Thursday, January 21, 2010

Part Two: How To Fight Islamic Terrorism

Last night, we talked about the myths that our leaders believe which keep them from designing effective policies to combat Islamic terrorism. Now let’s talk about what they should be doing. To defeat Islamic terrorism, we need to stop ordinary Muslims from wanting to become terrorists. Otherwise, this struggle will continue generation after generation. To achieve this, we need to change the mindset that leads average Muslims to become terrorists. We also need to hunt down existing terrorists, but the real key will be in stopping the flow of volunteers.

Stopping The Flow of Volunteers

The only way to stop Islamic terrorism is to stop Muslims from wanting to become terrorists. Without volunteers, their leadership becomes powerless and their organizations fall apart. There are no quick fixes in this regard, but there are certain policies that will work over time.

Policy No. 1: Reforming Islam
The first thing we need to do is to reform Islam. Yeah, you read that right.

The primary motivational force turning Muslims into terrorists today is fundamentalist Islam. The Islamic world is dotted with thousands of schools where radical clerics teach young children that all of their problems are the result of evil westerners and that eternal glory awaits them if they die fighting us. But to call these “schools” is a bit misleading. They are brainwashing centers. They teach children a version of the Koran (by rote memorization) that disdains all other knowledge and breaks the world into believers and infidels, all in the hopes of creating the next generation of jihadists. There is nothing scholarly going on here, it is pure brainwashing akin to doomsday cults.
NOTE: Many Muslims will complain that this is an unfair characterization because the majority of these schools do not teach radical Islam. But if radical Islam were truly considered a blight on Islam -- rather being seen as useful ally, the rest of Islam would work to eradicate it. . . they are not. And, in any event, their contention is irrelevant. These schools exist, and they either go unchallenged or whatever the moderates are doing isn’t working. In either event, it’s time to act.
What we need to do is to take a page from the terrorists own book. As they have done, we too must establish thousands of these schools across the Muslim world. As they have turned their schools into community focal points, so must we. These schools must network with other like-minded institutions. They must use the money available to them to provide jobs and charity and to provide “government services” where local government basically does not exist. This is the same model that Hezbollah uses to great effect in the Palestinian territories. It is the same model used by successful insurgents the world over. This is the model that lets you change the hearts and minds of local people.

Now for the controversial part. First, this needs to be a covert program. As far as the world can know, these schools must appear to be set up by one or more Islamic foundations of scholars or wealthy benefactors. If there is the slightest hint that America is behind the creation of these schools, they will be as welcome as lepers.

Secondly, and this is the real key, we need to control the curriculum. And by that, I don’t just mean whether or not math is taught. I am talking about controlling how Islam itself is taught at these schools. Specifically, we need these schools to teach an interpretation of Islam that removes the ideas (1) that there is a distinction between actions taken against believers and those taken against infidels, (2) that education is bad, (3) that Allah encourages murder, and (4) that women are inferior and should not be educated.

This may sound horrible to American sensibilities, given our rich history of religious freedom, but this is hardly unique in the world. The French are already doing something similar by requiring that all Imams in France receive the approval of the government before they can preach -- the idea is to keep out radical Imams. Other countries have created panels to offer approved versions of Islam. Similarly, keep in mind that these radical schools are themselves using a form of reinterpreted Islam created by Wahhabism. We would simply be changing that back.

The goal behind this plan would be to draw ordinary Muslims away from the more radical schools, and to inject a more tolerant and peaceful form of Islam into their increasingly radicalized society. If done correctly, this could change the Muslim world from one focused on hatred and beset by discrimination to one that can live in peace with its neighbors.
Policy No. 2: Eliminate Grievances
We also need to change the things we do that outrage the Muslim world. Two come to mind immediately.
Policy No. 2a: Eliminating Grievances: Minimizing The American Presence In Muslim Lands
The first thing we need to do is to lower our profile throughout the Muslim world. Rightly or wrongly, Muslims see the United States as the new colonial master. They are upset that we have troops scattered throughout the region. They are particularly upset at our presence in Saudi Arabia, at the war in Iraq and our continuing presence there, and at our war in Afghanistan. To fix this, we need to do the following:
• We need to exit Iraq and Afghanistan, and we need to stop sending large contingents of ground forces into the region. When military action is called for, we need to use covert operations, air strikes, or local troops whenever possible, preferably without claiming responsibility.

• We need to move our military out of sensitive countries, like Saudi Arabia, i.e. places considered holy by Muslims, and relocate them to places where their presence will be less controversial. We should also locate our bases away from their population centers.
The disappearance of American troops will rob the terrorist of their claim that we are crusaders or occupiers. Along the same lines, our leaders need to stop talking about this being a war, and they need to stop making bellicose threats. This is a propaganda war, and we need to stop playing into the terrorists hands by sounding like we intend to dominate the region.
Policy No. 2b: Eliminating Grievances: Changing The Way We Deal With Regional Governments
We also need to change the way we deal with governments in the region. Most Arab countries are run by repressive, corrupt despots. We get the blame for that because we have supported them throughout the years. We need to make significant changes in this regard.

First, we need to aim for energy independence by allowing off-shore drilling and investing in the necessary resources to spark a massive conversion to natural gas, instead of petroleum. Why? Because right now our need for Middle East oil holds us hostage to some of these governments. If we can achieve energy independence, which we can, then we free ourselves to act more freely throughout the region (not to mention that I would rather send $500 billion a year to middle America than the Middle East).

Secondly, we need to create a list of principles that we will treat as a prerequisite for getting aid from the United States. These principles should be designed to significantly improve the every day lives of people in these countries: free and fair elections, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, transparent government and enforcement of strong anti-corruption laws, respect for due process and rule of law, and independent judiciaries. We need to very publicly announce these and we need to stick with them.

These steps will make it virtually impossible for anyone to convince “the Arab street” that we are responsible for the oppression or failures that beset Muslims.

Third, when we do provide aid, we need to use this as a public relations opportunity. In other words, we need to stop handing out money and then looking the other way. Instead, we need to target specific projects or causes for which the aid is intended, and then we need to administer those ourselves. We need to let the local people know that American money is providing them with their jobs, with their roads, and with their food aid -- all of which needs to be prominently labeled with American flags and distributed by American workers.

This will ensure that our money is not wasted or misused, and that we get credit on the ground for our charity, rather than having the credit taken by the local governments.

All told, this will go a long, long way to making us again the beacon of hope and freedom, and making it so much harder for terrorists to find grounds for inciting hatred against us.

Hunting Down Terrorists

In addition to stopping the flow of volunteers, we do need to continue hunting down existing terrorists. This calls for infiltration combined with military action, and policing.
Policy No. 1: Infiltration & Military Action
Our main focus in terms of stopping existing terrorists must be infiltrating their organizations. We need to send hundreds of agents to every corner of the world to join these groups. And we need to treat this as a military operation, not a law enforcement operation. Our goal should not be to gather enough evidence to bring these people to trial, but should be to determine who they are and where they are so that they can be wiped out by military force.

Yet, we must be smart about this. We should not send the military to fight large scale ground wars against Muslims because that only feeds their propaganda machine and plays into the motif of America as colonizer. Instead, these should involve the so-called surgical strikes -- air strikes, snipers, special ops -- against specific targets, like terrorist training facilities or identified terrorist leaders or cell. And in each instance, we need to go in with the understanding that the moment the strike is over, our forces withdraw, preferably without ever claiming responsibility.
Policy No. 2: Effective Policing
In addition to infiltration, we should continue out policing efforts. This involves trying to interdict their money and weapons, and trying to build ties with local communities so that they turn these terrorists in. Generally, this involves doing the same kind of police work it takes to bring down street gangs and drug cartels -- something at which the FBI has become quite adept.


The key to ending Islamic terrorism is to starve these terrorist organizations of the volunteers they need to wage their terror campaigns. That makes this a propaganda war, not a shooting war. When we turn this into a shooting war, we play into their hands and feed their propaganda machines. Instead, we need to deprive them of the grievances upon which they rely, we need to wage our own propaganda war to combat fundamentalist Islam, and, when we do need to use force, we need to do so quietly.

The alternative is that we spend the next 100 years fighting in one Muslim country after another, as a never-ending supply of terrorists continue to mount attacks all over the world.



Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - very interesting solutions.

policy 1 - reforming Islam. I just have this vision of anybody going under cover to set up anti-jihadist schools getting their head cut off early in the game. I agree in theory, but chances seem about as strong as winning militarily

policy 2 - I agree with minimizing our presence in Muslim lands and energy independence. You didn't mention our position on Israel. I have long felt as long as we support Israel, we would have a hard row to hoe in winning hearts and minds of Muslims.

policy 3 - changing the way we give aid - I totally agree. I remember reading Ugly American as a young man. I think if they don't let us stay involved, just quit giving aide to that country.

policy 4 - I don't disagree with the notion of fighting guerilla tactics in this way as long as we realize it will be a long slow haul. It takes time, time, time, to get our intelligence built up and we will have to get used to set backs like the recent bombing of the CIA agents.

VEry Intriguing Andrew, and like we said yesterday, there are no simple solutions, but it is a great starting point.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed! I think these are a much better solution than what we're doing now.

I agree that it will be dangerous to set up these schools, but that's why this needs to appear "organic". In other words, it can't appear like an American operation, it needs to be set up by Muslims who work for us. I actually think it will be less dangerous than it appears because, if we do this right, they will just appear like Muslim charity groups.

In terms of Israel, I started to talk about that originally, but that really needs an entirely separate post -- just too many facets.

I agree completely about the aid -- they need us, not the other way around. If they decide they don't want to meet the conditions, then we don't give the aid. I doubt these governments are stable enough to go without that aid for very long.

Finally, in terms of taking time, I agree. We need patience, which is not something our politicians are good at -- but covert action can usually be done with much less political interference. Also, this is going to take time no matter what -- we might as well do it right.

Writer X said...

Andrew, very interesting post!

If there's one message I'm getting from THE LOOMING TOWER (our book club selection) is just how ingrained radical Islam is in the culture. That said, I wonder where you recruit the people to run/fund schools that don't preach hate against Western cultures? We're told that these people exist yet when attacks happen, barely a handful (if that) speak out against it.

I'm totally on board with energy independence. We've made ourselves beholden to the Middle East for oil and we don't need to be.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, There are groups that already work with the US that could help us -- either in supplying people or in finding and training people. For example, there are exile groups in the US from almost every country in the Middle East. They would be key in understanding the nuances of Islam.

There are also numerous scholars throughout the region who could help us -- either wittingly or unwittingly.

The real key is going to be in designing the cirriculum and monitoring the teachers once you get started to make sure that they stay on the path.

Energy independence makes sense on so many levels, but getting free of the Middle East is probably the biggest -- plus, can you image the money we ship to Saudi Arabia going instead to Arkansas and Idaho and places like that? The effect on our economy would be stunning.

MegaTroll said...

Good articles! Once again, Commentarama gives us something you just don't hear anywhere else. Someone should called Napolitano and tell her to read this (or have it read to her if she can't read). Nice work!

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: First of all, I hope that people don't miss the point that you (and I) agree that ground wars in some form or another have to be fought as they arise. It is clear to me that you are not proposing that we cease using our military force in "hot spots" throughout the world. But people need to realize that unless we're prepared to launch all-out war against the entire Islamic world, we must begin to think differently.

The idea of "planting" new schools to counter the madrassahs is excellent. Schools that teach that suicide bombing is the fast-track to paradise are a major source of volunteers. I would only add that the First Amendment doesn't prevent America from doing a similar thing domestically. An Islamic mosque storing weapons in the basement is a "clear and present danger" exception to free speech and freedom of religion. Likewise, the imam who is preaching destruction of America on the floor above that basement has no First Amendment protection either.

Your "eliminating grievances" section sums up my view as well.

As for "hunting down the terrorists," that is the major failure of our recent policies, and there must be a sea-change in our attitudes. We must strengthen military black ops, and quit crippling the CIA. I could exposit on this subject for days, but I'll keep it simple. We must immediately stop treating terrorism as if we can play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Hunt them down. Kill them. Use every trick we know to accomplish that, and invent new ones. Dump the crap about "Americans don't do that," or there won't be any Americans left. And it is long past time to quit pretending that it is immoral to assassinate terrorist leaders at every opportunity. That idiotic idea is not protected by law or the Constitution. It's a mere "executive order" which can be overturned with the stroke of a pen. I'll be glad to provide that pen.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Mega, we strive to bring you content that you won't get anywhere else. Plus, we like to look at things from new perspectives. I'd suggest forwarding the artile to Napolitano, but I doubt she'll care. Too bad.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree about ground forces. If an event arises that truly justifies a war, then we shouldn't hesitate -- but short of that, we really need to rethink our use of the military. This just isn't that kind of "war." This is the kind of war that needs to be fought by intelligence and covert actions.

I also think planting these schools is an excellent idea -- in fact, I think that would be a tremendous idea because it's the only way to counter the rampant propaganda from the fundamentalists. I agree that the First Amendment would not bar this, anymore than it bars other psychological operations/propaganda campaigns.

On eliminating grievances, I think it's amazing that no one has tried this yet? I attribute that to the Cold War mentality that we're afraid of offending people we might need against the Soviets. It's time to start placing demands on our "friends."

In terms of covert action, like I said, I think that we need to realize that this is a military situation, not a policing situation. There is no reason we should have to wait until we have enough evidence to convict before we act, nor is there any reason to treat these combatants as if they were mere criminals. If you take up arms against the United States, then you are a legitimate target.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: A recent study discovered that the most successful converters of potential terrorists are ex-terrorists. There is a strong connection between terrorists who maintained their family connections at home and abandonment of their terrorist beliefs. Al Qaeda and its ilk, like all cults, pushes its disciples to leave their families and former beliefs behind. Yet the American intelligence agencies have no known plans to use these ex-terrorists for the moral purpose of turning other potential terrorists away from radical Islam. This is one of many gaps which need to be filled at the earliest possible time. It is one of the areas which needs immediate re-thinking.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think that goes back to the Clinton years, when they passed a law (or executive order -- can't remember which) that forbade the CIA from working with people with criminal records. . . the very kinds of people most likely to work against their own people. Stupid huh?

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: The very same people who would blithely repeat "it takes a thief to catch a thief" deny that reality when it comes to intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism. They're hopeless. Besides, if that rule were universally applied, intelligence agencies would be forbidden to talk to half of the members of the Obama administration. Come to think of it, that's not a half bad idea.

patti said...

i think you were put at the top of their list today. they are putting up fliers in all the best caves with you uncle sam profile pic on it in (although your name appears above it). durka durka!

StanH said...

It looks reasonable. I most especially like energy independence. This is a self inflicted wound given to us by our enviroweenies. This would allow the out of sight out of mind foreign policy, you want to eat your young have at it, who cares, eat oil, etc.

The schools would be good but challenging on many levels in the Middle East. The Islamogoons would target these “moderate” madrassas with every fiber in their bomb splattered being. But in the west it can be done, and should.

Black Ops are taking place with the Predator strikes, and as you say even more are required. This keeps these idiots on their heels worrying about their own lives, instead of killing others.

Foreign Aid in most cases is a black hole where money simply evaporates in the guise of good intentions. To control how it’s spent would require the State Department to abandon moral equivalence arguments and understand that there is good and evil, choose one or the other.

In the case of our military, in the case of Iran we may not have a choice. If we don’t Israel will. We’ll see.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, Fortunately, I'm difficult to find! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, The schools would be challenging, but I don't think they'd be any bigger targets than anything else over there. For all intents and purposes, they would appear to be just another religious school. They wouldn't advertise their "moderate"ness.

The drones are nice, but they are actually a symbol of the failure of the CIA that began under Clinton. At that point, the CIA decided to give up most of their secret-agent type surveillance in favor of high tech spying -- satellites and drones. That works fine when you know who your targets are (except for all the ease with which the other side can claim that we mistakenly killed civilians) but it doesn't help you figure out who the enemy is or spot them, nor does it help you work your way up their chain of command to locate other cell groups.

CrispyRice said...

Very interesting, Andrew! I'll need to mull this over a bit.

AndrewPrice said...

Mull away. . . ;-)

Joel Farnham said...


The only thing that I see is possible is becoming energy independent. The rest..... Long hard thought first.

Thanks for the thoughts.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, There's no doubt that this will be a long hard sell because people are comfortable in their current thinking -- (right) send the army to kill a gnat we can't find or (left) hope they all go away and (both) keep telling the public that we can protect ourselves by strip searching little old ladies as they board airplanes.

But as the years drag on and nothing changes, people will start to demand real solutions.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew (and Joel): We've been doing this whole thing wrong since before the first World Trade Center bombing. That was sixteen years ago. It might take another sixteen years to get it right, but every journey begins with a single step. We need to take that step--yesterday.

This applies equally to energy-independence. When he squelched development of the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve's oceans of oil, Bill Clinton said that "besides, it would be ten years before we would see a single drop." That means that we would have been pumping huge quantities of oil about four or five years ago. Just because a thing can't be done quickly and easily doesn't mean it shouldn't be done at all.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, You're absolutely right -- that's the Democratic line on all of these things: "It will take ten years, so we can't do it." But wouldn't it have been nice to be getting American oil out of the ground starting a couple years ago?

The idea that something will take time is a reason to start right away, not to avoid doing the right thing.

Individualist said...


I find your proposal to be reasonable. I think at this point it is possible to get out of Iraq. I think the country is now stable enough.

Afghanistan I am not so confident. We could leave but it will revert back to the terrorists or worse.

There are causes that we can take up such as the forced emigration from East Turkistan of the Uyghur’s by China. In Iran the Greens look to us … I think?

The one element that I am afraid would overshadow everything is Israel. We would have to be seen as backing away from them or we would have to change hearts and minds regarding that issue.

The main problem I think is not that the Wahabi’s are fanatics it is that they are well funded fanatics. The Saudi's are behind a lot of this fervor and the anti-Semitism that goes with it.

There recently was a very good show on the Koran by NAt Geo . One of the things they stated was that in these Madrasahs are using versions of the Koran with embellishments. When a verse would state Beware the Infidels they would at a parenthetical statement at the end like “such as the Jews and Christians who are all evil”. This could be used in our campaign.

According to the Nat Geo special the Koran is an unusual religious text in that it is really religious based poetic verses. It is meant to be interpreted. You might then want to focus on interpreting the Koran especially emphasizing concepts such as all Jews, Christians and Muslims being “People of the Book”.

Unfortunately I think your plan might take 100 years but it is a long term goal. You are right now we are just reacting . Good Post!

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, Thanks. I actually saw the Nat Geo special you are talking about -- I thought it was incredibly well done and extremely informative. It really highlighted the problem we are facing and it certainly played into my thinking about us needing to combat their interpretation of Islam directly.

I think you're right about the need to push Saudi Arabia to cut off the funding. That would be crucial, and should be included under the idea of changing our relationship with the region's governments. If we pulled our troops out (exposing the Saudis to the possibility that we won't be there if they need us) and we moved toward energy independence (threatening them with economic problems), I think that we could get a lot of leverage to pull something like that off. In fact, we might even be able to get them to fund our side.

I agree that Israel will continue to be a huge sticking point. I was going to talk about that in the article, but it was just too much to discuss with the limited space I could have given it.

I would suggest a multi-pronged strategy. (1) We absolutely guarantee their security. (2) We publicly force them to give the Palestinians a state -- with power comes responsibility and disappointment (as Hamas has learned). (3) We then publicly extract ourselves from the "peace process" so that the perception that we are responsible for whatever happens between the two goes away. Then we wait and see what happens.

I think that once the Palestinians have a state, their hatred shifts from Israel to their own government and the rest of the Arab league will abandon them because they don't want to have to help the Palestinians out. At that point, I think the issue starts to dry up -- especially if we make any progress in forcing their own Arab governments to become more free and open.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. I don't think it will take 100 years at all. We could do everything except the schools by the end of the year if we wanted. That would pay huge immediate dividends in Arab public opinion.

The school plan would then take a couple generations (maybe 10-20 years).

But the alternative is that we go on for 100 years of fighting wars and coming home, and then going back.

(By the way, on Afghanistan, I don't think we'll every create a stable government -- see my post on Afghanistan: Should We Leave Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

I have been a little occupied so am responding to this blog later than I wanted.

When we ( America) captures a terrorist on the field of encounter we interrogate. When using our unpleasant but non injurious methods have obtained the Information that one contains do we put them to death, no we incarcerate. And then provide a life style better than they have ever enjoyed, including the best medical,dental and dietary considerations the world has.

When we capture any of these low life's here on our own soil are they put to death? Again no we use our convoluted laws that protect our enemies better than they do our own citizens to incarcerate or set them free. Sheik Omar (the blind Imam)who tried to bring down the World Trade Center is currently lolling about in one of our sanitary prisons enjoying all of the care he could ever need.

We are seen by these people as weak and cowardly. It is time for us to understand a few efforts in symbolism could really hammer home we won't be messed with any more.

I offer beheading with a sword which has just been lubricated with pig fat, this done publicly and broadcast throughout the Arab world. Sending the remains home wrapped in pig skin (not a football)with the message it stops or we also will continue.

Profiling placed in effect now and if you can prove your self we will provide you with ID that cannot be counterfeit. Even that has a string attached. Miss use it and you loose it as the minimum.

Our borders become as secure as the most paranoid security personnel can dream up. Domestic air travel has all the time effort and money being currently spent on security focused on border security, instead of the current exercise in harassment.

Travelers who are qualified to carry a concealed weapon are encouraged to do so on all modes of transportation they might use.

We implement the Israeli method of airport security and insist we are the ones applying it at any and all foreign air terminals where an airplane will be leaving and landing on American soil.

Enough now addressing this has now raised my anger level I'm not happy right now.

rlaWTX said...

Andrew: Very thought-provoking. I have been unsatisfied with the status quo, but simply not informed enough to imagine solutions. [and therefore one of the knee-jerk "we can't leave"ers]This goes toward filling that gap.

My questions are:
[1] How on God's green earth do we ever get this done?
[2] Can any one part succeed without the whole?

I seriously do not believe that we have the moral terpitude (is that the rt word?) to DO these. They would require leaders who are willing to be one-term, because the initial implementation would be unpopular (due to our brain-washed masses) [it's not FAIR. it's not NICE. WE don't DO that.] And they'd have to be complicated enough that the next seat-fillers couldn't undo them with a swipe of a pen.

Now, I'm depressed. Thoughtful, but depressed.

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