View Full Version : Common Misconception of Terrorist Organizations

05-10-2007, 03:15 PM
I think the most common and annoying misconception of terrorist organizations is the implication that they are organized organizations with various organs and branches. They are presented as a guerilla type organization, except they can be in your backyard. They are invisible because they are people who infiltrate society.

And on the other hand they are also attending military camps in Afghanistan (or at least they were), being nuts and all that.

Now first it doesn't take a lot of reasonable thinking to disspell these notions. Illegal organizations by necessity have to remain undercover. They aren't hidden armies camping out in forests far away. Or if they are, then they aren't your neighbor either. There's a thin balance.

The general expert view on the form of terrorist organizations, in particular Al Qa'ida is that they are loosely based cells. (Because yes, I'm well aware that Hamas and PFLP are actual armies.)There is by necessity a form of autonomy within which they operate. Their probably is a head, it must've been nice that they could have a base in Afghanistan. But in places where they are illegal I would imagine they don't go around marching together and singing slogans. This view rejects logic, this view rejects reality. Some experts go as far as saying that Al Qa'ida is just an international group of gangs that adhere to the al-qa'ida "ideology".

The 9/11 Commission report claims that the hijackers were chosen by Sheik al-whatshisname and approved by Osama Bin Laden. 9/11 and attacks of this scale are the extent of Al-Qa'ida administrative abilities. It would take a lot of planning to do this kind of thing. However blowing up a train, that takes one man with household products. That doesn't take approval from Bin Laden. In fact most people are encouraged to martyr themselves when they feel they are ready. This does not demand an organization, nor does it require an international group. It can simply be 4 pissed off kids in London acting on their own. That's an example, they apparently did have al qa'ida connections.

The main thing I want to pass on is that yes terrorist organizations exist. But they are not modern armies. At least not the organizations relevant to you and I. (I guess if you're Colombian then it would relevant to you, or Israeli.) While they do have an international reach, they are loosely based and incredibly decentralized. Percieving them as heavily centralized organizations, which the media seems to do in the US. Is just plain ludicrous.

Literature List:
On the Organizational Structure of Al Qa'ida:
http://www.ctc.usma.edu/aq/Harmony%20and%20Disharmony%20--%20CTC.pdf (by the Combat Terrorism Center, a branch of the US military, West Point. Very academic and well sourced itself.)

Sin Studly
05-11-2007, 05:29 AM
I am a merry ploughboy,
And I plough the fields all day...

05-11-2007, 08:54 AM
till a sudden thought came to my head
that I should roam away

Sin Studly
05-11-2007, 11:18 AM
Well I'm sick and tired of slavery,
Since the day that I was born,

05-11-2007, 11:21 AM
For a post aimed at dispelling misconceptions, you make a lot of generalisations. First, there is difference betweeen terorists and jihadists. I'm sure everyone knows that but it's important mentioning that they each probably operate in different ways. Then there is a difference between jihadists who have the luxury to manifestate (probably not a word, but you know what I mean) and roam freely or semi-freely in a show of power in a friendly nation and jihadists who already infiltrated the targeted nations (or who always been there but were converted).

It is true the covert Jihadists don't necessarily take orders from a Comminter-like organisation that Al-quida is made out to be, but to say they are independent is false. The jihadists DO have a lot of contacts with international terrorists, this is in fact how they get busted. They might not need the approval from Bin Laden or any other spiritual figure, but they do need a) finances b) smuggled material c) a network to contact members d) a mean to recruit new members. And obviously, like in every religious-motivated crime, a spiritual discussion with an Imam is inevitable.

The Imam btw are thought to be the biggest agents/messangers due to their contacts with the religious community, but obviously none of us has any means to prove it.

There is one example of two kids who got caught in Montreal after they threw molotov coctails at a Jewish school here and a Jewish community center. It turned out they were Kazahs (who spoke Russian fluently), and the likeliest reason they've done it (according to people who knew them) is they were bored and wanted to do something really stupid that will be talked about on the news and the city. Obviously these retards don't take orders from anyone. On the other hand, an organisation that was busted in Ontario had reportedly a community on the internet. There is no telling whom they were talking with, and whether they were directed by someone or whether some members were incidently affiliated to other, bigger organisations.

05-11-2007, 01:18 PM
Well I was trying to focus on the threat to Americans in general, because who cares about Hamas over there? But generally the degree to which terrorists communicate with their central leader is debatable. Although I pointed out that incitement is not uncommon, the example in the source was through the imam's. And this is definitely an influence.

The main misconception I wanted to dispell is that Al Qaida is a military. So I offered the opposing views of other experts and synthesized it in an understandable way. Obviously experts have opposing views, the general concensus of the American Combat Terrorism Center is that Al Qa'ida is incredibly decentralized.

And many groups, like "Al Qa'ida in Europe" appear to be just what some reports said, followers of the ideology but not connected.

EDIT: The report about the ideology I didn't actually reference because www.memri.org has a shitty search function.

05-17-2007, 04:17 AM
I think the reason the media portrays Al Qaeda as centralized is because the figurehead status of Osama Bin Laden as portraying pure evil and controlling this organization is the easiest way to get the American populace to rally around military action in a foreign region. The two main American military actions currently have two main figureheads to attack (or did), Sadaam and Bin Laden. Any future potential military actions we might use would be against two other well known figureheads (Ahmeninejad and the North Korean guy)

I think if the populace knew how loosely based and uncontrollable these people were it would be much tougher to get popular support to stop something that doesn't have a headquarters or a main figurehead.

Don't certain insurgents in Iraq now get called a branch of Al Qaeda? But is there really a connection or is it just a loosely based connection based on similar enemies?

05-17-2007, 04:50 AM
During my "research" there was a lot of talk about "Al Qa'ida in Iraq."

05-28-2007, 03:45 PM
I started reading this thread because I was genuinely interested.... then..

I am a merry ploughboy,
And I plough the fields all day...

etc etc

oh the randomness, i'm glad to see it still exists.

Sin Studly
05-30-2007, 04:28 AM
Man, fuck Martin Luther.

05-30-2007, 04:58 AM
I started reading this thread because I was genuinely interested.... then..

oh the randomness, i'm glad to see it still exists.

Irish in London?
Surely you're a terrorist.

05-30-2007, 05:10 AM
Could someone please tell me what the legal age to be jailed in Canada is? It's very important!

05-30-2007, 06:14 AM
Well that's suspicious...

Mota Boy
05-30-2007, 07:35 AM
I was hoping for something more interesting than the obvious. It may just be that I'm relatively widely read, but I wasn't under the impression that the American media treated al Qaeda as a singular, structured organization. I've been reading about the "changing face of terrorism" for years now, ever since the fall of the Taliban. Most magazines have done in-depth stories on how the organization has shifted into groups mostly "inspired by" rather than directly recruited and trained by al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden is often referred to as more of a figurehead at this point.

As for "Al Qaeda in Iraq", that is the self-proclaimed name of the organization, which shows distinct hallmarks from other insurgent groups. Most significantly, its activities usually show a high degree of planning, and its targets are more directly related to destabilizing the country.

06-01-2007, 09:15 AM
I was hoping for something more interesting than the obvious.

That's what I'm saying homes.

Sin Studly
06-01-2007, 01:42 PM
Agreed. Break out the rebel songs plz.

06-03-2007, 04:08 AM
Mota Boy, Stephan, the impression we get in Europe from American media is quite the opposite. Granted we only get 60 Minutes, MSNBC, and Fox News.

06-03-2007, 11:12 PM
This is what I think.