Counter-Terrorism: Why Holy Warriors Can't Find Love


January 19, 2010: Islamic terrorists are having a sometimes violent debate among themselves. It's all about the use of violence. Islamic terrorists, as their title implies, are all about violence. But many of the terrorists have noted that over 90 percent (often over 98 percent) of the violence victims are Moslems. This has caused public image problems. In areas where Islamic terrorists kill people, the friends and family of the victims tend to become hostile to the Islamic warriors. This can cause serious problems if the Islamic terrorists are being energetically pursued, as the local people will have an incentive to pass on information about where the Holy Warriors are, and what they are doing. In many cases, this leads to locals arming and organizing themselves to keep the Islamic terrorists out of their area.

This sort of hostile behavior from fellow Moslems has troubled an increasing number of Islamic radicals. Organizations like al Qaeda are, as a result, finding it more difficult to recruit, and carry out operations without being detected. But on a larger scale, the problem has led many Islamic radicals to question the tactics of attacks that kill many Moslems. The hard core Islamic radicals respond that those victims are, at worst, "involuntary martyrs" to the cause, and often those "Moslems" aren't really Moslems at all (because they don't agree with Islamic terrorism). The more thoughtful Islamic radicals are calling for more precise attacks, that greatly reduce the number of dead Moslems. That's all very well in theory, but more pragmatic Islamic terrorists point out that the security forces, and especially foreign troops (often Americans), are very good at defending themselves, often making it impossible for even suicide bombers to get close. And that's usually when there are civilians (usually local Moslems) around. If attacks are to be made at all, local civilians are going to be at risk. If no attacks are made, the Islamic radicals have no publicity, and no support at all from fellow Moslems.

The basic problem is that the Islamic radical groups promise too much. And the only way to achieve their grandiose goals is through bold and provocative action. Blowing things up, in a place where the international media will notice, helps get things started. But an increasing number of Islamic radicals have figured out that this "bold action" approach not only fails, but makes the Islamic radicals hated by fellow Moslems. Fortunately for the hard liners, the bulk of the new recruits are either ignorant, or mentally deranged. These fellows can more easily motivated. But those terrorists who can reason and sort things out, are seeking a new strategy.

Even al Qaeda opposed (quietly) the bloody tactics of the Iraqi branch after 2004. That branch has since been greatly reduced, but their spirit lives on in Afghanistan, where most of the civilians being killed are victims of Islamic terrorists. No one has come up with better tactics, and the existing ones at least keep the cause in the news, and that results in some recruits and cash still showing up.


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