Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Guerilla Advantage: Your Ignorance and 'SmallMoney'

P-Mac explains that SmallMoney funds terrorists (or guerillas, if you prefer.) He quotes WaPo's Craig Whitlock article:

"Although al-Qaeda spent an estimated $500,000 to plan and execute the Sept. 11 attacks, many of the group's bombings and assaults since then in Europe, North Africa and Southeast Asia have cost one-tenth as much, or less.

"The cheap plots are evidence that the U.S. government and its allies fundamentally miscalculated in assuming they could defeat the network by hunting for wealthy financiers and freezing bank accounts, according to many U.S. and European counterterrorism officials."

The point? That 'Big Petrodollars' are not really required to finance the Wal-Mart budgets of these characters. (This is something that John McCain hasn't yet figured out either, judging from his remarks last night on Leno's show...) They do very well by running small-time scams, and could almost execute their ops with the proceeds from purse-snatching.

So purchasing oil from the Arabs ain't necessarily "funding terrorism."

Whitlock is not the first to note this. Another blog (Counter-Terrorism) also brought up the topic in the last week or so, and argued that deploying large armed forces to counter terrorists is going to bring diminishing returns--that really, SOG's could be a better investment, assuming the intel is available to find the critters.

Another interesting finding, from MI5: terrorists are not necessarily "religiously literate," and are generally lower-social-strata folks (at least in the UK).

Terrorist suspects, the study found, are mostly British nationals and the remainder are, with few exceptions, legal immigrants. Still, while some are well-educated and some are not, most are employed in low-grade jobs suggesting a lack of economic mobility and social integration are a big part of the problem in the UK.

Many lack religous literacy and are therefore susceptible to radical interpretations of extremist preachers or internet sites. There is evidence, British analysts suggest, that a well-established religious identity could protect against violent radiclization. In other words, the problem may not be too much but too little religion.

This, of course, could put Robert Spencer out of business.

Expect a counter-attack. There are several very potent interest groups which will not like the line of thought--Spencer is hardly alone. I can think, for example, of a Middle Eastern country which has been very happy to identify "terrorists" with "Islam." And while some elements of the Pentagon could gain, the 'Large Forces' bunch will not.


1) Terrorism, like guerilla warfare, is cheap, and does not require Government or Big Wealth backers (although that may exist);

2) Likely terrorists are socially-isolated and not upwardly mobile;

3) It is not really Mohammedanism--rather, it is a lack of Mohammedanism.

Interesting, eh?

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