07 January 2010

Milestones of Growth For Jihadist Groups

I'm out on a staff ride for FACCC today, but I wanted to drop a quick post after the Obama et al briefings today. Please excuse the lack of hyperlinks, I'm typing this on my phone and am thus limited in capability.

In the round of briefings by the President's national security team this afternoon, it was mentioned during the Q&A portion that AQAP had made threats of attacking the US, but (essentially) the US was not expecting an attack from the group.

Understanding now the level of maturity of AQAP, how do we analyze and identify the key milestones met to grow from separate regional insurgencies into the transnational threat AQAP now must be considered?

This week both DP and I have discussed al Shabaab's global aspirations and the likely achievement of those aspirations in Europe. Until fairly recently al Shabaab was considered (at most) a regional threat. It is now apparent they are likely much more when considering their potential to mobilize segments of the vast Somali diaspora.

Srinagar, Kashmir was the site of a Lashkar e Taiba attack today in which four people (including two attackers) were killed. This was LeT's first activity inside Kashmir in two years, potentially signaling a resurgence inside Kashmir and Jammu. In Pat's previous post, he discussed the possibility of transnational aspirations for LeT.

Analyzing, understanding and cataloguing the key milestones and steps required for growth and maturation of an insurgency is imperative for Western governments and societies. We simply cannot wait for another group to develop into the threat we're currently seeing in al Shabaab and AQAP. I fully believe there are similarities in the way insurgent groups mature. There is likely a framework or methodology Western governments can utilize in order to identify developing transnational jihadist groups earlier in the cycle. By identifying these groups earlier, Western governments would (theoretically) be able to work with threatened governments and apply preventative support in a combined inter-agency / -governmental (and specifically tailored) approach to the threatened government.

We have to get ahead of these groups. We won't continue to get lucky.


  1. In your post you mention how mature these terrorist groups have become and I agree, these groups have evolved. When the United States publicly began the war on terror almost 10 years ago it set off a chain of events that have led us to the current nature of terrorism. As America put more pressure on Middle Eastern countries to combat terrorism there has been a gradual adaptation and evolution of extremists methods and procedures. I believe the greatest adaptation, and therefore the most important part of a successful terrorist network, is how these groups communicate with one another. Countries who are openly combating extremists activities must cut off the lines of communication between the groups. Transnational terrorism is not an easy enemy to combat. Battles with these groups will be fought within borders of sovereign nations who may or may not be so inclined to cooperate fully with the Wests anti-terrorism agenda. With that said I believe the most important part in the Wests anti-terrorism strategy would be to intercept and disrupt any and all communication methods the extremists use.

  2. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 01/08/2010 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  3. Don't forget you not only need to cut LOC's, you have to cut lines of finance (LOF) as well. McKnife

  4. McKnife beat me to it here. Follow the money.