2 dec. 2008

Ingredients for a Fundamentalist Attack

Photo: a name to watch:
Pakistani general Ali Mohammed Jan Aurakzai

By Gary Brecher of eXiledonline:
"Terrorism is usually a matter of spending as few of your people as you can, but somebody connected with al-Qaida or its Pakistani fan club decided to spend a lot of lives here. That's what's interesting, looking at these attacks cold-bloodedly. Suppose you're an al-Qaida honcho deciding how to get maximum bang for your resources. Until now the solution has been bombs, most of the time. Because bombs can be planted by a few men, and if they set the timers right and keep a low profile, there's a good chance those men will get away to plant more bombs another day. And since good men are hard to find, especially good men willing to risk having their fingernails pulled out in a police basement, that's the way most terrorist movements decide to go.

"Not this time. If these guys sent men to 10 different locations in Mumbai, they spent a lot of lives. They'd have to assume that none of these men will come back alive. Suppose they sent 10 men to each location. You need numbers for this sort of frontal assault in a heavily policed city, so that seems like a good number. Even if the real number turns out to be lower, say seven men to each location, that's 70 supporters' lives spent in one raid. Not the sort of thing that makes your human resources manager happy.

"But it comes down to what you might as well call market forces, and in those terms it makes perfect sense. Supply and demand. Supply: it looks like the gunmen came from Pakistan by ship. Supplies of dumb, trigger-happy young Pakistanis in a hurry to find martyrdom are basically infinite. Thanks to the CIA, ISI and Saudi funding, there are now more than 4000 madrassas, martyrdom academies, in Pakistan.

"Now quality, that's a different issue. How much is the life of one of these cannon-fodder kids worth, to the movement? That depends on a lot of factors. If you're that al-Qaida HR manager and you had to construct your dream recruit, he'd speak unaccented American or British English; he'd be white, or East Asian looking; he'd be comfortable in urban/yuppie life anywhere in the West; he'd have a cool head, know how to smile like a car salesman all the time and talk sports; and underneath he'd have total Terminator dedication to the cause and be immune to the attractions of the evil world you'd be sending him to infiltrate. [The attackers weren't] smooth enough to get through normal hotel security to plant a bomb, but they didn't have to be. They just stormed in through the front door, firing at full automatic.

"That's why this talk about whether security at the hotels was adequate is ridiculous. Hotel security is aimed at stopping sneak attacks, bomb-planters. To stop the sort of heavily armed suicide squads that hit these hotels, you'd need a full platoon of infantry. So what you see here is something economists would understand as well or better than traditional military analysts. I hate to sound cold-blooded, putting it this way, but what happened is that Pakistan's Islamists had a surplus of raw labor and thought of a way to get it to a place where it maximized its global value in terms of pure blood and destruction."
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