Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Friday, March 21, 2008

Laptop Jihadi

Ortho from Baudrillard's Bastards always provides some good reading on the weekends. This particular post he links to a London Review of Books review on the topic of the Al Qaeda strategist Abu Mus’ab al-Suri. The book in question is Architect of Global Jihad by Brynjar Lia ..

The review is critical of the book but it is also just plain awesome and a must read. Some key quotes:

"it was al-Suri who first argued that in order to survive, al-Qaida had to become a kind of travelling army based on mobile, nomadic, flexible cells operating independently of one another, unified by little more than a common ideology – and by the sense of shared grievances that the West’s ‘war on terror’ was likely to foster among Muslims. The concept of ‘leaderless jihad’, now much in vogue among so-called terrorism experts, is to a great extent al-Suri’s invention ... "

"... in his last published work, The Global Islamic Resistance Call, al-Suri rigorously anatomised the jihadi movement’s failures – stodgy, hierarchical forms of political organisation, carelessness about security and indifference to long-term strategy – and tried to explain how the movement could learn from them. The jihadi movement, he argues in The Call, needs a new fighting strategy based on ‘unconnected cells’, operating out of safe houses and ‘camps of nomadic mujahedin’. In order to resist penetration by intelligence services, the movement should be decentralised, almost anarchist. It would be the sum of its actions, from ‘individual operations’ like the murder of tourists and ‘democratic dissidents’ in Muslim countries to ‘deterrence’ operations in Europe ..."

"... Though he embroiders his arguments with the occasional quote from the Koran, he clearly prefers to discuss the modern literature of guerrilla warfare. Jihadis who fail to learn from Western sources are ridiculed for their inability to ‘think outside the box’. Just as weirdly familiar is al-Suri’s celebration of nomadic fighters, mobile armies, autonomous cells, individual actions and decentralisation, which recalls not only Deleuze and Guattari’s Mille Plateaux, but the idiom of ‘flexible’ capitalism in the age of Google and call centres. His vision of jihadis training themselves in mobile camps and houses, presumably from their laptops, is not so far removed from our own off-site work world. Guerrilla life has rarely seemed so sterile, so anomic, so unlikely to promote esprit de corps. The constraints of the New World Order make jihad a rather grim, lonely crusade, a form of private combat cut off from the movement’s – mostly imagined – following. Al-Suri seems to acknowledge this when he says that the best kind of training occurs on the battlefield, which ‘has a particular fragrance’ ..."


Anonymous said...

The 6 March issue of LRB has two very good articles on Iraq. I get the LRB by subscription, and sometimes the reviews and articles are of limited interest to me, but then at other times the issues are crammed with great pieces - 6 March is one of them.

Jay@Soob said...

""... Though he embroiders his arguments with the occasional quote from the Koran, he clearly prefers to discuss the modern literature of guerrilla warfare."

Which lends one to consider if the whole of Islam isn't being effectively boiled down to a nihilistic, militant doctrine by AQ. This possibility should be welcome news as it's evidence that AQ is continuing to spiral out of the ideological orbit of Islam and even, to a degree, Wahabbism.

Jay@Soob said...

To add: and they'll likely find themselves beached on a barren ideological island of all their own.

G said...

thanks for the heads up peter, I'll check out the other ones.

good point soob. It'd be a good propaganda point to exploit amongst their inner group, not only that but you might be able to effect their tactics and operations. Make some of them fight by their own rules of war, rather than using military thought from other areas, thus limiting capability.