01 February 2010

Crossroads: Jihadi Infiltration in the US

*Disclaimer: The information provided for readers in this posting does not serve as either my personal or professional advocation for the work and/or the views expressed by the authors and/or participants in association with the work undertaken. It is provided objectively as a resource for exploring information and perspectives in order to arrive at the truth. Furthermore, those that mistake my concluding points as arguments against the Muslim community are wrong; I simply intend to focus my analysis on the threat of jihadi persons and groups within US communities and agencies, not the Muslim Ummah and their social, cultural, political, and religious beliefs, traditions, customs, and structures.

My colleague, JD, analyzed the use of "Counter Narratives" for the establishment of federal-level engagement teams under the direction of the Department of State. Given the need for coalition building between (a) federal law enforcement and policy agencies and (b) Arab and Muslim leaders and citizens, narratives can constructively undertake information warfare.

As I discussed last Friday, it is becoming ever more clear that Al Qaeda's Phase IV Strategy incorporates attacks on US economic and legal frameworks as well as emerging US-domestic operational environments. This is being witnessed internationally, too, as the Taliban, AQAP, and Al Shabaab step-up their transnational terrorism efforts in alignment with AQCL ideology. It is in our national security interest - and the interest of the world - to prevent AQ from establishing safe havens in poor socio-economic regions; as we must protect peoples from their false promises. (See more insight on Economics and Terrorism from Abu Muqawama at CNS)

Combating jihadi propaganda through counter-narratives promises to (a) drive down AQ popularity by (b) crystallizing ethnic differences and (c) promoting collaboration to further a unified message-scheme. It will, as David Bellavia writes in his post entitled, "The Backbone of Islam," "...unmask al Qaeda" for what it really is.
The question remains, however, whether information warfare can unravel what Bill Whittle argues to be "Islamic Infiltration" in his latest report. See Part Two here.

The FBI is no stranger to moles; just ask about Robert Hanssen who sold millions of dollars worth of intelligence to Soviet spies. His trecherous activies cost lives as well as billions of dollars. Then-FBI Director, Louis J. Freeh, stated in a 20 February 2001 Press Release, "This kind of criminal conduct represents the most traitorous action imaginable against a country governed by the Rule of Law."

The crossroads of US and Islamic Rule of Law and Shar'iah's interwoven elements (i.e. "Shar'iah-Compliment Finance" discussed in the link provided) is exactly what Whittle's report brings into question, and that which Frank Gaffney of the Center For Security Policy has been covering for years.

The former Department of Defense analyst quoted in Whittle's video states;
"...[O]ver a long period of time I ended up collecting a large body of Islamic law, an enormous amount of it available in English, and realized that if Islamic law is the criteria by which you measure legitimacy or illegitimacy you can’t show that the moderates have a doctrinal basis for the position they hold, and you can’t show that on the statement of the law the radicals are wrong."
As a result, the unidentified analyst argues, "...the whole [US] national security apparatus...moved from a factual, legal basis to one that supports the narratives." The juxtaposed narratives of righteous Muslims and jihadi extremists need to be understood and clarified to arrive at what is virtuous and true. This is exactly what I think JD attempted to analyze and provide a strategic framework for in order to secure US social, cultural, and political prosperity.

We ought to worry about the infiltration of jihadi ideology throughout US demographics as much as operatives within US federal agency ranks. It is the task of security professionals to divide and conquer moles; it is a separate but just as integral task of citizens to identify and report on questionable activity. This is precisely the reason why the Intelligence Community should find it in their best interest to integrate a realistic system for identifying the religious and social behaviors of radical jihadists. Civic engagament teams can help strike a balance between encouraging what is safe and identifying what is harmful, that which decays and that which prospers. Policy debates ought to surround the questions, "What is the balance of allowing and encouraging diversity of thought and practice while disrupting and dismantling jihadi propaganda?"

Increasing social and cultural awareness requires a thorough analysis of what we have been witnessing for some years now in England, France and Germany, who are experiencing emerging AQ threats as well as tensions between regional/national heritage and customs of the Muslim Ummah and Shar'iah Law. Analysts and professionals alike are bound to become more frustrated in differentiating between righteous customs and jihadi customs if we fail to deciphere between efforts of propaganda and democratic prosperity. Such work can, as I said, (a) crystallize ethnic differences and (b) promote collaboration.

In one of my upcoming posts, I will elaborate on the FBI's Community Outreach Program in order to assess how JD's engagement teams can strategically counter jihadi narratives (i.e. exposed in false sharia fatwas that are not legitimate) through civic coalitions. This will, I think, holistically strengthen the ability of CT professionals to track, monitor, and interrupt actual and/or potential moles in agency rank and file and radicals moving throughout regional areas of society.


  1. I think there is good reason to compartmentalize the infiltration:

    A) Do I think there is a problem within the ranks of the FBI, or other agencies for that matter? I am unsure myself, and am continuing to research this depending on open-source intel. From what I understand, many agencies need more Arab and Muslim analysts and agents.

    Is this a problem that needs to remain on the table? Yes, of course, as it is always a possibility. The question is how and where.

    B) Do I think this is an issue concerning the US socio-cultural dynamic? Absolutely, and I experienced it while a graduate student. Postmodernism and multiculturalism, in many ways, are avenues for division rather than unity. Diversity often argues for sympathy; rather, I seek truth.

    Do I think this is a trend that will continue? Yes, and the connections between, for example, Pakistan and the Virginia Jihad Network highlight this concern. Also, Yemen and Somalia.

    Remember, one-third of plots since 9/11 happened in 2009.

  2. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 02/02/2010 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  3. More analysis on Blair's testimony, and the concern of US-born terrorists engaging in attacks on the homeland; http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0204/Homegrown-terrorism-a-growing-concern-for-US-intelligence.

    On the last point in the article concerning "why they radicalize," you must read a post on the LWJ by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross (Research Director, FDD); http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2010/01/is_the_importance_of_terrorist.php.

    I encourage you to read the direct link to Jessica Stern's article in the WaPo.

  4. Threat Identification Processes

    Once again I am concerned with fuzzy Threat Identification, TI. If I am doing TI on AQ, or any opponent, I want to select targets that are of real Value to him so that he is well and truly damaged. Now, I am concerned here with the possibility that this post fails at rigorous TI, and potentially degrades legitimate legal discourse within the United States.

    In the second paragraph, it states that there is an “attack” by AQ on the U.S. “Legal Framework”. This paragraph includes a link that further enunciates, sort of, this AQ Threat. Much of the piece then proceeds as though such an “attack” is well under way.

    TI is the product of rigorous analytical processes, and I do not see such rigor here. Certainly there is a hot debate among real legal scholars about venue and process selection, but AQ is not in these debates. Additionally, American Muslims seem to be preparing to enter the Courts to defend their religious rights, but this is an Anglo-Saxon tradition that predates the Mayflower. What is clearly an erudite pos could be clearer on Threat Identification. After all, eradicating real Threats is the real business of War Fighters.