Friday, October 22, 2004

Open Source Jihad

Afghanistan, Iraq: Two Wars Collide (
Marc Sageman, a psychologist and former CIA case officer who studies the formation of jihadist cells, said the inspirational power of the Sept. 11 attacks -- and rage in the Islamic world against U.S. steps taken since -- has created a new phenomenon. Groups of young men gather in common outrage, he said, and a violent plan takes form without the need for an outside leader to identify, persuade or train those who carry it out.

The brutal challenge for U.S. intelligence, Sageman said, is that "you don't know who's going to be a terrorist" anymore. Citing the 15 men who killed 190 passengers on March 11 in synchronized bombings of the Spanish rail system, he said "if you had gone to those guys in Madrid six months prior, they'd say 'We're not terrorists,' and they weren't. Madrid took like five weeks from inception."

Much the same pattern, officials said, preceded deadly attacks in Indonesia, Turkey, Kenya, Morocco and elsewhere. There is no reason to believe, they said, that the phenomenon will remain overseas.

Such attacks do not rely on leaders as the Bush administration strategy has conceived them. New jihadists can acquire much of the know-how they need, Sageman and his counterparts still in government said, in al Qaeda's Saudi-published magazines, Al Baatar and the Voice of Jihad, available online.

Microsoft's dominance and power created open source solutions. Natural selection, operating in the world of economics, produced an entity that monopolistic abuses could not eliminate.

In the much more brutal domain of state and non-state conflict, Bush's strategy created a new entity, call it open source jihad. Fueled by donations from Saudi Arabia and Syria, trained by widely distributed manuals, inspired by Al Jazeera, powered by nihilism, hatred, despair and xenophobia. Bush's response is to keep killing them until they are all gone.

And 92% of Americans consider this an effective strategy?

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