recruit Al Qaeda members to use for attacks around the Middle East.
. Jordanian security officials tell Time that two Hamas agents recently traveled to Afghanistan to recruit the remnants of al-Qaeda's network to join its operations in the Arab world.
The article cites the arguments being made by some Hamas members that Hamas ought to start targetting Americans and American facilities in the Middle East and beyond. The top leadership of Hamas has disavowed such talk on previous occasions (sorry, no URL - but I've read Hamas leadership statements to this effect in the past). Hamas may well see such attacks as counterproductive because carrying out such attacks would make it easier for Israel to get American support to attack Hamas targets.
Of course there is always the possibility that Hamas could splinter because of disagreements over this question. Other terrorist groups have splintered in the past in part due to questions of what to target. A Hamas splinter group following this pattern could conduct attacks against American targets.
A very able Al Qaeda terrorist named Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is running a terrorist cell in Kenya which has killed 300 people so far. The cell is planning attacks on Britons in Kenya.
Details of Mohammed’s latest plot have been gleaned from the interrogation of Suleiman Abdalla Salim Hemed, a senior al-Qaeda leader snatched in a CIA operation from his hospital bed in Mogadishu, in neighbouring Somalia, in March.
Mohammed has been indicted for the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed 224 people. He is also believed to have been the linchpin in the 2002 Mombasa attacks, in which 16 people died.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed's terrorist cell has previously attempted to use surface-to-air missiles to shoot down an Israeli passenger aircraft departing Mombasa for Tel Aviv. Intelligence pointing to another attempt has led the British Government to cancel all commercial air service to and from Kenya.
Flight BA064 just managed to slip under the net before the 10pm deadline set by the Government on Thursday when it ordered the suspension of all British services to and from the African country because of an "imminent" terrorist threat.
Mohammed, who intelligence officials say is a member of al Qaeda who trained in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden, was seen in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, after the Nov. 28 bombing of the Paradise Hotel in the Kenyan port of Mombasa -- an operation in which he is also a suspect. Now Kenyan officials say they believe he is in the country and planning another attack.
His file in the FBI headquarters notes that he speaks French, Swahili, Arabic and English, and that he has the confidence, money and style to blend into any society he chooses. He has spent time in Afghanistan but is more comfortable in Africa’s capitals.
US agents have gotten close to capturing him a number of times but he has always gotten away.
According to reports, US agents believed they had tracked him down to Monrovia, in the capital of Liberia, after the 11 September attacks on America.
The British government sees a higher level of risk of terrorism throughout the Horn Of Africa.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office stepped up its warnings for East Africa, where it has already ordered the suspension of all British commercial flights to and from Kenya. It said that there was also “a clear terrorist threat” in other countries, including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Tanzania.
A higher level of intercepted communications among suspected Al Qaeda members has lead to terrorism alerts by Western governments for countries in a few different regions of the world.
Alarmed by a huge increase in intercepted communications indicating that Al Qaeda-related terrorist attacks may be imminent, western countries have put their citizens on alert in the Middle East, East Africa and south-east Asia.
Only one of the top 22 terrorists that the FBI is seeking has been captured to date. This demonstrates how difficult it is to track down these people. The embassy bombings which Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was involved in happened in 1998. In spite of continuing US efforts to track him down since then he has moved around in several African countries and has helped execute additional attacks. The war on Islamic terrorism will last for many years.
Where was the money coming from?
Although Muhammad spent time at the homeless shelter, he sometimes flashed a wallet thick with currency, and showed off expensive-looking watches and gold bracelets, Parks said.
At the mission, Archer said, Muhammad would stay for a few days and then leave, saying he was traveling to Denver and New Orleans, among other places. The odd part was that Muhammad was traveling by airplane. Archer learned that when an airline ticket agent called the mission asking for Muhammad.
"At the mission, not many airline agents call and ask for residents," Archer said.
Muhammad's frequent flier status seemed odd to other people. One of them was Greg Grant, a real estate agent in Bellingham who owns and manages an apartment complex about two miles south of Sumas on Highway 9. Last year, Grant said, he would often drive residents of Lighthouse Mission - including Muhammad on several occasions - to the apartments to do yard work and other chores, then back to the mission once the work was done.
Once, Muhammad told Grant that he had to travel a long distance, possibly to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, to sign some papers on a land sale, Grant said. Grant said he wondered why Muhammad would fly to do that when the job could be handled by mail.