Intelligence: Earthquake Jackpot

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December 13, 2005: The Islamic terrorists in northern Pakistan have provided an intelligence bonanza to Western counter-terrorism organizations, because of the enthusiastic efforts by the terrorists to bring needed earthquake relief to the region. This all began when relief work for the millions of victims of the recent earthquake in northern Pakistan triggered a competition between Islamic charities, and foreign relief agencies. Islamic radicals are tolerated in northern Pakistan, even though some of them work with Islamic radical groups the government is at war with. But all Islamic charities, and especially the Islamic radicals, were humiliated to see so many Western relief organizations rushing into the area to administer relief. Even the U.S. armed forces were there, very visibly, with military helicopters brought in from Afghanistan.

Islamic charities play a large role in Moslem countries. That's because one of basic tenets of Islam is charity. By custom, all Sunni Moslems try to give 2.5 percent of their income a year to charity (Shia's shoot for five percent.) This is similar to the Christian tradition of "tithing" (giving ten percent, which many devout Christians do). Another Islamic custom is for large charitable foundations to accept this money, and make sure it gets used for charitable purposes, and is not stolen. Since most Moslems are very poor, most of the donations come from a smaller number of very wealthy individuals (for whom the charitable giving is also good PR). Some of these very large donors have their own charitable foundations (as do many wealthy givers in the West). Islamic radicals have been successful, over the last few decades, in getting many of the charitable foundations to give money to operations that basically support terrorism. By now, Western intelligence organizations know who most of the "dirty" charities are, and keep tabs on them. Thus, when the Islamic radicals decided that they had to make a big showing in the north Pakistan relief efforts, the rapid movement of terrorist money into northern Pakistan (and people elsewhere in Pakistan, for the purpose of buying relief supplies), provided a bonanza of information on who's who in the terrorist financial, and field operations, communities.

The relief effort, and the damage done to many Islamic terrorist training camps in northern Pakistan, has also been of benefit to counter-terrorism efforts, as it has forced many wanted terrorists to move, and when these guys are in motion, they are easier to detect, observe and capture. While the results have been significant, they have not been spectacular. That's because the Islamic terrorists in northern Pakistan are popular with many Pakistanis (because most of the terrorism is directed towards India, just across the border in disputed Kashmir), and the terrorists receive support from some people in Pakistani intelligence agencies. But long term, the earthquakes will turn out to have very damaging for the Islamic terrorists in Pakistan, and an intelligence bonanza for counter-terrorism forces.

 


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