Bin Laden’s threat Uncovers Jihadist Message for Europe by Walid Phares

In an audiotape posted on Internet, Osama Bin Laden threatened Europe with punishment because of its “negligence in spite of the opportunity presented to take the necessary measures” to stop the republishing of the Danish cartoons. It also menaced the Vatican with retribution for an alleged role in incitement “against religion.” This al Qaeda warning would have been normal in Salafi Jihad logic. This radical movement obviously considers the drawings as an ultimate insult to Muslims and would unleash extreme violence in retaliation. Actually one would have expected al Qaeda to strike back “for the cartoons offense” long time ago. In fact, this particular audio is intriguing precisely because it is too “political,” read too sophisticated. Bin Laden’s school of Jihadism would have smitten first, explained later. So why is this message more peculiar than previous ones? What can we read into it? In short, I see in it the imprints of Jihadi “politicians” and strategists in international relations and deeply immersed in the diplomatic games across the Mediterranean. Even though it is indeed the voice of al Qaeda’s master but nevertheless one can see increasingly the impact of political operatives on the movement’s public statements. Here is why:

A raw al Qaeda reaction to the “infidel cartoons” would have been a strike back into the heart of the enemy with simple harshness and highly ideological brutality. But the audio tape has other points to make than just about the drawings. The message is heavily targeting Europe, while using the “cartoon Jihad” as a motive. Bin Laden, and the war room behind him are concerned about the rise of tough national leaders on the continent: Sarcozy, Merkel, Brown and a possible reemergence of Berlusconi’s Party. In many spots in Europe, citizens are rejecting the Jihadi intimidations and becoming vocal about it. France is going to Chad, Germany has ships in the Eastern Mediterranean and Spain is arresting more Salafists. But the traditional apologists towards the Islamist agenda in Europe, remains strong. Al Qaeda wants to use the apologists against the “resistance.” What better than threatening to strike at Europe’s peace if its liberal values are not altered? In essence this is Bin Laden’s message:

Change your laws on liberties and freedom of expression or else. “If there is no check on the freedom of your words then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our hearts.” But a thorough investigation of the origination of this argument leads not to al Qaeda’s traditional rhetoric -the group isn’t very concerned with the change of laws in infidel lands- but to demands that have been made by “long-range” Jihadists on European Governments. A simple check of archives shows that it wasn’t Bin laden or Zawahiri who have asked Europe to enact laws against “insult to religion” but more “mainstream” Islamist forces and intellectuals. Among them the Muslim Brotherhoods, the Union of Islamic Clerics (also influenced by the Brotherhoods and headed by Sheikh Yusuf al Qardawi the spiritual mentor of al Jazeera), a number of European based academics and the bulk of Wahabi radical clerics. This revealing reality if anything shows one of the two trends: Either al Qaeda is using the argumentation of political Islamists to provoke a mass clash against Europe or is it that the “political Jihadists” are now able to influence the war discourse of al Qaeda. In both cases, it deserves a closer analysis.

Bin laden’s tape curiously repeats statements by commentators on al Jazeera who accuses Europe of being the “associate” of Washington in a “War on Islam.” It also accuses the “continent” of being hypocrite by refusing to compromise on its “liberal” legal system while it makes “exceptions” when it comes to “exempt American soldiers” from its own laws: An argument simply too complicated to al Qaeda but often advanced by Islamist cadres on al Jazeera and online.

But the audio message nevertheless produces a classical series of threats a la Bin Laden by promising revenge to be “seen.” It also goes on to indict the Pope for “inspiring” this “crusade” and doesn’t miss a chance to incriminate the “apostate” Saudi monarch for not defending Islam. The tape covers many other issues such as the vital necessity of “Jihad” in Gaza an Iraq. With such a mixture of rhetoric, how to read the letter? I would recommend looking at a changing context in the Ben Ladenist messaging.

Few months ago, he sent out a piece with heavy Trotskyist overtones, using US domestic references: The impact of “American” speech writers was evident. In this audio message one can see the fingerprints of international (perhaps European) Jihadists who seem to be frustrated by demands they made but not met by the “renegade” European Governments. In the end, the message to the continent is clear: Either you follow our advice and change your laws and accommodate our ideological agenda or else, al Qaeda is unleashed on the continent.

The voice of these shadow “advisors” -or at least their arguments- have made their way to the heart of al Qaeda’s messaging machine. From here on, it is up to the Europeans to decipher this enigmatic statement. They have an opportunity to breach a very powerful code which could answer loads of unresolved questions on the continent.

And last but not least, al Jazeera’s “rapid response” to the last two tapes came in a show titled Ma wara’s al khabar (Beyond the News). The anchor, interpreting the message said Al Qaeda “is perhaps now an idea,” hence very difficult to defeat by counter terrorism measures. A powerful assertion as European security services are bracing for potential strikes -in response to this tape but also in retaliation to a Dutch documentary -assumable to be critical of the Koran- to be released soon. The al Jazeera assessment about al Qaeda is relevant as it projects the movement as invincible physically. More interesting, it coins Bin Laden’s threat as serious as it touches an issue of ijmaa bayna al muslimeen, “consensus among Muslims.” In other words, while the tape asserted so, it was al Jazeera that claimed that “the cartoons issue has created an Ijmaa-consensus among adherents.” The confusion between what Bin Laden said “it should be” and what the Qatari-funded channel said “it is” is somewhat worrisome. For the millions of viewers, including many in Europe, the line is blurred. Then came al Jazeera’s “experts in Islamist movements.” Mr Yasir al Zaatra from Jordan said al Qaeda per se doesn’t have to send militants to Europe because “local groups could offer to wage operations on European soil.” Pushing the comment farther Zaatra added that “most likely, some groups may have already offered Bin Laden to perpetrate attacks. He asserted that there are existing cells that would carry out these attacks and Bin Laden would take credit. And to reinforce the credibility of the threat, Zaatra referred (strangely) to a statement by Michael Sheuer a former CIA officer who was in charge of the Bin Laden unit. Quoting Sheuer, the al Jazeera analyst said “Bin Laden’s threats are always executed.”

Following him, another “expert on Jihadist groups,” Dr Diya’ al Zayyat said the tape is a clear menace by whom he called (for the first time) the “general guide of the Salafi Movement worldwide. He added that Bin Laden would claim responsibility of a potential action “depending on the type of operation and the publicity that would follow.” Both commentators agreed that a revenge action will take place and that European based Jihadists will carry it out. Al Jazeera’s anchor taking it to the apex called the Bin laden’s speech a “Jihadi road map.”

What I saw in the al Qaeda message(s) and the al Jazeera debate was clear: The Salafist movement worldwide was “talking” to the Europeans and the Euro-Jihadis. It was threatening Governments to retreat from the confrontation on the one hand and unleashing the pools of indoctrinated Jihadis across the continent to “engage” in violence. The near future will tell us if the trigger will be successful or not.

Open Source Insurgency by John Robb

Superempowerment

An increase in the ability of individuals and small groups to accomplish tasks/work through the combination of rapid improvements in technological tools and access to global networks — has enabled small groups to radically increase their productivity in conflict. For example, if a small group disrupts a system or a network by attacking systempunkts, it can amplify the results of its attacks to achieve as much as a 1,400,000 percent return on investment.

Open source warfare is an organizational method by which a large collection of small, violent, superempowered groups can work together to take on much larger foes (usually hierarchies). It is also a method of organization that can be applied to non-violent struggles. It enables:

* High rates of innovation.
* Increased survivability among the participant groups.

* More frequent attacks and an ability to swarm targets.

Here are some suggestions (this is but one of many methods based on recent history, I’m sure that over time a better method will emerge) for building an open source insurgency:

A) The Plausible Promise.

The idea that holds the open source insurgency together. The plausible promise is composed of:

* An enemy. The enemy serves as the target of attacks. This enemy can either be either received or manufactured (any group or organization that can be depicted as a threat). The enemy can be any group that currently holds and exerts power: invader, the government, a company, an ethnic group, or a private organization.
* A goal. This objective animates the group. Because of the diversity of the groups and individuals that join together in an open source insurgency, the only goal that works is simple and extremely high level. More complex goal setting is impossible, since it will fracture/fork the insurgency.

* A demonstration. Viability. An attack that demonstrates that its possible to win against the enemy. It deflates any aura of invincibility that the enemy may currently enjoy. The demonstration serves as a rallying cry for the insurgency.

B) The Foco.

Every open source insurgency is ignited by a small founding group, a foco in guerrilla parlance. The foco sets the original goal and conducts the operation that provides the insurgency with its demonstration of viability. It’s important to understand that in order to grow an open source insurgency, the founding group or individuals must follow a simple path:

* Relinquish. Give up any control over the insurgency gained during its early phases. In practice, this means giving up control of how the goal is achieved, who may participate, how to communicate, etc. The only control that remains is the power of example and respect gained through being effective.
* Resist (temptation). Stay small. Don’t grow to a size that makes the original group easy for the enemy to target (very few new members). Further, don’t establish a formal collection of groups, a hierarchy of control, or set forth a complex agenda. This will only serve to alienate and fragment/fork the insurgency. In some cases, it will make the foco a target of the insurgency itself. It will also slow any advancement on the objective since it limits potential pathways/innovation.

* Share. Provide resources, ideas, information, knowledge, recruits, etc. with other groups and individuals that join the insurgency. Share everything possible that doesn’t directly compromise the foco’s integrity (operational security and viability). Expect sharing in return.

Electoral Politics? by Alan Keyes

Because our understanding of politics has been corrupted, we cannot discuss what threatens our political sovereignty until we free ourselves from the effects of that corruption. It’s as if we are looking at our political life through lenses or panes of glass that obscure and distort everything we see, including the nature of our own actions.

Thus, though the very possibility of electoral politics derives from moral premises that justify and require self-government, we are led to consider our political choices without regard to those moral premises, as if economic and other material consequences are the only proper subjects of political life.

Why do the American people accept this approach, when it so evidently undermines their claim to political sovereignty?

The “Science” of Politics

The great scientific and technological breakthroughs of the twentieth century contributed to the intellectual triumph of scientific materialism as the paradigm of all human knowledge and expertise. Abashed by the success of their colleagues in the physical sciences, intellectuals concerned with politics and society sought to reestablish their disciplines on what would appear to be scientific grounds.

This meant of course an attempt to understand complex human actions and activities in quantitative terms, with little respect for the moral elements of human consciousness that cannot easily be reduced to material data.

Scientific methodology requires facts — which is to say, measurable objects of study and experimentation. But how does one measure faith in God; the love of family, of justice, or of noble deeds; or the vision of compassion that seeks no gain? How does one measure boundless hate passed on through generations, or fear tasted for so long that it is like an organ in the body? Many things that play a role in human action, for better or worse, defy quantitative expression, including of course the sense of infinite worth that almost everyone instinctively attaches to their own existence.

The sense that there is at the heart of our existence an intangible, indefinable mystery of being may explain why many human beings have refused to surrender their belief in God and transcendent morality, despite pressure from the arrogant ideologues of scientific methodology. Given the proverbial pride of intellect, however, it shouldn’t be surprising that many elite intellectuals have not been among them.

Calculating Human Worth

Instead of accepting the true challenge of the human condition, these ambitious intellectuals have proselytized for the redefinition of human activities in terms that would appear to fit the paradigm of scientific methodology. Motivations, of course, cannot be easily quantified, but the behavior they produce can be tracked, categorized, sorted, counted, and compared. The meaning of right and wrong may not be scientifically provable, but opinions about it can be polled, averaged, analyzed, classified, and broken down and out.

In social science methodology, counting has taken the place of measuring, but only by discounting a difficulty that does not arise when dealing with physical things, which is the effect of abstracting from the significance of the unit of measurement — i.e., the worth and significance of the individual human being.

In the realm of mathematical science, the individual is a mere abstraction. No harm is done, it is assumed, when relationships are considered in the aggregate without regard for the worth of the ones being counted.

When applied to human things, however, this mentality denies the very insight that American principles place at the heart of right, justice, and legitimacy — which is that every individual has a worth and dignity not derived from their participation in the community or group, or their relations with other individuals, but which must be respected as a matter of principle, rather than calculation.

“Materialistic Pluralism” and Electoral Corruption

The mimicry of scientific materialism in political and social science is obviously quite compatible with materialistic pluralism as the paradigm of American political life. Indeed, the pervasive acceptance of this paradigm owes much to the apparent confirmation provided by these pseudo-sciences.

Tragically for the American republic, this approach to human affairs rejects in its very premises the understanding of human nature and action on which our free institutions depend. This is nowhere more apparent than in the degraded understanding of elections which it has imposed upon our politics.

In the material sciences, measurement produces a result that is the consequence of the presence or activity of material factors, but in no way a sign of their self-determination or responsibility. Heat of a certain intensity brings water to a boil. But it would be thoroughly unscientific to suggest that individual units of the material being heated somehow “decide” upon this outcome. The action of physical things is what it is, not what the things themselves have determined it to be.

Looked at in this way, the outcome of an election becomes a result entirely abstracted from the individual choices that have produced it. Individuals participate in the result the way agitated molecules participate in the production of heat.

Obsession with Polling

Now, part of the mind recoils from the suggestion that elections are regarded in this way. Yet consider the extent to which, in our discussions and media coverage, we treat them like horse races, or games of chance. The focus of attention is more than ever on the question of who is winning, who will win, who has won.

Talking heads rail on incessantly about who has lost or gained momentum, or who stands where in this poll or that. Indeed, it would be fair to say that the obsession with polling and poll numbers has taken the place of any real interest in the quality, thought, or characteristics of the people standing for election.

The focus is not on who they are, what they believe, or most importantly, why and how they think as they do — but rather on the reaction of the electorate to their presence, the way a chemist focuses on the reaction of a substance to the introduction of a catalytic reagent. For purposes of analysis, the chemist needs to know what the reagent is, not why it is as it is. In the testing process, the objective is to determine from its behavior the nature of the substance (in this case the electorate), not the factors that influence its nature in order to affect its behavior.

Manipulate versus Persuade

Why is this a bad way to understand political elections? Because the ultimate purpose of the election is not just to produce an outcome, but to determine the outcome one way or another. For freedom to be respected, the aim of the political process cannot be simply to determine who wins or loses. It must include an effort to persuade the voters that it is better for them and for their country that one person wins their support, rather than another.

Unless the element of persuasion is taken seriously, the political process degenerates into a competition to see who can successfully manipulate perception to drive the electorate toward an outcome that generates power for their side. When elections focus more or less exclusively on matters of perception, the perception of victory tends to drive out and dominate all the rest. Power flows toward the perception of power.

Impact over Substance

When a candidate’s views are simply catalysts for the process of analyzing and manipulating electoral reaction, their content is less important than their effect.

To achieve the maximum impact, every political statement must be limited to words and phrases calculated to achieve that effect. In this context, what makes for a strong viewpoint is not its rational basis or the facts that support it, nor the truth or decency of the principles, ideals, and values it represents. Political strength lies all in the momentary electoral impact, and not at all in the substance.

Many have assumed that the reduction of political discussion to sixty-second sound bites, or bullet point notations of support and opposition, is especially the result of media imperatives, but it is more likely that media coverage is what it is because of the influence of the pseudo-scientific paradigm of politics itself. The alliance between materialistic pseudo-science and material ambition effectively drives from politics the substance that would otherwise offer the electorate some basis for deliberate choice.

Voter Disconnect

This degraded approach to political life necessarily affects the voter’s understanding of his political actions. When politics is like a horse race, or a game of chance, casting a vote is like placing a bet.

Though the bettors pick the winner, they would not claim that their choice has determined the winner. They might consult the handicappers to know who looks like a winner. They might follow some gut instinct and bet against the odds. They might try to learn whatever they can about a competitor’s form, past performance, handlers and trainers, etc. Such information might influence their pick — but it would not give them the sense that their choice contributed to a competitor’s victory or defeat.

Bettors presume that forces beyond their control, including mere chance, are responsible for the outcome.

Politics as pastime, not opportunity for moral choice.

Understood in this way, voting and political activity may be seen as engaging pastimes, like sports competitions or a trip to Atlantic City. They cannot be regarded as serious moral responsibilities, through which the people exert their sovereign will and as a whole make the choices that determine the destiny of the nation.

The materialist paradigm of politics therefore undermines the sovereignty of the people by corrupting their understanding of the act through which above all they exercise that sovereignty. They come to believe that their role in politics is to follow the most powerful force, rather than, by their choice, to constitute the powers by which force may legitimately be exercised.

Rather than choosing their representatives, they become elements of a process that periodically alters the appearance of the forces that dominate them, and which actually exist beyond their control.

Is this liberty?

The Moral Basis for the War on Terror by Alan Keyes

Thanks to the entertainment imperative that drives media coverage of our political affairs, it would come as no surprise if Americans treated elections for political office about as seriously as voting for this week’s “American Idol” contenders.

Of course, the “American Idol” winners won’t be deciding whether to send our troops into combat, or how best to confront the persistent challenge of terrorism. They also won’t have to decide whether to put their careers on the line in order to make sure a region devastated by a hurricane gets timely and effective help coping with the disaster and its aftermath. More often than not, only the life or death of their egos is at stake when entertainers vie for prominence — not the lives of thousands, or even millions of their fellow citizens.

Trivialized Reality

Politics involves serious matters, sometimes the most serious that human beings ever confront. Yet the information that people need to make their political judgments now comes to them in a form that trivializes the electoral process and its potential consequences.

Decisions made with little regard for the consequences usually produce results inadequate to deal with them. This helps to explain why America’s present political leaders seem so unready to deal with the grave events and circumstances our nation faces. As depicted in the movies or on TV, fictional crises can have entertainment value. But when the deaths are real, and what is left behind are not empty popcorn boxes, but grieving hearts and devastated lives, they’re just no fun at all.

Real crises don’t have a two-hour time limit. Sometimes there’s no telling when we’ll be able to get back to business as usual and get on with our lives. Sometimes these crises change everything, and not for the better.

The Strength of a Free People

When America declared war on Germany and Japan in 1942, Americans had no way of knowing how long the war would last. There was no timetable for the withdrawal of our troops, no exit strategy except the incorrigible hope for victory. The Nazis had conquered most of Europe; the Japanese militarists had destroyed the mainstay of America’s defenses in the Pacific. In Great Britain, Churchill could offer the beleaguered remnants of European freedom nothing but blood, tears, toil, and sweat. America’s president could promise only the great exertions needed to focus and mobilize her vast but still unrealized war-making capacity.

The nation entered the dark nightmare of war with no light showing, except the glow of her people’s faith, and the certainty that they fought against great wickedness for a cause God would bless.

It’s easy to understand that the strength of free people during such bleak times lay in their moral fiber; in the ability to soldier on against the odds, not because they knew when the crisis would pass, but because they knew that what they did was necessary for the survival of all they believed to be decent, just, and right. It turns out that, as the word suggests, the root of morale is moral. The leadership needed to sustain the nation’s morale had to understand and articulate the moral values that lay at the heart of the conflict between freedom and Nazism, between democratic self-government and the ruthless imperialism of the Japanese military regime.

When the so-called Cold War simmered in the aftermath of World War II, American leaders had to meet the need for a similar moral understanding, one that eventually challenged domestic practices like legalized racial discrimination that contradicted the ideas of justice and individual merit we sought to defend against Communist totalitarianism.

Moral Understanding of Terrorism

As we deal with the challenge of terrorism in the world today, it’s obvious that we need the same kind of moral understanding. It’s also obvious that we have no leaders capable of articulating it, or willing to do so if they could.

Yet in principle, terrorism represents a dagger aimed at the very heart of the American idea of just government. Terrorists, whatever their ideology, religion, or motivation, seek to rule by intimidation, governing others by fear without regard for liberty. By targeting innocent lives in order to foment terror, they prove their rejection of what we regard as the fundamental principle of justice — that all are created equal, with a right to life that doesn’t depend on the goals and stratagems of others. In order to understand the true cause of our fight against terrorism, therefore, we should be asked to consider that what is at stake is the very basis of self-government and its claim of equal justice for all, in America and everywhere else.

Of course, in order to be clear about the current threat to our liberty, American leaders would have to acknowledge the principles on which our free way of life is based. They would have to clarify the contradiction between these principles and the terrorist’s disregard for the claims of innocent human life. But in the process, they would also have to highlight the conflict between those principles and our own domestic practices, just as our opposition to communist totalitarianism during the Cold War highlighted the incongruity of legalized racial discrimination in America.

Though our leaders are loath to speak of it, the supposedly legal destruction of human life in the womb, like terrorism, casts aside the claims of innocent human life. But in doing so, it exceeds the wickedness of terrorism by as much as our special obligation to our offspring exceeds our obligation for the welfare of humankind in general. Supposedly-legalized abortion also defeats the ultimate purpose of our Constitution — which commits us to secure the blessings of liberty not just for ourselves, but for our posterity as well.

The inability or unwillingness of our leadership to articulate what is truly at stake in the war brought upon us by terrorism has prevented our leaders from clarifying, or even understanding, what must be the ultimate goal of our war effort: to make clear that the renunciation of involvement in or support for terrorism in any form is the price of admission to the decent community of nations. In the absence of clarity about our true goal, our leaders have resorted to inadequate and impractical substitutes.

Lack of Moral Vision

We get arguments that implausibly assume that we can, in what amounts to an historical minute, establish democratic practices in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan that have no culture of democratic self-government — or other arguments that assume that we can wish away the threat to our way of life by establishing “exit strategies” and timetables for troop withdrawals from Iraq. (This latter despite the fact that the conflict began on the fateful day that revealed our foes’ determination and capacity to come to America to kill us.)

Though bad leadership, bad politics, and the media’s appetite for battle scenes give the impression that we are engaged in a “war in Iraq,” the fight against terrorism is more broadly focused on the Middle East because that region has been dominated by regimes that reject the foundational premise of democratic self-government in America — i.e., that God created man for liberty, not fanatical subservience. Feeling the absence of moral vision, some of our leaders have tried to focus on Islamic extremism as the wickedness against which we can galvanize our moral will. But we do not fight terrorism because it is Islamic. We fight Islamic extremists because they routinely practice terrorism.

Our fight is not about religious differences. It is a conflict of conscience between people of goodwill who, whatever their religion, believe that each human life has an equal and intrinsic moral worth determined by the Creator God, and people of evil intent who believe that their grievance, cause, or faith justifies methodical and systematic murder on whatever scale they choose.

This difference of conscience translates into differences in other areas, beginning with the conduct of war. Decent folks accept the idea that, in war, rules must be observed to prevent wanton killing. The others practice wanton killing so that fear dictates the rules. People who believe in the equal and intrinsic worth of each human life also reject the routine practice of torture, whether in making war or in law enforcement. And once they think it through, they realize that the equal and intrinsic worth of each human life requires governmental and political practices that respect the integrity of each human person, so that no one has the claim to own or govern another without their consent. This understanding is what connects the war against terror with the long-term effort to encourage democratic self-government.

Pursuing Peace

If our leaders had properly articulated this connection in principle, we would realize that the challenge in Iraq and elsewhere is not to establish the outward show of self-government in the short term, but to work with and encourage those who are committed in principle to the understanding of equal moral dignity that is the root of its long-term growth and development.

With this in mind, there’s one thing we could be sure of: no one connected with terrorism or tyranny (e.g., Saddam Hussein’s government) can be an ally in our cause, or in the cause of peace and liberty in the world at large. This would apply as much to the terrorists who ply their wickedness in the name of the Palestinian people as it does to the Al-Qaeda types who murder in the name of Allah.

The governments, movements, and groups that we can validly deal and work with would have to be “de-terrorized,” much as the parties and groups we worked with in West Germany after WWII had to be “de-Nazified” in order to be acceptable. Moreover, instead of cooperating in diplomatic efforts that claim the goal of peace without respecting its main prerequisite, we would insist on respect for the principle of equal and intrinsic moral worth as the first basis for mutual respect among human beings, regardless of their differences, and therefore the first step toward establishing real peace among them.

This would lead to some simple and straightforward policy goals. Oppose terror. Oppose torture and tyranny. Oppose all forms of political as well as economic enslavement. Encourage respect for innocent life. Encourage legal protections against torture and abuse. Encourage the institutions of self-government that provide the only reliable safeguard against political and economic enslavement. These goals are purposely stated in terms of stances and attitudes that we can take, not outcomes that we can impose.

One of the challenges of encouraging liberty in the world is to respect the fact that we can’t make it happen for other peoples, and shouldn’t try. By keeping this in mind, we would avoid the kind of implausible rhetoric that has too often characterized the present Bush Administration’s statements about our goals and purposes in Iraq.

Since we have drawn the sword, our primary purpose ought to be to strike hard at the enemy, which in the aftermath of 9/11 means those who practice or abet terrorism. It’s debatable whether our blow against Saddam Hussein effectively aimed at them, but there is surely no dispute that this is the proper aim of military action. Those who help us to achieve it, in Iraq and elsewhere, in effect demonstrate their opposition to terrorism, and help us to promote the alternative of respect for human moral worth.

But the aim of war is first to damage and defeat the foe. If in the process we help the Iraqis to take some steps toward a permanent regime of liberty, that will be a good thing. But it should not be our measure for the success or failure of our efforts.

Keeping Terrorists at Bay

When dealing with terrorists, the first achievement is to force them to make war instead of practicing terror; to prevent them from using their hard violence against soft targets in our country. In Iraq and Afghanistan, we have achieved this. We have forced war upon them, compelling them to fight our armed forces in a theatre well away from the innocent unarmed American civilians they would prefer as targets. In this case, it’s surely true that the best defense lies in staying on the offensive. (This is something most leaders among the Democrats prefer to ignore. I guess they would rather score political points at home than keep terrorists at bay abroad. Of course, these leaders will win no political support from careful American voters once they realize that when Democrats say they will bring the troops home, what they are really saying is that they will bring the war home. I can see why our enemies would prefer this, but not why any sensible American would agree with them. Better that our armed forces fight terrorists in Baghdad than that our civilians die at the hands of terrorists in Dallas or L.A.)

Now it may be hard for Americans to accept the notion that their safety depends on accepting a certain level of commitment of armed force abroad in order to live safely here at home. But as long as some forces in this world are organized with terror against us in mind, it may be a fact of life. We must continually disrupt their activities and their intentions before they have a chance to form and implement their deadly schemes against us.

This means, of course, that despite all the talk about a “new world order,” and 21st century globalization, we may be faced with an age-old state of affairs, one that requires that a people continually practice and maintain its endurance for conflict in order to preserve the zone of safety in which they can live in peace.

For people encouraged to think of themselves as consumers and couch potatoes, this may be a daunting prospect. But we should remember that this image of Americans is for entertainment purposes only. It doesn’t reflect the qualities of the people who have shaped this country’s strength and success. We are more than equal to the challenges of this threatening era, but only if our moral vision shapes our understanding not only of the threat, but of the kind of citizens we can once again become in light of it.

My Take on Leander’s Piece AKA Apple Is Evil by Hadley Stern

My reaction isn’t as angry as Jon Gruber’s over at Daring Fireball. However, when you put aside that anger one can’t help but agree with Jon’s assessment of Leander Kahney’s piece in Wired, “How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong.” Leander’s article is a curious one for him, because he is usually so spot on when it comes to Apple. But this article is just….odd, especially as the cover piece of Wired.

Google Isn’t Nice

In Leander’s piece Google comes across as this kind of lah-lah place where no one does any evil (their corporate moniker, after all, is Do No Evil, so that must be so, right?!) Wrong. Google, like Apple is a business, not a philanthropy. Not that they are evil, they aren’t, but neither is Apple for taking a different approach to product development.

In Leander’s world secrecy is somehow a bad thing. But almost every business requires some level of confidentiality in order to function. Is Wired transparent about its business plans? About what features and products it plans to release? Of course not. Indeed the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is defacto standard for any conversation in the corporate world. The reason is is because there is business value in the ideas a company has. There is for Apple, and there is for Google. This is not evil.

Think Secret Wasn’t Just a Fan Site

Leander also paints a picture of Nick Cearlo of Think Secret as victim of Apple evil empire. Not so. Sure Nick may have started out the site as a hobby but it soon grew into a serious business. Anyone with even a basic understand of online advertising knows that given his site’s popularity this wasn’t just a hobby site. He was making some serious money. And he was making it by republishing confidential secrets broken by people who had probably signed NDAs. Notice that Apple has not gone after Jon Gruber or myself. This isn’t because Apple likes the blogosphere, they very may well not. But Jon and I aren’t revealing trade secrets. We are not profiting from people breaking the rules. Nick could have chosen to express his interest in Apple in a way that didn’t breach confidentiality contracts. He chose otherwise. This doesn’t make Apple evil. Yes, we may disagree with the company, but still going after Think Secret was well within it’s rights.

One of Apple competitive advantages comes from its ability to surprise and delight the marketplace. It is a key business advantage (and not only because of all the press it gets) and Apple must fight to preserve it.

As for Leander’s issues with the cliche of Steve Jobs the micromanager, again, this is not evil. Apple is not some sort of prison-camp where people have to work. I know people who work at Apple, and they are energized and excited by what they do. I’m certain there are people who hate working their too, just like any other company. But something tells me that the teams who worked on the iPod, iPhone, and the Mac are pretty darn proud of what they did.

Probably the most unfortunate thing about Leander’s piece is that is, at best, a superficial look at Apple. A cover piece of Wired is such an opportunity. And a piece that panders to cliché’s about the firm is an unfortunate waste of such exposure.

Jihad, Islamism, and Non-Interventionism by Jeffrey Imm

As seen in two recent books by counterterrorism analysts, the ideology of Non-Interventionism is gaining popularity with a segment of the American public. While Non-Interventionist ideology plays off the frustrations of some of the American public with America’s handling of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the wrong answer to the confusion over global Jihad and Islamism. Two recently-released books by counterterrorism analysts offer a panacea of Non-Interventionism ideology: Michael Scheuer’s “Marching Toward Hell – America and Islam After Iraq”, and Marc Sageman’s “Leaderless Jihad”. The Non-Interventionist ideology represented by these authors does not critically examine the role of political Islamism in Islamist terrorism; therefore the authors conclude that an appeasement approach towards Islamism will improve American national security.

In Michael Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he argues that Islamist terrorism is a mere reaction to American foreign policy, and he calls for a vehemently “non-interventionist… non-ideological” approach to Islamist terrorism in the world (p. 263). Mr. Scheuer fails to even acknowledge Islamism as an ideological challenge or threat (or even acknowledge a defined American enemy), arguing basically that Americans should do what Bin Laden tells us to do (pp. 149-150, 154-155), and withdraw our military forces from the Middle East (pp. 149, 232). Mr. Scheuer focuses his Non-Interventionist philosophy on trying to persuade Americans to abandon foreign allies, especially (but not only) Israel (pp. 148-150, 184-185, 217), and to abandon military activities in the Middle East (pp. 149, 232). Mr. Scheuer also throws a red-herring in his book to allow a superficial claim that he is not “totally” Non-Interventionist, by the offering of a scorched earth approach of “savagery” (p. 85-87, 196, 247) as an alternative to his Non-Interventionism ideology (against an enemy he won’t define). However, it is clear that Mr. Scheuer’s argument is focused specifically on persuading Americans to adopt a Non-Interventionist policy (p. 184-185, 263), which he also calls for in his various Internet postings on the web site AntiWar.com.

In Marc Sageman’s book “Leaderless Jihad”, he argues that “global Islamist terrorism” (p.37) is really now more of a “social movement” (pp. 46, 66-70), rather than the actions of Islamist ideologues to further an ideological cause, and that when the “thrill” (p. 35) of such terrorism passes, the Jihadist threat will too. While Mr. Sageman’s book is not as non-interventionist as Mr. Scheuer’s, Mr. Sageman sees the “use of military as a last resort” only (pp. 152-153), but the basic message is the same as Mr. Scheuer’s – America should mostly mind its own business when it comes to Islamism, for fear of providing fuel to the argument that America is at war with Islam itself (Scheuer pp. 155-157, Sageman pp. 98, 149). Mr. Sageman uses the term “Islamist” (p. 37) without actually defining political Islamism as an ideology or ideologies, and while his book provides a few paragraphs to address the Muslim Brotherhood ideologues and to address takfiri (pp. 37-39), he concludes that we should not “make too much” out of Islamist ideologies as in Mr. Sageman’s view “terrorists rarely execute their operations as a direct result of their doctrines” (p.40). In Mr. Sageman’s view, Al Qaeda is merely a “social movement” (p. 31, 33, 40).

In their Non-Interventionist arguments, neither Mr. Scheuer or Mr. Sageman draw a clear distinction between political Islamism and Islam; they simply conflate political Islamism and Islam to be the same thing. Therefore, they call for appeasing Islamism as an argument to avoid a war with Islam.

Both Non-Interventionist arguments address public concerns that are the result of failing to identify the enemy and to develop a comprehensive war strategy. As an alternative, Mr. Scheuer and Mr. Sagemen recommend “solutions” for American policy that would result in graver, more serious errors by ignoring the ideology of Islamism and by refusing to acknowledge that the threat of Islamist terrorism will continue, regardless of American foreign policy.

The Non-Interventionists fail to understand that two wrongs don’t make a right.

1. America’s Confusion over Jihad and Islamism Provides Fuel for Non-Interventionism

One of the great challenges in addressing the Jihadist threat is the ineffectively explained rationale to the American public as to “Why We Fight”. Without an official government definition of specific enemies and a strategy to defeat them, individual efforts to define the threats of Jihad and Islamism provide only an educational band-aid, easily forgotten by the public in the endless barrage of news stories on the limited effectiveness of American operational tactics in military theaters. The September 18, 2001 Authorization for Military Force only referenced a reactive military action against those undefined groups responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

The failure to provide a detailed definition of the enemy and a strategy to defeat the enemy, combined with uneven operational tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan, has led to a large portion of public calling for change in what it views as an endless reactive quagmire of foreign fighting. With the nation feeling secure from Jihadist terror attacks for over six years, the starkness of the 9/11 attacks has faded, and the lack of effective leadership on larger strategic issues has allowed such extremist positions as Non-Interventionism to be taken seriously by a frustrated public.

Furthermore, the role of Islamism as the root of Islamist terrorism is only addressed once in the 9/11 Commission report. The larger challenge of Islamism has not been addressed by American political leadership in a meaningful way, nor has it been widely recognized that Islamism itself, as an anti-freedom ideology, is a threat to democratic nations.

In the face of the continuing threats of global Islamist terrorism and the challenge of Islamism, the ideology of “Non-Interventionism” is offered by its adherents as a panacea that will provide peace in our time. Instead of defining the enemy and developing a strategy to combat them, Non-Interventionists seek to get Americans to abandon our values, turn on our allies, pretend that the enemy will leave us alone if we merely change our foreign policy, ignore the interconnected nature of modern globalism, and ignore what the enemies of freedom seek to achieve in the world.

2. Defining the Enemy as Fundamental to Addressing the Threat

2.1. The “America First” Denial of a Threat and Identifying a Scapegoat

Non-Interventionists have over time used a propaganda technique that involves dual tactics of denying that America is facing any type of global enemy and identifying a foreign scapegoat to blame for the concerns about any such enemy threats.

Prior to World War II, Charles Lindbergh used such tactics with his Non-Interventionist “America First Committee” organization to convince Americans that there was no threat from Nazi Germany and its fascist allies. On September 11, 1939, Charles Lindbergh sought to convince Americans that there was no fascist global threat that would impact America, stating that in the “European war”, “there has been an over-increasing effort to force the United States into the conflict….” which “has been carried on by foreign interests” and the “groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration”. In this same September 11, 1939 speech, Charles Lindbergh’s scapegoating also included blaming America’s concern regarding the war against Nazism on Jewish “ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government”.

In our current times, Mr. Scheuer and Mr. Sageman deny the existence of an enemy threat from Islamist terrorism or from Islamist ideology. While Chapter 5 of Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell” is titled “And the Islamists’ Fire Quietly Spreads”, Mr. Scheuer does not define Islamism as an ideology or as an ideological threat, but rather mocks the “wild-eyed bogeyman of the imminent success of the Islamists’ plan to establish a worldwide Islamic Caliphate” (p. 148) and mocks the “Cold Warriors” “term of choice-Islamofascist” (pp. 148-149). Mr. Sageman similarly questions the idea of any meaningful shared Islamist ideology (p. 40), and specifically warns against finding such an ideology, stating “[a] counterterrorism focus on Islamic ideology is dangerous” (p. 157).

Today’s Non-Interventionists have also found a convenient scapegoat in Israel to misdirect Americans from the real threat. In Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he picks up the “America First” mantle of Charles Lindbergh, ranting about “Israel-firsters”, criticizing a so-called “neoconservative” plot that is a “blood-soaked, imperialist, win-one-for-Israel campaign in the Middle East”… by a “pro-Israel, U.S. governing elite” (Chapter 5, pp 148-149, 154). Per Mr. Scheuer, “U.S. support for Israel is costing blood and treasure” and “is a severe handicap for U.S. national security” (p. 217). On the Bill Maher television show, Mr. Scheuer has stated that regarding Israel, “I just don’t think that it is worth an American life or an American dollar”. In his February 27, 2008 Antiwar.com blog posting, Mr. Scheuer states that “pro-Israel American campaign funders will demand McCain, Obama, or Clinton defend the Jewish state by staying in Iraq no matter the cost; and each will do so because each operates under the delusion that U.S. and Israeli national-security interests are identical.” Mr. Scheuer is convinced of numerous Israeli “clandestine” and “covert” activities within the United States which drives America to war, and claims the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as among such Israeli “clandestine” activities.

While less colorful in his comments, in Mr. Sageman’s book “Leaderless Jihad”, he condemns America for its “sense of moral outrage” (pp. 154-156) against Islamists, and points to America’s support of Israel as a “sore that continues to fester”, and that “the U.S. government is seen as siding too closely with Israel, and complicit in Israeli operations against the Palestinians” (p. 155). Mr. Sageman also condemns “the Islamophobic press” for reporting when an “imam express[es] sympathy for terrorist aims” (p. 161).

This scapegoating technique by Non-Interventionists is a well-known approach in using misdirection to prevent discussion of an enemy ideology or ideologies. Non-Interventionists require both denial and scapegoating techniques, because the Non-Interventionist ideology is only plausible to the American public when global enemies can be denied and the known information about such enemies blamed on some nefarious scapegoat out to mislead them.

2.2. Relationship between Non-Interventionists and the Enemy

Such efforts at Non-Interventionism in modern America have frequently been supported by anti-freedom organizations with interests hostile to the United States.

In 1938, Nazi Germany awarded Non-Interventionist Charles Lindbergh (along with Henry Ford) the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal awarded by Nazi Germany to foreigners. Charles Lindbergh refused to return the Nazi medal to Germany as he stated that it would be “an unnecessary insult” to the German Nazi government. Moreover, Charles Lindbergh wrote Nazi Hermann Goring to thank him for the medal, asking Goring to convey his thanks to Adolf Hitler. Charles Lindbergh met with Nazi German air minister individuals, and was used to convey propaganda on the invincibility of Hitler’s air strength; non-interventionist Lindbergh helped to convince the British government to appease Hitler.

In 2007, Islamist Osama Bin Laden praised Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer for his writings that call for Non-Interventionism against Islamism and changing American foreign policy to address Osama Bin Laden’s goals. In his September 7, 2007 message promoting global Islamism, Osama Bin Laden stated: “And if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing of your war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard.” Mr. Scheuer is also enthusiastic in his praise of Islamist Osama Bin Laden as well. In Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he lauds Osama Bin Laden’s “piety” (p. 165), and refers to Osama Bin Laden as a “political genius” (p. 154), and an “ever-reliable guide” (p. 118).

In the same September 7, 2007 Bin Laden message, Islamist Osama Bin Laden condemns democracy and offers Islamism as an alternative to Americans: “as soon as the warmongering owners of the major corporations realize that you have lost confidence in your democratic system and begun (sic) to search for an alternative, and that this alternative is Islam”. In Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he similarly mocks offering democracy to Muslims as nothing more than a pointless effort “so Mrs. Muhammad can vote, vamp, and abort” (p. 254). Non-Interventionist Scheuer sees Islamist Bin Laden as “urging Muslims to liberate themselves from tyranny in order to attain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in terms that are compatible with their Islamic faith” (p. 164).

Like Charles Lindbergh before him, Mr. Scheuer seeks to convey his enemy-approved Non-Interventionist propaganda via world television, global Internet, and his books. Mr. Scheuer is a professor at Georgetown University, a news analyst for CBS News, and frequently appears on American national news programs as a commentator on counterterrorism subjects. Mr. Scheuer has recently appeared in Newsweek magazine in a uncritical interview, has appeared recently as a writer in the Washington Post, and has a series of Internet columns for websites such as Antiwar.com and LewRockwell.com.

In comparing Michael Scheuer’s Non-Interventionism versus Charles Lindbergh’s Non-Interventionism, it is slightly unfair to Charles Lindbergh, as Lindbergh did not publicly advocate such Non-Interventionism after the nation was at war, let alone after the United States homeland was actually attacked (as Mr. Scheuer has done).

2.3. Definitions of Islamist Terrorism, Islamism, and the Non-Response by Non-Interventionists

Released in 2004, the 9/11 Commission Report provides a U.S. government official definition of “Islamist Terrorism” in the Report’s Notes, Part 12, Note 3, page 562. The 9/11 Commission report states: “Islamist terrorism is an immediate derivative of Islamism. This term distinguishes itself from Islamic by the fact that the latter refers to a religion and culture”. In addition, the 9/11 Commission report states that “Islamism is defined as ‘an Islamic militant, anti-democratic movement, bearing a holistic vision of Islam whose final aim is the restoration of the caliphate.’ ” This U.S. government commission document provides a specific link between “Islamist Terrorism” and “Islamism” that America’s political leadership has since failed to further define, clarify, and develop a strategy to counter.

Non-Interventionists leverage the failure of American political leadership to follow up on the 9/11 Commission Report by misdirecting the public to focus only on American foreign policy issues, and avoiding discussion on Islamism as an ideology. It is not in the interests of Non-Interventionists to allow identification of an enemy ideology, because that would undermine their Non-Interventionist argument.

In the case of Mr. Scheuer, his Non-Interventionist argument is really to define Osama Bin Laden’s enemies (in terms of American foreign policy) and so he avoids defining an American enemy. Mr. Scheuer is focused on trying to convince Americans that they need to be focused in distancing themselves from Bin Laden’s other enemies (such as Israel) (pp. 250, 261). Mr. Scheuer states that “the United States is not the main enemy of bin Laden and other Islamists”, and the Islamists’ “primary enemy” is “the Muslim tyrannies that rule much of the Islamic world and Israel” (pp. 250, 261). So with Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist, foreign policy-based argument that Americans only need to care about Bin Laden’s “primary” enemies, it is too much of an inconvenient truth for Mr. Scheuer to address the actual ideology of Islamism and its links to Islamist terrorism.

Mr. Sageman’s Non-Interventionist argument claims that since Islamist terrorism is based on “social movement” activities, the ideology behind such Islamist acts is not important (pp. 31, 33, 40).

However, the Non-Interventionist arguments and the failure of American political leadership to fully address Islamism do not negate the very real existence of both Islamism and Islamist terrorism, as well as the links between the two. Non-Interventionist arguments don’t even take into consideration the concerns of Muslims that reject Sharia, or that Muslims could accept anything other than Islamism. As previously pointed out, Non-Interventionist Scheuer argues that Islamist Bin Laden offers “liberty…in terms that are compatible with their Islamic faith” (p. 164).

In October 2007, Wikipedia provided a concise definition for “Islamism” as “a term usually used to denote a set of political ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system and its teachings should be preeminent in all facets of society. It holds that Muslims must return to the original teachings and the early models of Islam, particularly by making Islamic law (sharia) the basis for all statutory law of society and by uniting politically, eventually in one state; and that western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influence in the Muslim world is un-Islamic and should be replaced by purely Islamic influences.”

It is important to note that, contrary to popular confusion (included in that definition), Sharia is not the definition for “Islamic law”, as it is not “Islamic law” for many Muslims. To many Muslims, Sharia is not “Islamic law” at all. There are many Muslims who oppose and do not recognize Sharia. In a recent article, Alex Alexiev, Vice President of Research at the Center for Security Policy, points out that Sharia law is not “Islamic law”, except as interpreted by Islamists. Alex Alexiev states “shariah is mostly a post-Quranic, man-made medieval doctrine that is almost completely at odds with modern norms of human rights, political freedoms and international relations… and [s]hariah doctrine, though claiming to be derived from the Quran, is thus a politicized interpretation of the Muslim scriptures and other non-revealed sources” [Alexiev article, page 3]. Alex Alexiev further points out that “the word shariah is mentioned only once in the Quran, and not at all as a system of jurisprudence, but in its traditional meaning of the ‘right path’” [Alexiev article, page 3]. Moreover, Muslim groups such as “Muslims Against Sharia” are advocates against such Islamist Sharia practices.

Islamism’s anti-freedom ideology is a continuing threat to Muslims, as demonstrated by the numerous blasphemy laws, and abuses seen in Islamist law and government. The ongoing fighting by Islamists in Iraq underscores how Islamist terrorists have total disregard for the lives and welfare of other Muslims.

In summary, Islamism is a political ideology based on a politicized, theocratic version of Islam, with Sharia law as the basis for all aspects of life, government, and society. It is an “anti-democratic” movement, and it is another of the anti-freedom ideologies that Western society has found itself facing in the past century. Rather than a “nationalist” movement, Islamism seeks the “restoration of the caliphate”, and Islamism is an internationalist political ideology. Islamism has numerous branches, as Islam itself has numerous branches; there are branches of Islamist political ideology including groups based on Wahhabism and Salafism (Sunni), Deobandism (Sunni), Muslim Brotherhood philosophies (Sunni), and Khumeinism (Shiite).

There have been some outstanding spokesmen who have made the effort to identify the problem and challenges raised by the Islamist ideology. One of these is Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the founder and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Per Dr. Jasser, “This tactic of terror we are fighting will continue to exponentially regenerate itself as long as its fuel remains. The fuel is political Islam – Islamism. Islamism is effectively incubated in a culture like ours in the United States which stubbornly (to our own detriment) refuses to engage political Islam because of its invocation of a faith. The American people need leadership that not only understands the need to bring freedom and liberty to the world, but leadership ready to confront our Islamist enemies with the pathologies of their own ideas – leadership which can separate personal spiritual Islam from political Islam and genuinely engage liberty-minded anti-Islamist Muslims.” Non-Interventionists have no intention of listening to the words of anti-Islamist Muslims such as Dr. Jasser. Non-Interventionists like Mr. Scheuer would prefer that Americans accept the Islamist propaganda message of Islamist Osama Bin Laden instead.

However, America is faced with twin challenges on this issue: (1) the unwillingness of American leadership to face up to the global issue of Islamism, and (2) the Non-Interventionist propaganda movement led by Mr. Scheuer and others. The strategic challenge for America remains addressing the impact of political Islamism — as an overall ideology — on Islamist terrorism (Jihad) and on our national security. Political Islamists and Islamist terrorist Osama Bin Laden share the same ultimate goal, as stated by Osama Bin Laden on October 22, 2007: “The greater state of Islam from the ocean to the ocean, Allah permitting.”

Regarding Islamist terrorism, America’s greatest problem has been an inability to see the forest through the trees – due to an endless monofocus on tactics, operations, groups, individuals — without clearly acknowledging the identity and ideology of our enemy and developing a coherent strategy to defeat them. It is this flurry of confusion in the weeds that is leveraged by the Non-Interventionist appeasement argument. And in doing so, the Non-Interventionists have to convince America that it has no global enemy, despite the reality of the 9/11 attacks that we saw with our own eyes.

2.4. Non-Interventionist Logical Contortions to Avoid Naming an Enemy

Non-Interventionists approach the issue of national defense with a fixed agenda – denying that there is a need for America to have global military or strategic involvement in fighting an enemy. From that fixed position, Non-Interventionists will engage in logical contortions to avoid naming an enemy. So embarrassing contradictions will likely occur in their arguments, but these are readily brushed aside by the Non-Interventionists in the greater cause of avoiding conflict with an enemy.

In Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he refers to Islamists, but won’t define the Islamist ideology. Mr. Scheuer mocks the idea of an Islamist caliphate as a threat, even though Steven Emerson has pointed out that in a previous book “Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror”, that Mr. Scheuer references such Islamist goals for a caliphate as being “found in the annals of Islamic history” (Imperial Hubris, pp. 141-142). In that same book, Mr. Scheuer inadvertently identified an American enemy as “some of Islam” (Imperial Hubris, p. 249). But Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist arguments were intended to ignore such missteps in writing. As his “political genius” Osama Bin Laden has recommended, Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist point and ideology is clearly to avoid recognizing an enemy and threat to America other than American foreign policy actions that may offend Osama Bin Laden and Islamists (Marching Through Hell pp. 148-150).

Similarly, Mr. Sageman’s book “Leaderless Jihad” recognizes the existence of Islamist ideologies (pp. 37-39), only to tell us to not “make too much” out of these as they do not really affect Islamist terrorists actions (p. 40), and to warn us that “[a] counterterrorism focus on Islamic ideology is dangerous” (p. 157).

To avoid close scrutiny on why such Islamist ideologies should be a concern to America, the Non-Interventionists have a ready argument that all of the problems with Islamism are due to one singular problem: American foreign policy.

3. Non-Interventionism: U.S. Foreign Policy to Blame for Islamist Terrorism

3.1. Occidentalism and Non-Interventionists – Islamist Terrorism as a Reaction to U.S. Foreign Policy

In his book “Marching Toward Hell”, Mr. Scheuer mocks those concerned about Islamism as “Cold Warriors” (p. 148), while adopting a Cold War mentality towards Islamism himself. In Mr. Scheuer’s efforts to promote Non-Interventionism, his argument is that Islamist terrorism is exclusively a reaction to U.S. foreign policy. Since logical contortion is inconsequential to the larger Non-Interventionist cause of preventing America from recognizing an enemy, Mr. Scheuer does not care that such reactive thinking is indeed a Cold War mentality itself. Contradictions don’t matter to the Non-Interventionist ideologue.

The term “occidentalism” is defined as “usually refer[ring] to stereotyped and sometimes dehumanizing views on the so-called Western world, including Europe, the United States, and Australia.” In the case of the Non-Interventionist arguments, occidentalism refers to the views that western ideas such as western democracy, pluralism, and secularism are somehow destructive forces in the larger world, as viewed by non-western eyes.

So to understand Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist views on American foreign policy, Mr. Scheuer’s occidentalist views on democracy, secularism, and pluralism must also be understood. Non-Interventionist Mr. Scheuer echoes Islamist Osama Bin Laden in regards to his contempt for democracy. As previously stated, in Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he mocks offering democracy to Muslims as nothing more than a pointless effort “so Mrs. Muhammad can vote, vamp, and abort” (p. 254), and sees Islamist Bin Laden as “urging Muslims to liberate themselves from tyranny in order to attain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in terms that are compatible with their Islamic faith” (p. 164). In addition, Mr. Scheuer decries the value of secularism as well, stating “in the Muslim world” (p. 139) that Muslims “regard secularism as inherently inferior to their way of life and an affront to their faith, indeed, as fighting words”. (Mr. Scheuer sees no “hubris” himself in his speaking on behalf of “the Muslim world” or for all Muslims on this.) Moreover, Mr. Scheuer states that “[o]nly among the U.S. governing elite is multiculturalism an attainable goal” (p. 140).

With this occidentalist viewpoint, Mr. Scheuer provides a detailed argument that Islamist terrorism is the result of American foreign policy. In “Marching Toward Hell”, Mr. Scheuer calls attention to six areas of “indictments” by Islamists regarding America’s foreign policy (p. 149-150) that he insists on Americans keep “squarely in view”:

“1. The U.S. military and civilian presence in the Arab Peninsula”
“2. Unqualified U.S. support for Israel”

“3. U.S. support for states oppressing Muslims, especially China, India, and Russia”

“4. U.S. exploitation of Muslim oil and suppression of its price”

“5. U.S. military presence in the Islamic world – Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.”

“6. U.S. support, protection, and funding of Arab police states”.

The basic thesis of Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist argument is that if America surrenders to Osama Bin Laden’s demands on these “indictments”, it will be spared from further Islamist terrorism. With such an argument, it is imperative for Mr. Scheuer to first completely deny the existence of any Islamist ideology or objectives, outside of a reaction to U.S. foreign policy, because the obvious question would be asked – what if the U.S. agreed to act on such “indictments”, and Islamist terrorism continued and/or increased? Such occidentalist, Cold War thinking by Mr. Scheuer is essential to make such his Non-Interventionist argument sound plausible.

(I address each of these “indictments” in part 3.4.)

Mr. Sageman’s book “Leaderless Jihad” makes a similar, although far less sweeping Non-Interventionist argument, that Islamist terrorism is the reaction of U.S. foreign policy, by ignoring the impact of Islamism on actual terrorist actions (p. 40), demanding that Americans lose their “sense of moral outrage” against Islamist actions, and insisting on “[w]ithdrawl from Iraq is a necessary condition for diminishing the sense of moral outrage that Muslims feel” (pp. 154-155).

3.2. The Kernel of Truth in the Non-Interventionist Big Lie

American political leadership must never forget the following axiom: “It is never too late to do the right thing.” Doing the right thing may be expensive, it may be difficult, it may even be embarrassing, but it still is always the right thing.

The Non-Interventionist argument is totally dependent on the unwillingness and lack of courage of America political leadership to do the right thing when it comes to Islamist terrorism and Islamism.

After the September 18, 2001 Authorization for Military Force and the initial military raids on Taliban and Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, the next immediate act of American political leadership should have been to unequivocally identify and define the enemy and its ideology, to further investigate the links between Islamism and Islamist terrorism (per the 9/11 Commission Report), and to develop a comprehensive global blueprint strategy on addressing both Islamist terrorism and Islamism. In recognizing that it was facing a global conflict against this global enemy, all U.S. military, law enforcement, financial, diplomatic, energy resource planning, and communications would be based on such a blueprint strategy to defeat the enemy. Any other military operations, in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, would have to be evaluated and reviewed based on this blueprint strategy to determine if this was the most effective and appropriate use of resources to fight the defined global enemy behind Islamist terrorism.

It is never too late to do the right thing.

The kernel of truth that the Non-Interventionist big lie is dependent on – is the fact that American political leadership has not taken such a blueprint strategy approach to Islamist terrorism and Islamism, but has instead had a series of reactive-only, sometimes contradictory, actions in both military operations and foreign policy. Some of these reactive, operations-centric actions have confused both the American public and our allies. Some of these have created unnecessary foreign hostility. Most damaging of all, without a clearly defined enemy and a strategy towards that enemy, a reactive military and foreign policy approach can, at times, be inexplicable in terms of justification — because by definition – it is reactive, not strategically based.

In Afghanistan, as I have previously addressed, we have had one side of the American government launching military attacks on the Taliban enemy, while we have another side of the same government stating that efforts to mainstream the Taliban into Afghanistan politics would be desirable. We can’t effectively fight an enemy without defining the enemy, defining the enemy’s ideology, and developing a coherent strategy to defeat the enemy. An operational tactic that views the anti-freedom ideology of Islamism as compatible with democracy simply does not understand either ideology. There is no question that there are plenty of embarrassing tactical and operational activities in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world that provide fodder for the Non-Interventionist ideology.

But it is never too late to do the right thing, and disprove the big lie that the Non-Interventionist ideology is dependent on.

3.3. Churchill’s Lessons on Honor in Foreign Policy

The Non-Interventionist argument sums up to a craven “since we can’t figure out how to define and fight Islamist terrorism, lets withdraw from the world and make certain we don’t do anything to further offend Islamists, and pray they will leave us alone.” When facing an unknown Nazi Germany, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had the same idea and concerns in his day. As Neville Chamberlain wrote on September 27, 1938, “How horrible, fantastic, incredible, it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing!” (The Gathering Storm, p. 282).

By being so paralyzed with fear to determine what the right thing was to do, the British government went down a path of appeasement towards Nazi Germany, seeking “peace in our time”. As previously mentioned, the British government was in part persuaded by the Non-Interventionist Charles Lindbergh, who attested to false propaganda as to the invincibility of the Nazi air force, convincing the British government that appeasement was necessary, at a minimum to stall for time (The American Axis, pp. 173-176). But even after the disastrous appeasement of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister, and proved that it is indeed never to late to do the right thing.

In a twisted moment of irony, Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer attempts to hijack the words of Winston Churchill to augment his argument for appeasement towards Islamist terrorism, quoting Churchill in September 1936 that “we have a great treasure to guard; that the inheritance in our possession represents the prolonged achievement of the centuries” (p. 270). Based on this, Mr. Scheuer makes his occidentalist argument that this proves how “American democracy and republicanism are unique and largely nonexportable”, why American should take a Non-Interventionist position towards Islamism and Islamist terrorism, and why it should abandon its allies faced with this threat around the world.

In fact, Mr. Scheuer ignores that Winston Churchill actually addressed the challenge that Neville Chamberlain faced between appeasement and confrontation, war and peace, in dealing with the unknowns of such circumstances, and provided a guiding basis for future generations to consider when faced with these challenges.

In his 1948 book “The Gathering Storm” (pp. 286-287), Winston Churchill stated: “[t]here is, however, one helpful guide, namely, for a nation to keep its word and to act in accordance with its treaty obligations to allies. This guide is called honour.” Churchill goes on to state that “the moment came when Honour pointed the path of Duty, and when also the right judgment of the facts at that time would have reinforced its dictates.”

The Non-Interventionists would have Americans ignore the plain facts presented to us when our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001, and would instead try to convince Americans to believe in a Non-Interventionist policy of ignoring enemy anti-freedom ideologies that was craven even on September 11, 1939, when Non-Interventionist Charles Lindbergh tried to sell it. As Neville Chamberlain was paralyzed with fear in the face of what Non-Interventionists claimed was invincible Nazi military power, so Non-Interventionists would have us believe in 2008 that America should retreat in the face of invincible Islamist power.

Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer writes that “[t]he geographical dispersal of our Islamist enemies also poses a daunting and nearly insurmountable obstacle to a U.S. victory”, that “America could not field the number of military personnel needed to fight an offensive war in every place in the world troubled by Islamist fighters”, that “the Muslim world outnumbers America by nearly five to one”, and that “the American governing elite have bitten off far more than the country can chew” (p. 190). In fact, Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist argument keeps inconveniently slipping in the word “enemy” in his writing, when in other paragraphs he keeps insisting that there is no enemy for America to fight.

In the end, a critical examination of Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist argument shows that is reduced to nothing more than a craven appeal for surrender. But Mr. Scheuer does not merely seek America alone to surrender to Islamism and Islamist terrorism. Mr. Scheuer also seeks to get America to abandon its honor, and to abandon its allies around the world to Islamism and Islamist terrorism. Like Charles Lindbergh’s well-earned Nazi medal, it is no wonder why Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist propaganda has gained the praise of Islamist Osama Bin Laden.

3.4. Terms of Surrender to Osama Bin Laden’s Demands

In his book “Marching Toward Hell”, Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer argues in denial of an Islamist enemy to America, and he insists that those Americans concerned about Islamism are seeking “victory over a foe that exists only in [their] mind” (p. xvi). Mr. Scheuer argues that Osama bin Laden’s declarations of war (1996 and 1998) against the United States were “a defensive reaction to specific U.S. foreign policies and their impact in the Muslim world” (p. xiv), and America’s failure is in not changing its foreign policies to surrender to Osama Bin Laden’s demands.

Mr. Scheuer claims on the one hand to be an ultra-nationalist stating “the only country I care about is the United States” (p. 222), while on the other hand “the United States has no more right to exist than does Israel, Palestine, Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, or Russia” (p. 28). This careless viewpoint regarding the existence of nations, some of which are American allies, provides Mr. Scheuer with his Non-Interventionist rationale as to why there is no dishonor in abandoning American global allies to fight Islamist terrorism alone. Per Mr. Scheuer, “America is simply in the way of Islamist forces and so prevents the attainment of their goals in the Islamic world; that is, to destroy the family-owned and U.S.-supported Muslim tyrannies that have ruled the region since 1945 and to destroy Israel” (p. 250). Per Mr. Scheuer, “the United States is not the main enemy of bin Laden and other Islamists” (p.250), therefore Mr. Scheuer argues that a Non-Isolationist approach to Islamism, and abandoning American allies, is the best course of action to ensure that Islamist terrorists will leave America alone.

Mr. Scheuer summarizes America’s terms of surrender to global Islamism, as America appeasing Osama Bin Laden on six Islamist “indictments”: “U.S. presence on the Arabian Peninsula; military presence in Muslim lands; unqualified support for Israel; support for Russia, China, and India against Muslims; theft of Muslim oil; and protection of Muslim tyrannies” (p. 98). I will disprove each of arguments for these terms of surrender in the following paragraphs.

Regarding “U.S. presence on the Arabian Peninsula”, Mr. Scheuer argues that American efforts to defend its ally Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War with staging of military forces in Saudi Arabia was an unforgivable affront to Islamists, due to defiance of “Muhammad’s prohibition against the presence of non-Muslims on the Arabian Peninsula” (p. 41). Mr. Scheuer argues that whenever the U.S. can ignore the needs of an ally nation, on the chance that it might offend any Islamist, the U.S. should choose the dishonorable path of abandoning allies in hopes of Islamist appeasement. The reality is that such an Islamist indictment of Americans on the Arabian Peninsula based on actions in the 1990s is nonsensical. American oil companies have been active, and invited into the Arabian Peninsula since 1938. But Mr. Scheuer would have us believe in the nonsensical argument that defending an ally nation in the 1990s was an unpardonable lack of foresight on America’s part in not taking Islamist sensibilities into consideration.

In terms of “military presence in Muslim lands”, the fact is that Mr. Scheuer himself sought to provide military presence in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, while he was with the CIA. Mr. Scheuer states that he sought “to do all I could to help the Afghan mujahedin kill as many Soviet military personnel as possible” (p. 57). As a known historical fact, it was precisely because of such American military presence welcomed in Afghanistan that many Jihadists gained military training, which supported the organization of Al-Qaeda’s organization. Mr. Scheuer asks Americans to accept an incredulous Islamist “indictment” by Osama Bin Laden that condemns the same “military presence” that benefited his efforts against the Soviet Union 10 years before Bin Laden’s initial declaration of war against the United States. Moreover, the “military presence in Muslims lands” totally ignores the historical presence of Axis and pro-Nazi forces in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc., not to mention efforts by Islamist leaders to create Nazi spy rings in the Middle East. The historical truth is that a foreign “military presence in Muslim lands” has been a reality for over 60 years. Islamists had no complaint or outrage when this military presence benefited them as in Afghanistan, or when they philosophically supported the ideology behind such a foreign military presence as with Nazi Germany. Mr. Scheuer’s argument calling for American appeasement on this Islamist so-called “indictment” is clearly, on closer inspection, based on nothing more than a deceit and a fraud.

Regarding “unqualified support for Israel”, Mr. Scheuer states that since “Israel’s survival is not essential to U.S. security” (p. 56), it would be in America’s interest to abandon Israel to appease Islamist goals “to destroy Israel” (p. 250). As Mr. Scheuer believes that the U.S. Holocaust Museum is a “clandestine” Israeli operation, his argument (repeated many times throughout his book) in favor of abandoning Israel is not surprising. Mr. Scheuer views that U.S. ally nation Israel has no “right to exist” (p. 28), and furthermore argues that American acceptance of any nation’s “‘right to exist’ is especially ahistorical when it is advocated by Americans, as it is a ‘right’ that they have never insisted for their own nation” (p. 28). (Mr. Scheuer conveniently forgets about the July 4, 1776 United States Declaration of Independence.) However, Mr. Scheuer’s baseline assumption that the United States provides “unqualified support for Israel” (p. 98) is simply false. This Islamist propaganda talking-point ignores the real facts: the United States has provided untold millions of taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Administration and Palestinians, the United States has provided weapons for Palestinian security (some of which have been reported to be used in Palestinian operations against Israelis), the United States has allowed numerous charities, NGOs, and American groups to provide manpower, education and support for Palestinians, the United States has repeatedly attempted to broker peace efforts between Palestinians and Israelis, the United States has been critical of Israel government actions, and the United States has sought Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas as a “peace partner” – despite his history debating the extent of the Holocaust. The fact is that while Islamist nations and groups raise funds for Palestinians to kill themselves and Israelis, the American taxpayers and untold American charities routinely provide funds for the health, education, and peaceful welfare of Palestinians. How does that translate into “unqualified support for Israel”? It doesn’t. What Non-Interventionist appeasers of Islamism seek to target is the fact the United States provides “qualified support for Israel” as an ally nation, the only democracy in the Middle East, as America would historically support any ally nation under attack. Once again, the Non-Interventionists depend on a false argument to appease Islamists.

Mr. Scheuer also parrots the Islamist “indictment” that America provides “support for Russia, China, and India against Muslims”. Regarding India, Mr. Scheuer ignores that approximately 3,700 Indians were killed in terrorist attacks between January 2004 and March 2007, and reports of 62,000 Indians killed in terrorist attacks in the 15 year period prior to December 2002. If that is how America provides such “support” to India versus Islamists, one would obviously question what level of support that amounts to. How long would Americans tolerate a fatality rate to terrorism equivalent to the reported 65,000 dead in India? But America’s level of “support” to India is clearly way too much here in the eyes of the Non-Interventionists. It isn’t enough that India endured a massive, bloody war with Islamists and had to create Pakistan. It isn’t enough that India has 20 times the terrorist death toll that America had on 9/11. It isn’t enough that barely a month passes without another terror attack taking place or being foiled in India. Clearly that is not enough for the Islamists that we should further appease, according to Non-Interventionists like Mr. Scheuer. He further recognizes that neighboring “Bangladesh is set to become a regional hub for Islamist activities”, which he shrugs off as something that “Washington can do little about” (p. 172).

Mr. Scheuer’s repetition of the Islamist “indictment” against U.S. foreign policy with Russia – ignores the Islamist terror travesties such as Beslan school massacre. In terms of Russia, and its history of terrorist attacks by Chechen Islamists on its subways, buses, planes, trains, and schools, what level of “support” is the United States providing “against Muslims” in Russia? Would that be the U.S. State Department’s complaints to Russia that “Moscow’s black-and-white treatment of the conflict” has made cooperation in the war against terrorism more difficult? Beyond the Islamist rhetoric, the fact is that Russia has historically complained about America’s handling of Chechen groups and uncooperativeness on the Chechen terror issue. That is a documented, historical fact that Islamist propagandists will continue to ignore. If anything, America should be doing more to help Russia with its Chechen terrorist problem, not less as Mr. Scheuer states. Mr. Scheuer recognizes the continuing threat of North Caucasus including the potential threat of nuclear component smuggling, but once again Mr. Scheuer shrugs off this challenge as “the United States will one day have to deal with a Russia whose diplomatic positions and national interests are defined in increasing measure by the demands of its Muslim peoples” (pp. 169-170). The defeatist nature of this Non-Interventionist ideology when it comes to a nuclear power like Russia is nothing short of suicidal.

Mr. Scheuer also claims that U.S. foreign policy is defective due to the Islamist “indictment” of U.S. “support for China against Muslims” (p. 98) as well as America’s “support for the genocides… Beijing’s against Uighur Muslims” (p. 231). It is hardly surprising that Mr. Scheuer fails to support such wild claims. Once again, the Non-Interventionist argument is based on a falsehood and an Islamist propaganda talking point. This falsehood would be readily apparent to any American who is aware that Communist China is anything but an ally and a friend of the United States, and that our political relationship with Communist China has long been “strained” at best. While Americans are rightly concerned about Jihadists in any part of the world, the U.S. is not supporting “genocide” against Chinese Uighur Muslims. The facts are that, during American fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S. captured about a dozen Uighur Chinese Jihadists that have since been held at Guantanamo Bay. In 2006, the United States determined that five of these Uighur Chinese individuals were not terrorists, and they were transferred to a U.N. facility in Albania. The United States sent these Uighur Chinese to Albania rather than allow them to be returned to China for fear of their safety. The fact is that the United States repeatedly defied China’s request for the return of these Uighur Chinese individuals, and as of November 2007, one of the Uighur Chinese individuals was reunited with his family in Sweden. But the Non-Interventionist argument on U.S. foreign policy denies all of these facts and would have Americans believe the Islamist canard that the U.S. is supporting “genocide” against Uighur Muslims. Like so much of the Non-Interventionist argument, once again it is based on a falsehood.

In Mr. Scheuer’s condemnation of U.S. foreign policy based on the Islamist claim of U.S “theft of Muslim oil”, Mr. Scheuer defends this argument as “many Muslims entertained visions of what might be possible vis-a-vis their standard of living if a barrel of oil was pegged at bin Laden’s goal of at least $100 and the titanic thieving of their government could be reduced to the merely gross” (p. 150). Once again, this is more nonsense. Less than a month after Mr. Scheuer’s book was published, the price of a barrel of oil was over $110. Will the high price of oil end Islamist terrorism? Or will it provide more profit to Wahhabists and Khumeinists to fund Islamism around the world? Notably when Wahhabists get such petrodollar-based donations from wealthy Saudi princes, their first instinct is not to improve living conditions for Saudis or improve the standard of living for Saudis; it is used by Wahhabists to further spread Islamism and Islamist terrorism around the world. With all of the petrodollar oil profit that Wahhabists have received from oil buyers around the world, not to mention zakat payments on Islamist finance, such familiar victims recounted by Islamists as the Palestinian people – could have the best schools, the best food, and the best living conditions. The choice of Islamists to invest petrodollar profits in suicide bombs, in propaganda, and in hate-mongering – that is the deliberate choice of Islamists, not the result of unfair oil prices or unfair access to petrodollar profits. Once again, the Non-Interventionist argument is based on another fallacy promoted by Islamists to deceive Americans.

Mr. Scheuer’s final Islamist “indictment” in U.S. foreign policy is in regards to the claim of U.S. “protection of Muslim tyrannies”. Notably, he leaves such so-called “Islamist republics” like Iran out of this discussion. For an individual who mocks American efforts to spread democracy to Muslims, as nothing more than efforts “so Mrs. Muhammad can vote, vamp, and abort” (p. 254), Mr. Scheuer manages to simultaneously condemn America for defending “Muslim tyrannies”. Needless to say, Mr. Scheuer sees no logical contradiction in this. Mr. Scheuer also sees nothing but “failure” by the limited efforts at “democracy” in America’s defeat of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Yet Mr. Scheuer also argues that America is at fault for defending “Muslim tyrannies”, as the American military overthrow (no matter how effective or ineffective) in Afghanistan and Iraq count for nothing towards challenging “Muslim tyrannies”. Nor is Mr. Scheuer concerned about were America challenges such “Muslim tyrannies” like in Iran, where freedom is crushed, where women’s rights are crushed, where human rights are doled out based on an Islamist Sharia interpretation, and where so-called elections are between anti-freedom Islamists. No, Mr. Scheuer is not concerned about that “Muslim tyranny” either. In Pakistan, the Pakistanis have just completed free elections, while continuing to struggle with Islamism and Islamist terrorism in that country. And certainly no educated individual would argue the prima facie nonsense that the United States is “protecting” Syria.

So this leaves Mr. Scheuer’s condemnations about U.S. “protection of Muslim tyrannies” to nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. It is a fact that none of these nations are a democracy. The U.S. government has been urging all of these nations to introduce some level of democratic changes. As shown by Islamist Iran, voting alone is clearly not sufficient for a “democracy”; democratic values and freedoms along with free elections makes a nation a democracy. It is also a fact that in each of these nations, they have struggled with Islamist terrorists in their nations, and particularly in Egypt, it has been active in repressing Islamists from electoral participation. Clearly political Islamism is not an answer to the growth of these nations, and while America has frequently pushed for increased liberties in these nations, it is also cognizant that political Islamism would only replace one “tyranny” with another that is much worse.

However, in Mr. Scheuer’s blind recitation of Islamist talking points as an argument for Non-Interventionism, he does not offer an alternative, other than his outrageous statement that Bin Laden’s Islamism will “urg[e] Muslims to liberate themselves from tyranny in order to attain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in terms that are compatible with their Islamic faith” (p. 164). In fact, it precisely that Islamist ideology lauded in Mr. Scheuer’s statement which is the greatest threat of “Muslim tyranny” as clearly seen in the so-called “Islamic Republic” of Iran.

The challenge to the Middle East and America is to recognize that political Islamism is the root of such “Muslim tyrannies” and is anything but a solution to non-democratic nations in the Middle East. Not supporting an anti-freedom ideology that seeks to establish a “tyranny”, whether it is Islamism, Communism, or Nazism – is not an “indictment” against U.S. foreign policy – it is a definition of who we are as Americans. The final Islamist “indictment” on U.S. foreign policy by Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer is also revealed for the nonsensical falsehood that it is.

3.5. The Non-Interventionist Abandonment of the World to Islamism

But these Islamist terms of surrender from Osama Bin Laden urged on Americans by Non-Interventionists are not enough. It is hardly just Israel that the Non-Interventionists seek America to abandon – it is quite literally the entire world. Mr. Scheuer claims that nothing short of America surrendering its position in addressing Islamism and Islamist terrorism throughout the world will suffice. Clearly his argument of appeasement seeks to proactively negotiate even greater terms of American surrender to Osama Bin Laden and Islamists than even they have demanded.

So Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist guidance on U.S. foreign policy continues to be littered with a series of defeatist recommendations and warnings should America dare to intervene in areas of the world where Islamism is continuing to grow.

In Nigeria, Mr. Scheuer warns that “where U.S. forces may have to intervene to secure oil supplies, the prospect of doing so in the Niger Delta may be the most appallingly difficult and bloody” (p. 174). In effect, Mr. Scheuer warns the U.S. to ignore a nation which has frequently seen Islamist violence, has seen efforts to attempt to institute Sharia law, and which represents a risk to evolve into another Islamist terror base.

In Somalia, Mr. Scheuer complains of how “trying to kill Somali-based al-Qaeda leaders” has been turned “into another casus belli for jihadists by endorsing the Christian Ethiopians’ destruction of an Islamist government and subsequent stationing of troops in the country to fight Somali Islamists” (p. 178). Mr. Scheuer apparently seeks to echo Osama Bin Laden’s July 2006 warning to America not to send troops to Somalia to fight Islamist terrorists. Moreover, Mr. Scheuer effectively seeks the U.S. to ignore a nation that has had a history of recruiting Islamist terrorists from around the world (including the U.S.) to help expand an Islamist terror base in Somalia.

In Thailand, Mr. Scheuer threatens that should America “be committed to respond positively to a Thai request for military help against the Islamist insurgency”, that “even the bare possibility of U.S. involvement in Vietnam-like jungle combat… would in turn draw other regional Islamist fighters to Thailand like a magnet” (p. 176). Once again, any where in the world where Islamist terror is having a significant influence, Mr. Scheuer would have America ignore it. In the past four years, Thailand has seen 2,776 killed as a result of Islamist terrorism in Thailand’s southern regions – nearly the same death toll as the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City. Not mentioned in this Thailand terrorist attack death toll is the grisly nature of the endless litany of decapitations, burning victims alive, and deliberate savage attacks on children, schools, elderly, and women. But Mr. Scheuer would have America look the other way regarding the Islamist terrorist crimes against humanity in Thailand.

In Europe, Mr. Scheuer shrugs off the growing Islamist problem as something where there is “very little America can do to help” (p. 179) and asserts that that it is “almost impossible for Americans to help Europe” (p. 180), as “demographic statistics” alone will allow Islamists to conquer Europe. In his defeatist discourse, Mr. Scheuer assails Europeans’ “manliness” (p. 179), while he argues for the surrender of the world to Islamism. Europe clearly does have many serious problems with Islamism, and it is well documented as to Europe’s demographic problems. But how does acknowledging this justify American abandonment of Europe? It doesn’t. America fought two World Wars to help liberate Europe. Apparently, given Mr. Scheuer’s philosophical embrace of Charles Lindbergh’s Non-Interventionist ideology, he views such past American sacrifices as a waste of time, as he shrugs while recognizing the growing Islamist movement develop in Europe.

Especially in Europe, ignorance of the growing Islamist movement is nothing short of national security suicide for the United States. The facts are that Europe-based Islamist terrorist cells were used in planning the 9/11 terror attacks, and have been used frequently since to try repeated efforts to attack the United States, especially with United Kingdom-based Islamist cells. In August 2006, a plot by British Islamist terrorists to hijack transatlantic jetliners to crash into the United States was foiled; had it succeeded, the loss of lives in the American homeland easily would have been in the tens of thousands if not more. In April 2001, British Islamist terrorists were in the final stages of plots against terrorist attacks in New York City on financial buildings, Jewish targets, and possibly the World Trade Center. In fact, British Islamist terrorists could have been the ones that succeeded in the first major mass-casualty terrorist attacks in the United States homeland, before the 9/11 attacks.

But Mr. Scheuer still makes a Non-Interventionist argument is that America can be secure from Islamist terrorists by appeasing Islamists and allowing their influence to grow around the world. Europe is just as acceptable a loss under such terms of surrender, as the rest of the world is – no matter what the direct consequences are to America’s national security.

Certainly, the U.S. has finite resources, which it must delegate based on a clear definition of the enemy and priorities in a coherent strategy to defeat the enemy. Such reality of finite American resources, however, does not justify the Non-Interventionist argument to ignore and abandon every area outside of the American homeland to Islamist terrorism and Islamism. This is nothing short of surrender. But to the Non-Interventionists, surrender is not a dishonorable notion; rather it is a practical tactic to achieve “peace in our time”.

3.6. The Non-Interventionist Demand for a Truce with Islamist Terrorism

Finally, as if Mr. Scheuer is seeking America to just sign on the dotted line of such surrender terms, he reiterates the value of surrender to Islamism. Specifically, Mr. Scheuer warns of the consequences of those who do not surrender to his “political genius” Osama Bin Laden. Mr. Scheuer writes: “[i]n April 2004, bin Laden had also spoken to the populations of America’s allies, warning them that the previous month’s attack on the Atocha train station in Madrid was an example of what al-Qaeda has in store for them”, and foolishly in Mr. Scheuer’s view, then “[t]he governments of Europe contemptuously rejected bin Laden’s truce offer, and al-Qaeda made its chief’s words good by attacking the London subway system on July 7, 2005″ (pp. 200-201).

Mr. Scheuer then goes on to cite the political misfortunes of those in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Poland, and Australia – who dared to side with the United States. Mr. Scheuer crows that their political failures are the result of a successful “al-Qaeda policy result[ing] in… decrease in the will of U.S. allies to support American military operations against the group and its allies”. “[E]ach clearly advances the goals of the doctrine for international political warfare that bin Laden established for al-Qaeda; the erosion of popular support for the war on terrorism among the populations of America’s allies, and the gradual isolation of the United States” (pp. 201-203).

Basically, to make sure that Americans get Islamist Osama Bin Laden’s message, Mr. Scheuer underscores his point – surrender or else.

In Mr. Scheuer’s view, there is no hope against Islamism – America has already lost; surrender is nothing more than a pragmatic cutting of our losses, and all that remains is a craven appeal to the mercy of Islamists by America not standing “in the way” (p. 250) of Islamists to conquer the rest of the world. Yet as previously proven, this Non-Interventionist propaganda is based on a litany of falsehoods, deceptions, the leveraging of America’s confused monofocus on tactical operations, and, of course, an appeal to American fear and malaise. The Non-Interventionists seek to remake America into the land of the confused and the home of the cowards. Americans must refuse this Non-Interventionist defeatist ideology and these disgraceful terms of surrender.

Yet, the issue is not just that America must not surrender to Islamism and that it must reject the defeatist policies of Non-Interventionism. To truly address this issue, America must find a shared understanding regarding America’s identity, and recognize that it is the battle for America’s identity that is what truly empowers the Non-Interventionist movement. It is with a definition of who America is and what it stands for – that patriotic Americans can most effectively denounce and reject the anti-freedom ideology of Islamism and the appeaser arguments of Non-Interventionism.

4. Non-Interventionism and the Battle for the Identity of America

On September 12, 2001, could you have imagined that six and a half years later, Americans would be writing about and publicly advocating accepting terms of surrender with Islamist Osama Bin Laden? Let alone gaining praise for such defeatism by the Washington Post, Newsweek, the New York Times, and being uncritically allowed to bruit such propaganda on major national news television programs? While spreading a defeatist argument that is explicitly endorsed by Osama Bin Laden himself?

The magnitude of such Non-Interventionist appeasement during wartime, when your nation itself has been under attack by the enemy, is more than a Charles Lindbergh-led, “America First” isolationist phenomenon. The magnitude of a national presidential candidate such as Ron Paul espousing Non-Interventionism during wartime in America is more than a few outrageous books, speeches, and Internet web sites by former CIA employees. The root of this problem is much deeper; it requires an examination of the malaise and identity crisis that America has been struggling with since the Cold War, and a redefinition of our identity in regards to the global Islamist and Islamist terror threats to America and the world.

It is nothing less than a battle for the very identity of America.

4.1. The National Ignominy of the Non-Interventionist Argument

Given the enormous sacrifices of our fathers and forefathers, of American peoples for hundreds of years, to preserve, protect, and defend such commitment to liberty and justice – how dare any individual demand that our nation surrender to anti-freedom tyrannies such as Islamism. It is a craven disgrace beyond words.

The lack of political willpower to crush such disgraceful, defeatist dialogue through action and a strategy against a defined enemy is just a further ignominy to our great nation. It is a national imperative that all Americans must demand that American political leadership do the right thing, no matter how costly and difficult, in clearly identifying its enemy, in clearly defining the links between Islamist terrorism and Islamism, and in developing a blueprint strategy for all American use of resources to effectively combat this global enemy.

But to effectively come together, unified, as a United States of America, against such anti-freedom enemies as Islamist terrorism and Islamism, it is also essential to understand and counter the malaise and confusion that allows Non-Interventionists to spread their message and to keep us living in fear.

4.2. Source of American Malaise: Exhaustion from Racing Globalism and Complex Challenges

American business in the 20th and 21st centuries has required an endless series of globalist pressures that have filtered down to the American public in their life style habits, working hours, family commitments, and how their time is used. The endless frenetic pace of American workers in globalism has led to a decrease in reading, of fractionalized information media sources, dependency on sound bites, and on reactive decision making to keep pace with speed of globalism and global changes that increasingly affect the lives of Americans. Simultaneously, America has spent much of the better part of a century in a series of world wars and anticipation of such wars, concluding in a 40 year protracted “Cold War” with the former USSR. In the course of that protracted “Cold War”, a marked weariness in the American public found itself in a series of reactions that perhaps the Communist USSR was “not so bad”, and that perhaps military struggles such as the Vietnam War were not really worth the sacrifice in fighting the spread of the anti-freedom ideology of Communism.

Over the course of this period of weariness and malaise, the American baby boomer generation questioned America’s role in fighting against such anti-freedom ideologies. Some left the country to avoid military service, and some adopted a new language to critique concerns that the U.S. military was fighting simply for the sake of fighting. On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower’s exit speech contained a reference to post-WWII America to be cautious about its military expenditures, warning of a growing influence of a “military-industrial complex”. This phrase and the oxymoronic use of the phrase “American imperialism” would become part of the vocabulary of debate during the ongoing military conflicts with the anti-freedom ideology of Communism in the years to follow. With 20/20 historical hindsight, it is clear that a centralized military response in the Cold War was a necessity to address the technological weapons threats of the Communist USSR enemy. But during that period of American history, that issue was still an open debate, as the newly adult American superpower gained its first lessons in balancing its inherent ideology of liberty with its global responsibilities.

But that baby-boomer dialogue and mentality would continue to influence academia, the mass media, and Americans for generations afterwards. “Vietnam quagmire” was the phrase used to attack any who would consider using American force in the world. In Afghanistan, American political leadership found it more politically acceptable to fight Communists via the Jihadist proxies, who would later turn on America itself. And the American defeat and withdrawal in Vietnam scarred a generation so much, that when the Communist USSR enemy inevitably collapsed in December 1991, there was as much puzzlement as there was joy. Among many in the baby-boomer generation there was also a sigh of relief that America had dodged a bullet in not having to fight an ICBM world war with the USSR. But the dialogue, language, and way of thinking among academia, the mass media, and much of the public did not change as a result of the Communist USSR collapse. There were no victory parades, no monuments to those who fought and dedicated their lives to defeating the anti-freedom ideology of Communism. Even the controversial Vietnam War memorial was a black, grim, slate of despair.

Outside of the short-lived tactical 1990-1991 Gulf War defending the U.S. ally of Kuwait, which Mr. Scheuer condemns as giving rationale for the Islamist “indictment” against “U.S. presence on the Arabian Peninsula” (p. 98), the post-USSR mood of the country was decided against foreign military engagements. As a result, there was no vision that recognized the need to challenge the anti-freedom ideology of Islamism. So despite repeated declarations of war by Osama Bin Laden in 1996 and 1998, the American political leadership was so affected by the national malaise regarding foreign engagements that decisions were made to not aggressively pursue Islamist terrorists in the 1990s. Islamists increasingly became convinced that America was no longer willing to fight.

4.3. The Depths of Despair in Confronting Global Threats

The deep and cancerous spread of this dialogue and thinking during the period of American malaise can not be underestimated. It is a fundamental aspect of why Non-Interventionist propaganda has successfully reached the American people, even during wartime. Once one starts looking for it, the malaise is like an ever-present virus infecting the nation, it is found in academia, it is found in the media, it is found in literature, it is found among political parties, it is found in the government, and in fact, it is hard not to find it. But identifying it is the first step to fighting and crushing it.

A typical product of the malaise regarding global threats is Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11″, which received American and foreign film awards. Mr. Moore’s non-interventionist propaganda film seeks to portray an America that is controlled by a government-induced climate of fear, and that goes to war only because of baby boomer-era military-industrial complex arguments. In Mr. Moore’s non-interventionist propaganda film, the war in Afghanistan is not to fight the Taliban who gave refuge to Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda to attack the United States homeland, but it is for ulterior corporate objectives, such as a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean. Not surprisingly, this film was popularly received among Islamists in the world, including Islamist Iran.

But the true depth of the malaise can be found in a 2006 propaganda film, sarcastically titled “Why We Fight”, produced and directed by Eugene Jarecki (who also directed the 2002 film “The Trials of Henry Kissinger”). In this film, Mr. Jarecki posed as a BBC filmmaker interviewing people about the Iraq war, when in fact, his intent was actually to get enough footage of film of American military members, civilians, and political figures making various comments, so that he could cut such comments out of context and make a film diatribe condemning the American “military-industrial complex”. Among those that Mr. Jarecki succeeds in embarrassing this way is Senator John McCain, who Mr. Jarecki then prominently lists as a “star” in this propaganda pseudo-documentary.

Mr. Jarecki managed to get clips of Senator McCain, a war hero who fought against Communism and who is dedicated to American values, making comments on the “military-industrial complex” and American “imperialism”: “President Eisenhower was concerned about the military-industrial complex. These words have unfortunately come true. He was worried that priorities are set by what benefits corporations, as opposed to what benefits the country” and “where the debate and controversy begins, is how far does the United States go, and when does it go from being a force for good to a force of imperialism”.

Even out of context, this language demonstrates the widespread reach of the malaise that America is facing that it must exorcise from its dialogue in using force to protect American interests, and that it must exorcise from its dialogue in combating anti-freedom ideologies around the world. When our war heroes talk like this, Americans need to realize that our nation’s psyche needs some serious ideological repair and re-tuning to remember truly why we fight. In today’s world, our enemy is not the “military-industrial complex” or “American imperialism” – our enemy remains the continuing threat of global Islamist terrorism inspired by the ideology of Islamism.

4.4. The Wakeup Call and the Failure to Develop a Strategy

On September 11, 2001, America received a tragic wake-up call on the threat of Islamist terrorism. For a short time, the blow to the nation cleared the fog of malaise that had long hovered over our nation like a dark cloud. Mr. Scheuer’s “political genius” Osama Bin Laden had miscalculated on America’s willingness to regroup, unify, and fight its enemies.

But after the September 18, 2001 U.S. Authorization for Use of Military Force, there was no follow through on defining the enemy, the enemy’s ideology, and developing a global strategy to address the enemy – with resources used on a priority basis to address such a specific strategy on an identified enemy. To date, other than the 2004 9/11 Commission Report reference on “Islamist terrorism”, there still remains this massive glaring hole in America’s political leadership in facing this global enemy.

In the absence of such strategic-thinking leadership, the fog of malaise found time to regroup and darken America’s psyche once again. An enervated America found distractions in endless debates over tactics, effectiveness of individual military operations, and arguments over whom or what the “enemy” was. Conspiracy theorist groups blossomed to debate whether there even was an enemy, or if all of the 9/11 attacks were indeed engineered by the U.S. government. In the ever broadening chasm of non-strategic American political leadership, the media, academia, and the public fell right back into abyss of the generations of malaise from which it had been awakened, and the same old dysfunctional discussion about American “imperialism” and “military-industrial complex” was reintroduced.

It is in this context that Non-Interventionists such as Mr. Scheuer dare to offer Americans with terms of surrender to Osama Bin Laden and the Islamists. But such advocates of surrender can only succeed if we lack the national will to demand that our American political leadership makes the decisions to identify the enemy, and develop a strategy that is focused on the Islamist terrorist enemy and its links to Islamist ideology — and uses resources to strictly address that strategy.

4.5. The Desperate Need for American Political Leadership to Define the Enemy

Both in our national leadership and across the nation, it is not enough to continue to straddle the fence on identifying the enemy and its ideology, which is more than merely “extremism”. We cannot pretend we have an enemy without an ideology. We cannot pretend that the enemy can be fought with only words or only weapons. America must have a strategy to do both – and a strategy that is based on an honest, fearless reckoning of the enemy’s identity.

Both the enemy and the Non-Interventionists benefit from such vacillation. The enemy wins from such straddling because America cannot get united in a cause to defeat it if it remains unknowable. The Non-Interventionists win because without an identified enemy, any military, diplomatic, or strategic global action can be condemned as not being in America’s so-called “nationalist” interests.

In these times that desperately require American political leadership on this subject, it is essential that Americans challenge those who seek to lead our nation on whether they can define the enemy, whether they can define the global strategy America must take against our enemy, and whether they can end the reactive-only operational tactics that have defined our efforts thus far. Americans must seek such specific commitments about Islamist terrorism and Islamism from those who aspire to national political leadership.

Senator McCain identifies the enemy as “violent Islamist extremists” and seeks to defend America from “global terrorism and Islamist extremism”. As previously discussed, the term “extremism” means different things to different peoples; “extremism” is a politically correct term that needs to be abandoned for something specific and precise. More important is Senator McCain’s use of the term “Islamist”, as referenced in the 9/11 Commission report discussing “Islamist terrorism”. If Senator McCain views Islamism as the root cause of Islamist terrorism (per the 9/11 Commission Report findings), then he needs to state so clearly and unequivocally, and explain his strategy to deal with the growth of global Islamism itself. Merely recognizing the dangers to our nation from “terrorists” or “extremists” on a tactical and operational basis are the mistakes of the past. Senator McCain needs to step forward and break with that past to clearly define the enemy and its ideology, and work to develop the strategy to defeat them.

Senator Clinton states that she can see “an America respected around the world again, that reaches out to our allies and confronts our shared challenges – from global terrorism to global warming to global epidemics.” But surely she must understand that for any true respect, America must define its enemies and also define what the specific threat to “global terrorism” is. Unlike the Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer, Senator Clinton states that she supports “Israel’s right to exist”, but this “support” doesn’t mean much if she can’t define our enemies and develop a strategy to combat them. Moreover, while Senator Clinton states “you can’t lump all terrorists together” and “we’ve got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations”, she needs to start with identifying the enemy, and explaining what her strategy would be to fight the enemy. It is disturbing that Senator Clinton perceives the past tactical, operational focused approach to fighting Islamist terrorism as an “ideologically driven foreign policy that is not rooted in a realistic assessment of the world”. Since this is her documented position, Senator Clinton needs to define what is “ideological” about a operational-centric position in fighting terrorism, and what her position is on the ideology of Islamism and its links to Islamist terrorism, as defined in the 9/11 Commission Report.

While Senator Obama rails against “color-coded politics of fear”, he needs to do much more in identifying the enemy other than identify a threat of “stateless terrorism” and of “violent extremists”. Senator Obama states that “[j]ust because the President misrepresents our enemies does not mean we do not have them.” If so, then it is Senator Obama’s obligation to correctly represent our enemies. But while Senator Obama recognizes that enemy “seek[s] to create a repressive caliphate”, Senator Obama fails to provide any more specifics. If Senator Obama seeks to represent change, the first change he must commit to is identifying the enemy and developing a strategy to defeating them, including his position is on the ideology of Islamism and its links to Islamist terrorism, as defined in the 9/11 Commission Report.

As Americans, we have a choice in our political leadership. We must demand responsibility of our leadership in identifying our enemy, in determining the links between Islamist terrorism and Islamism, and a developing a global strategy to fight this anti-freedom ideology. It is never too late to do the right thing.

Our choice is a choice that anti-freedom Islamists would deny other people in the world. Our choice is a choice that Islamists seek to wrench away from freedom-loving peoples in the future. And our choice in the determination of that future – whether it is one of hope in freedom or one of fear of Islamist tyrannies and terror – is a choice that we are empowered to make. Because we are Americans. And because America is all about freedom – it is who and what we are.

It is a choice and a historical burden that we must make carefully. It is a responsibility for Americans to understand why we fight.

4.6. America the Beautiful: Why We Fight

Despite what the Non-Interventionist propagandists would argue, America is not founded merely on “nationalist” values but on principles and values broader and greater than any national boundary – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That revolutionary ideology stated on July 4, 1776 – that is the definition of our American values, and they are more than merely “nationalism”. It is this very ideology that defines the basis of who we are and what we stand for as Americans.

As Abraham Lincoln expounded on this idea: “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it. All honor to Jefferson–to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.”

America represents an ideology of equality to humankind throughout the world that challenges all tyrannies, all anti-freedom ideologies, all oppressors, and all those who would seek the surrender of human dignity. Understanding this fundamental truth about the identity of America and what American values mean around the world – must be an inherent part of being an American.

American political leadership must do the right thing, no matter how costly and difficult, in clearly identifying its enemy, in clearly defining the links between Islamist terrorism and Islamism, and developing a blueprint strategy for all American use of resources to effectively combat this global enemy. Americans make mistakes, but whenever we remember who and what we are, we can correct them.

Most importantly, the responsibility to change things and to correct our nation to get us on the right path to do the right thing is within our grasp. This responsibility in our American democracy lies with each and every one of us as individuals. We can and will make the difference. We can and will defy those who would have America surrender to anti-freedom tyrants. We can and will remain a light to all those in the world who seek freedom and hope.

The future rests in our hands and in our determination to never forget why we fight.

Why the iPhone will Change the (PC) World by Mike Elgan

More than a year ago, I wrote a column in this space called “Why the iPhone will change the (PC) world.” In that piece, I described how the user interface of future operating systems — the next-generation Windows, OS X and Linux UIs — will have iPhone-like elements such as multitouch, gestures, physics, 3-D and minimal icons.

When my initial column appeared, the Apple iPhone was the only major product on the horizon — it hadn’t even been released yet — that contained all those basic elements. Even eight months after its release, it remains the only product with those elements.

You can argue all day long about whether the iPhone is the best phone (it isn’t), or if Apple designers invented these five UI elements (they didn’t). But over the next decade it will become increasingly clear, as next-generation cell phone, laptop and desktop systems emerge, that the iPhone was breathtakingly ahead of its time.

That column was about the user interface of the future (if you haven’t seen the demos, check this out). But what about hardware? Here, too, the iPhone points toward the inevitable future of both mobile and desktop systems. That’s what this column is about.

Desktop PCs of the Future

Right now, your garden variety desktop PC features a big CPU with a monitor or two oriented vertically and facing the user. Cables or Bluetooth link keyboard and mouse.

Within seven years, PCs will change completely.

Next-generation user interfaces will have no use for a mouse. All that dragging and dropping, pointing and clicking, resizing and moving will be done directly with fingers touching the screen. Mice will go the way of the floppy disk, never to be seen again.

Real keyboards will be optional, and on-screen keyboards, enhanced by haptic feedback, will replace the real thing.

PC monitors will continue to grow until the average screen is well over 50 inches.

And, finally, the boxy CPU will disappear and PC boards and other electronics will vanish into the back of the monitor, much like the Apple iMac or the Dell XPS One. This approach reduces cabling, plus there will be plenty of real estate for components behind those big screens.

Because these display-centric PCs will be so large, and every square inch of those screens will need to be reached by the user’s hands, future monitors will be like drafting tables used at an angle. The bottom of the screen will be waist high, and the tops chin-high, or something like that. They’ll be capable of swiveling to vertical so they can be used for presentations or as a TV, or horizontal, for use as a physical desk. You’ll be able to place books or reports side-by-side with on-screen documents.

Laptop PCs of the Future

As is currently the case, most users will gravitate toward laptop computers that most closely approximate the desktop experience. That experience will be all about hands touching a massive next-generation UI where more screen real estate will be more important than a physical keyboard. That’s why laptops will likely retain the clamshell design, but the bottom half will be all screen, just like the top half.

Many laptops will be able to function in multiple modes, opened flat for maximum screen size (the two screens working as one), clamshell with a virtual keyboard on the bottom, or the top twisted around like some of today’s convertible tablets.

Both desktops and laptops will go the way of the iPod Touch — everything disappears into the screen, which you navigate with your fingers.

The future direction of technology is always hard (and perilous) to predict. However, I think all these major hardware changes are nearly certain. And I don’t see all this coming together in isolation, either, but as the result of an inexorable chain of causality.

If you accept the inevitability of the next-generation interface — the UI with advanced versions of iPhone’s multitouch, gestures, physics, 3-D and diminished role of symbolic representation (icons) — then all the rest follows. Screens will grow. Big screens you touch will have to be pivoted at an angle because constant vertical or horizontal use will be awkward and uncomfortable. Mice will vanish because you’ll touch on-screen objects directly. The screen will provide an incentive to get rid of the keyboard.

And as people get used to this paradigm for their desktop-equivalent computers, laptops with similar designs will follow. The easiest way to maximize both screen size and portability will be with a two-screen clamshell configuration.

Of course, there are many hurdles yet to overcome. The OS vendors will have to put a lot of research into making products affordable. The entire industry will need to get behind next-gen systems with applications, utilities, hardware and peripherals.

But that’s the direction we’re going. And iPhone got there first.

Caught in the Act: Smear Attempt on Steven Emerson and Others Boomerangs by Andrew Cochran

An effort by radical Islamists to smear terrorism expert Steven Emerson backfired last week when the allegations proved to be fabricated. An article entitled, “Paul Kendall: Did an ‘Expert’ on Terrorism Conspire With a Foreign Government to Violate the Constitutional Rights of American Muslims?” was posted on PR Newswire on March 4. It was based on copies of emails the author claimed to have reviewed. “These electronic communications prove that Steve Emerson, along with some anti-Muslim advocacy groups, worked directly with the public affairs office of the Israeli consulate in Boston to formulate the creation of a smear campaign intended to stop the construction of a new Islamic cultural center,” the article claimed.

PR Newswire sought to corroborate the article’s claims. But the emails say no such thing – out of dozens posted with the article, Steve Emerson is referenced in only two. In neither case is he shown in any communication with the Israeli consulate, communication which simply did not happen. The author of the article apparently did not respond to requests from PR Newswire for corroboration.

PR Newswire therefore issued a “Kill” order on the story at 12:33 p.m. on Friday, March 7, withdrawing the original press release. This was confirmed in an email and telephone call to Steve’s attorney Richard Horowitz. WordPress.com also removed a blog containing the same report: “This blog has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service.”

Steve Emerson expresses gratitude for the way both entities handled the situation. “I run an independent organization that takes no money from any government, or from anybody outside the United States,” he told me. “This report was an attempt at a viral smear, using the Internet to spread lies about my work. I appreciate the responsible steps PR Newswire and WordPress took to ensure they were not used any further.”

The emails in the original article appear to be part of the discovery process from a lawsuit brought in 2005 by the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB). A year earlier, Boston media outlets reported on the ISB’s mosque project. Most of the coverage focused on a land deal between a city redevelopment arm and the ISB which was well below market value. Several ISB officials also had demonstrable involvement in radical Islamist activity.

Those officials include former ISB board member and former American Muslim Council President Abdurrahman Alamoudi. Alamoudi is serving 23 years in prison after a 2004 guilty plea for illegal transactions with Libya and for participating in a plot to assassinate the Saudi Crown Prince. ISB officials had contended that they had broken ties with Alamoudi years earlier, but discovery records from the Society showed it paid Alamoudi a speaking fee in November 2000, just two months after Alamoudi stood in LaFayette Park in Washington, D.C. and publicly proclaimed his support for Hamas and Hizballah.

In addition, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Yusuf al-Qaradawi was identified as an ISB trustee. Qaradawi issued a fatwa stating that Muslims killed fighting American forces in Iraq are martyrs. “Those killed fighting the American forces are martyrs given their good intentions since they consider these invading troops an enemy within their territories but without their will.”

An ISB director named Walid Fitaihi had written that Jews had “perpetrated the worst of evils and brought the worst corruption to the earth” and engaged in “oppression, murder and rape of the worshipers of Allah.”

The ISB dropped its lawsuit against Emerson, the Boston Herald, the Fox affiliate in Boston, the David Project and others in May 2007. For Steve Emerson and the others sued by the ISB, there were no settlement payments, no retractions and no restrictions on future reporting or claims about the Society. ISB’s dropping of a lawsuit win represented a victory for freedom of speech and the press. But it demonstrated the lawfare that jihadists are trying to use to stifle freedom of speech. Smearing is the next tactic they use.

The Islamic Society of Boston used its connections with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to get a parcel of land at a fraction of its real cost. In its lawsuit, the Society claimed that reporting on the deal and the presence of Islamist extremists within the ISB dried up its funding. But financial documents produced under discovery show massive amounts of money coming in from the Persian Gulf and bank accounts flush with millions of dollars.

Other discovery records show significant financial support from Saudi Arabian funders, attempts to fraudulently change the board of the mosque at the last moment to shield the real board from discovery, destruction of emails (right before they were to deliver them, at which point the ISB dropped the case) and some unusual financial transactions. The entire episode, including an attempt to stifle free speech, the support from extremists, and a clear conflict of interest in the awarding of land at a fraction of its value to ISB, call for a larger federal and Congressional investigation, especially since the Boston Mayor, Boston City Council and the FBI in Boston appear to have tolerated the deceit practiced by the ISB.

The ISB has received political support from the Muslim American Society (a de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and which has expressed support for suicide operations) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development Hamas money laundering case).

The killed story appears to be an attempt to use information gathered in the discovery process to smear Steve Emerson publicly, after the legal attempt failed. But in the end they found nothing. That it boomeranged proves Islamist groups and their supporters continue to rely on fabrications and deception about Steve Emerson and other critics. This time they were caught.

Event Transcript and Related Links: "Meta-Terror: Terrorism and the Virtual World"

The following is a transcript of the event, beginning with introductions of the panelists and continuing through their remarks (edited for grammar and using the panelists’ written remarks when available), and including the attendees’ questions and the panelists’ answers.

Panel Introductions by Andrew Cochran: Good afternoon and welcome to this panel titled, “MetaTerror: Terrorism and the Virtual World.” I am Andrew Cochran, Co-Chairman of the Counterterrorism Foundation and Founder & Site Editor of the Counterterrorism Blog, and I am the moderator for today’s panel. The Counterterrorism Blog (at http://Counterterrorismblog.Org) was the first multi-expert website dedicated solely to terrorism events and counterterrorism policies. I want to thank Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, for allowing us to use this room today, and want to thank his staff, Jake Olcott and Galen Bean, for their assistance. We appreciate the co-sponsorship of the GAGE International consulting firm and the NEFA Foundation.

Now, the standard disclaimer: None of the presentations here today represent the official views of the organizations represented; they are purely the personal views of the individuals making the presentations.

The virtual world is just another battlefield for terrorists. The headlines explode with the results of their successful preparation and exploitation. We chronicle numerous terrorists’ statements and directions on the Counterterrorism Blog, such as transcripts of tapes from Al Qaeda leaders and the propaganda and recruitment materials generated for terrorists worldwide. Our panelists today are among the leading experts in the world on the next generation of the terrorists’ use of the virtual world: Kenneth Silva, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for VeriSign; Roderick Jones, Vice President of Concentric Solutions International and former member of the UK’s Special Branch; and Evan Kohlmann, Senior Investigator for the NEFA Foundation. Roderick and Evan double as Contributing Experts for the Counterterrorism Blog, and Evan is one of our “originals” when we began over three years ago. Each will have 20 minutes to discuss a particular angle, and then we’ll go to questions. I’ll give brief introductions of the panelists.

Ken Silva oversees VeriSign’s infrastructure for protecting billions of interactions every day across the world’s voice and data networks. He also oversees the management of two of the world’s 13 Internet root servers and coordinates security oversight of the system that protects the majority of secure Web sites on the Internet, including 93 percent of the Fortune 500 sites. He serves on the board of directors for the IT-ISAC, is the Chairman of the Board of the Internet Security Alliance, and advises and participates at the highest levels in a number of national and international committees for organizations.

Roderick Jones works daily at the intersection of technology, security and innovation at Concentric Solutions. Roderick wrote a concept paper on the use of Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMPORGs) by terrorists, which I posted on March 1, 2007. That post drew considerable reaction in the broader tech community, which eventually led me to invite him to join us last fall.

Evan Kohlmann is consistently cited as one of the leading experts in the world on terrorists’ use of the Internet, most recently in a new report by the East-West Institute. Evan has spent a decade tracking Al-Qaida and other terrorists, interviewed prominent Al-Qaida spokesmen, and amassed one of the largest databases in the world of terrorist communiqués and multimedia. He has served as a private consultant in terrorism matters for intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world. He has also testified numerous times as an expert witness in terrorism trials in several countries, including this week in the Abu-jihaad trial in Connecticut, which he will discuss today. It has become almost amusing to read the motions repeatedly filed by defense attorneys to disqualify him from testifying; they all use the same arguments, they always fail, and they keep beating their heads against the wall.

We’ll start with Kenneth Silva.

Kenneth Silva:

What I think we’re going to spend a fair amount of time talking about today is not the physical threat of terrorism but the potential side effects and threats we face from having such an interconnected world. Its no doubt we understand how much more connected we are today, how much more connected we are than even a couple years ago. Every device we have today is connected in some form or fashion. If not, we complain about it and wait for the next version to come out. the I-Pod is an interesting example there.

With that becomes a lot of horsepower in the hand, in the home and in the office. We used to measure threats and attacks in cyberspace in the megabits or the tens of megabits and we thought that was a big deal and a big threat. But know this – the threats that took down much of the infrastructure In Estonia were only tens of megabits in size and in fact were only one one-hundredth of the size of the threats that companies like mine face on a daily basis. Tens of gigabits a day is a normal average.

There are a number of weapons available to what we would call a cyber terrorist and there would be a debate over what a cyber terrorist is, because they don’t have to fall in an infrastructure like al Qaeda or Hezbollah.

The internet enables people who otherwise would not become activists or terrorist to become one relatively easily, with some sophisticated weaponry available to them, which is not as difficult to find as something like uranium or dynamite. If any of you in this room wanted to obtain weapons to take down cyber infrastructures in the world, it wouldn’t be that difficult, you would just need a little money and time.

There are an estimated two million machines which are available as bot-networks that are shared or sold as portion of networks to each other.

The infrastructure has recently become an interesting target for attacker, the reason why is because its often times where the least amount of investment is made in corporations. Corporations and big companies and governments tend to put most of their capital investment in the content to their users and not the infrastructure its delivered upon. Even our own federal government computer systems are vulnerable to attack from a variety of sources. And not just direct attacks at the website, but on the infrastructure such as the domain name system.

More recently, we have seen just how fragile this network can be, the reality is that most of the interconnected routers on the internet itself are actually formed based on a bunch of informal agreements, handshakes or virtual handshakes over the level of security used between the two routers.

This is never more evident than the example of Pakistan directing all of you-tubes network to Pakistan.
This was done quite simply, Pakistan wanted to tell all of its constituents that you-tube existed somewhere in Pakistan and they just ground those packets and send them into the ether. But they told the whole world that, and the whole world believed them, including you-tube.

So for about two hours the most heavily used site on the internet – I’m not saying this is a terrorist attack but that by accident things like this happen, and if people wanted to do something like redirect you-tube, which is heavily fortified – because of all of these informal arrangements, people could simply whisper along that this is where You-Tube is and it could propagate along the whole internet, and no one router questioned this.

So this is a very telling take to the state of the infrastructure today, and its not just things you consider to be internet infrastructures, we tend to look at the internet as something that grew up from emails and websites and instant messages. But the reality is that infrastructures that had nothing to do with the internet, and spent the last decades or centuries growing up independent of the internet, are now migrating in mass with millions of users and pieces of infrastructure, like railways, air traffic control, power grid systems and telephony and television systems. So they are bringing with them a more connected world which we consider to be a very good thing, which is a good thing for consumers in terms of our lifestyles, but it also places us at a level of vulnerability that we don’t fully understand. Because of these interconnections you may not be aware of, when disruptions happen on the internet, when you think it may have some disruptions from a convenience standpoint, the reality is it could have a much bigger effect. Twice recently we’ve had some power outages, one a few years ago in NYC and one recently in Florida, where something seemingly small actually caused millions of citizens to be without power. If that can happen in a power grid that is a 100 years old, imagine what can happen to a relatively new infrastructure like the internet. The reality is that underdeveloped nations are actually building better infrastructures in their country than we have here. That’s because they didn’t have one before and they are using the latest technology. If you look back at these Estonia attacks, they weren’t that well organized, but organized enough to target critical infrastructure and create financial disruptions throughout the whole country for telephony systems, power, and most of the citizens weren’t even aware of how connected they were and this isn’t even a developed country by our standards.

These attacks actually had less bandwidth targeting the victim than many users in the US have at their home today. With the bandwidth being used today, Verizon does a great job of this, you can get tens of millions of megabits directed at your house, imagine that much bandwidth directed at our military structure or power infrastructure at the right time of the day, or directed at the financial markets. Imagine the disruption that would cause.

This is not unthinkable, a few years ago Richard Clarke sat in front of congress and spoke about a “cyber pearl harbor.” I don’t think he was that far off base then. Attempts have been made to make that happen a couple of times. The internet root servers that really house the master directory of how you find websites, have been attacked a number of times, last time in October of 2002, which we thought then was the largest attack to ever attack the internet, which was a 4 gigabit attack and at the time we thought it was a pretty big deal. But then in 2006 our servers were attacked with 15 gigabits per second. Couple this with a growth trajectory with a 100% growth every 14 months, with the normal volume you would process. So this is an infrastructure challenge just with the growth of cyberspace itself. The trend isn’t going to go down, once you get on the internet you don’t get off, you stay there. We don’t have a renewal rate problem on the internet.

When you have explosive growth and you see India for example, which has 40 million users but a population of a billion, their penetration is relatively low. In the United States we have a relatively high penetration of users but people come on the internet for a variety of reasons and the next thing you know they are sharing information, and we have been able to watch over the last few years people who have relatively little sophistication, who have become major players in cyber attacks within a few months. They bought the capability, learned how, and then did the attacks.

In 2006 one person was able to successfully launch 1,006 attacks on the internet. One individual did this in six weeks and was never caught. Even organized crime today is realizing it is more profitable and safer to participate in cyber crime such as credit card fraud, ID theft and extortion, simply because it is more difficult to be caught, simpler to execute and far more effective.

I’ll leave you with this. We have few examples we can attribute to actual terrorist activity that were targeting specifically pieces of our nation’s infrastructure, but we do have examples of people with a motivated cause that have caused significant disruption. Estonia is one example; the other example is attacks on significant US websites following the capture of a P-3 in China, and recently a number of Muslims committed attacks because of the characters of Muhammad being shown.

The attack in Estonia, this is the first global case if you will of cyber warfare, which at the time it was believed was carried out by one nation against another. But I can tell you in a lot of the Eastern European and Asian countries it is difficult to carry out significant activities without the knowledge of the government because you can’t consume that much bandwidth without someone noticing it.

Roderick Jones:

I’m breaking one of my most cherished maxims today, which is listening to someone in a suit considered to be an expert …I’ll work around that.

(Moderator’s Note: You can view Roderick’s PowerPoint presentation, “Visualization of Terrorism,” as a video at YouTube.)

The first thing is; why am I talking about this subject, why do I care about it? From my experience you didn’t have to speak Arabic in the mid 90’s to know that terrorism had shifted its focus and you don’t have to write code to understand that has changed again. I am interested in the virtualization of terrorism.

I think the best way to define what I am going to talk about is to start by what I am not talking about. I am not discussing the terrorist use of computer games, cyber-attacks or even the Internet. I will be referring to cyberspaces or cyberspace.

Let me pause to define what I mean.

I am going to use the definition arrived at by Lawrence Lessig (the Stanford Law professor) who is probably the best thinker regarding the implications of virtualization. The Internet in Lessig’s definition is a medium of communication where mostly trivial but increasingly important tasks are completed – paying bills, getting the news, using email and IM. These things are important in the sense that they make life easier but they are not important in that they don’t change how people live – they are not a paradigm shift in human society. Cyberspace by contrast is not just about making life easier – it is about making life different and hopefully better. It calls to life a way of interacting that was not possible before. Communities have always existed so that isn’t new it is the difference in degree, which is. The ability to form communities across borders and boundaries, with regulation, only from the code written by the creator of the space. It is the code and how it interacts with these societies that Lessig is interested in as a constitutionalist it is the development of cyber-space extremist and terrorist communities that I am interested in. Therefore, for the purposes of today I am going to present some ideas about how these societies may develop – the key thing being the existence of geographically distributed communities bought together in cyberspace.

So what I briefly intend to do is stop in at the current situation as it relates to the cyberspace examining why, in particular, virtual worlds are potentially appealing to terrorists and then project forward and offer some ideas as to what might happen next.

On a side-note one of the interesting things about the Counterterrorism Blog is that we can now open source out ideas about terrorism and that wasn’t possible in the 90’s. If I prove to be insane you can prove me insane and I’m ok with that.

As you are probably more than aware virtual worlds hit the big-time media wise in 2006 as Second Life was widely reported upon by the mainstream media. Second Life had and has two key features that attracted the hyperbole, you can make real money there and it isn’t about anything – just a virtual life.

Virtual worlds aren’t a new thing they have a lineage going through MUD (Multi User Dungeons) to LambdaMoo to World of Warcraft. They existed with a strong gaming element but Second Life pulls together the other strand of virtual communities represented by the WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic link) this was the creation of Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant and was a virtual community talking to each other on early message boards.

I personally became interested in Second Life and virtual worlds after reading the economist Edward Castonova’s ‘The Economies of Synthetic Worlds’ which sounds very dry but it probably one of the best works on the subject. In this book he made very brief mention of the potential for terrorists to use virtual worlds. Given my background I thought this interesting to say the least and took a look. I joined the virtual world and after initial skepticism became absorbed – probably a little too much.

It occurred to me that certain key features of the world would be appealing to terrorists and would give them an advantage, Finance, Recruitment, Training, Community/Market Place for ideas.

The training aspect is the one people have most trouble with but e-learning in second life has proven to be very effective -a number of Universities have held classes. Also virtual worlds have been adopted as training vehicles by US government through Forterra Systems. The scenario I considered was of an expert bomb maker conducting a virtual lecture with his students all present and able to ask questions and check their knowledge and virtually manipulate the necessary parts. Recruitment is also a potential development but that relies on there being only one virtual world, which isn’t the case but multi-operability of avatars seems like reasonable future assumption (IBM have talked with Linden Lab to do this).

Finally community: the virtual community is as powerful as the real one and the ability to converse in a secure space with a globally dispersed audience seemed like a compelling use for the technology. It also allows radicals to connect to resources they otherwise would not have access to such as hackers and people managing bot-networks (two resources I discovered).

Let me pause a minute to cover financing.

One of the key features that have draw participants into the current wave of virtual worlds is the ability to conduct in-world transactions in a virtual currency that can then be exchanged for US $ or other regional currencies. The first iteration of this practice was the trading of in-world currencies for real currencies on ebay. This trade in in-world currencies – most prominently World of Warcraft gold – indirectly led to a number of innovations. The ability to calculate an exchange rate for virtual currencies as well as the arrival of a new kind of worker – gold farmers. As virtual worlds developed the desire to have a virtual currency pegged to real-world currencies led to the feature being built into the games. Therefore virtual currencies such as the Linden dollar and Entropia Universe PEDs, and There bucks are now easily translated to real-world currencies. While all these systems are ultimately pegged to some form of supervision (usually via paypal and credit cards) they can function as an Alternative Remittance system, which bypasses regulatory mechanisms for sums under approximately $500 USD.

While the accounts paypal or otherwise are ultimately linked to credit cards or bank accounts in lower regulatory environments these can be fabricated. As of early 2007 Linden Lab was suffering from large-scale credit card abuse to buy currency — therefore, this is a clear possibility.

A typical example would be an exchange of funds between two avatars. Avatar 1 is resident in a high regulatory banking regime and avatar 2 is resident in a low regulatory regime. Avatar 2 in the low regulatory regime buys $100 of currency and passes it ‘in-game’ to Avatar 1 who removes his money from the game in the high regulatory banking system. Thus bypassing banking controls on the transfer of money.

A second example would involve Avatar 2 buying virtual land or some other valuable commodity using his low-regulatory currency and then giving or trading this commodity to Avatar 2 in the higher-regulatory authority.

Finally, Avatar 2 could but virtual currency using his banking regime and then exchange that currency for another virtual currency using virtual currency traders. This currency could then be given to avatar 1 to withdraw in his regulatory environment. Adding a further layer to the transfer.

In all these examples multiple – anonymous avatars – could be inserted into the process to further muddy the trail.

This system is better suited to smaller amounts of money and therefore, would be more likely of use to terrorists than to large organized crime groups seeking to launder large amounts of cash.

On finance there is a lot of disagreement, a lot of people say this can’t happen because this is always linked back to real world action, taking money out with a credit card or bank. But false credit cards and banks are relatively easy to do.

Those were my thoughts almost two years ago but as with all things in technology things move quickly and it seemed increasingly likely that terrorists wouldn’t adopt a system like second life but develop in different ways. Some of the key features I believe they would look for (and I believe this reflects their adoption of the 2-D web) are; Security, Ease of use and Cultural appropriateness.

So not too dissimilar to what an American teen is looking for when they enter a virtual world.

So it is possible to suggest that terrorist adoption of virtual worlds will mirror the adoption of virtual worlds by the wider community.

(Moderator’s Note: See Roderick’s concept paper on the use of Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMPORGs) by Terrorists, posted on March 1, 2007 on the Counterterrorism Blog. That post drew considerable reaction in the broader tech community, resulting in a follow-up on March 12, 2007.)

So as the space is now moving toward single interest or specific culturally themed worlds so will terrorists. Where we have Barbie World or Red Light Center, they will seek and create jihadiworld and this is where it gets interesting.

There are currently a number of v-world platforms – mostly EU or USA based. However, China is seeking to enter the marker with HiPiHi and I am sure there are other culturally specific v-worlds in development. This of course brings in the issue of jurisdiction. While all the worlds are in friendly jurisdictions then things such as gambling can be removed from the worlds. Or if a national security agency wanted details on an account it could apply to the company to get it. This of course is a wider topic but I highlight it here, as there is the potential for a v-world to spring up in say Russia and this requires a different mind-set to collect intelligence.

If jihadi world were to come about its makers would attempt to place its servers out of legal reach.

I then thought through with Michael Schrage was the layering of a virtual world over a bot-net network. This seemed like the ultimate in v-world security. Putting up a virtual world for 72-hours prior to an attack to rehearse and organize seemed like the ultimate just-in-time solution. We called this jihadi nets.

Finally, if you take this progression to its conclusion you get to the final virtualization of terrorism whereby terrorist groups form in virtual worlds and do not conduct real-life attacks. They form over a ‘virtual issue’ say the imposition of tax systems into virtual worlds and use cyber-resources to disrupt their targets. This is some way off from being a serious threat.

Therefore once you move away from the idea that there will be an electronic trail of evidence you can collect in an Internet monitoring way you have to think of other ways to do it. Once jihadiworlds start being built different collection rules apply.

So what can we do about it? At the moment I don’t have the answer to that. One of the main problems with terrorists becoming virtualized is that they are taking on the properties of the Internet, rapid growth and innovation. One of the ideas I had is that tech companies doing this work should crash test their products for nasty side effects. Not sure how that would work but they could think about it. On the positive side is the open source thinking about these subjects. In Second Life extremists have been chased out of there, when white hate groups joined, people organized to kick them out, so maybe counterterrorism responses will just be in the hands of the people of the virtual worlds world.

I have talked a lot about virtual worlds but the subject was the virtualization of terrorism but this is a wider problem than virtual worlds. There are other tools that can be picked up now – we all know about google earth but it is the themes prevalent in tech now that can be manipulated – mash-ups and layering social networking over the top of other platforms. On e of the best examples of a recent tool which would be no doubt of use to terrorists is – Photosynth. All of these tools and techniques are eventually going to be adopted by terrorists and there-in lies the danger.

Evan Kohlmann:

- Discussion Forums

What do the forums do – Al-Hesbah, Ekhlaas, Al-Boraq, Al-Firdaws

Over the past three years, these extremist forums have not only been used as a cover for Al-Qaida’s propaganda war—but moreover, they have evolved into a disturbing MySpace-like social-networking hub for homegrown extremists around the world intent on becoming the next generation of terrorists, hijackers, and even suicide bombers.

In the same way that traditional terrorist training camps once served as beacons for would-be jihadists, online support forums such as Al-Hesbah and Al-Ekhlaas now operate as black holes in cyberspace, drawing in and indoctrinating sympathetic recruits, teaching them basic military skills, and providing a web of social contacts that bridges directly into the ranks of Al-Qaida. Rather than simply using the web as a weapon to destroy the infrastructure of their enemies, Al-Qaida is using it instead as a logistical tool to revolutionize the process of terrorist enlistment and training.

How do we really know that these discussion forums are significant?

On June 30, 2007, a dark green Jeep Cherokee carrying gas and propane canisters crashed into the main entrance of the Glasgow International Airport. According to eyewitnesses, a man later identified as Dr. Bilal Abdullah climbed out of the wreck and began fighting with police, throwing desperate punches, and repeatedly proclaiming religious slogans. Abdullah and another doctor were also responsible for a failed car bomb attack on central London the day before. Though Abdullah is never conclusively linked to Al-Qaida, he was no stranger to law enforcement. Long before his bizarre performance in Glasgow, he had managed to attract official interest because of his online activities on the At-Tibyan Publications Internet web forum.

At-Tibyan Publications, an online extremist support network based in the United Kingdom, has gradually taken over as the premier source of English-language terrorist propaganda. Rather than merely translating news reports or offering background on particular military operations, At-Tibyan has focused on distributing ideological material designed to convince likeminded individuals to sacrifice their lives in the cause of jihad. In fact, most of the material produced by At-Tibyan offered little in the way of public interest value—it would only be of use to someone with a genuine, deep-rooted interest in participating in violent jihad—such as English-language copies of Youssef al-Ayyiri’s “Islamic Ruling on the Permissibility of Self-Sacrificial Operations.”

During a recent security operation, the SO-15 Counter Terrorism Command in the United Kingdom confiscated saved transcripts of discussions that had taken place the At-Tibyan online discussion forum: “…various members discussing their religion. One, an Ibn El Sheikh talks about being famous when he has gone… long heated discussions between the following users, Abu Dujanah, al-Muwahhid, c4explosive re: killing women and children.”

IRHABY007 – MUNTADA AL-ANSAR

The already notorious role of Irhaby 007 as a key Al-Qaida media coordinator paled in comparison to his parallel, more covert identity as a virtual “matchmaker”—connecting aspiring homegrown terrorists with official handlers from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s network in Iraq. In December 2004, a flurry of messages were exchanged back and forth regarding a Moroccan jihadi recruit known as “Abu Abdullah al-Ansari” who had traveled with a companion to Syria in hopes of crossing the Iraqi border and joining Al-Qaida. Lacking any connection of his own, al-Ansari sent digital messages to Irhaby 007 begging him for assistance in making contact with Al-Qaida: “I want to remind you that we two would like to depart to the land of Jihad. We await your call as though on the hottest of embers.”

After making a series of online inquiries with Al-Qaida, Irhaby 007 was greeted with a quick response: “we were not aware of the arrival of al-Ansari until today, and with Allah’s permission everything will be fine… First, send me his address and how we can get there and how to recognize him. What is the brother’s nationality and the number of the passport he used to get into Damascus, so that I can send someone to fetch him, Allah willing?” Upon learning that a deal had been successfully brokered on his behalf, al-Ansari became ecstatic and declared in a reply to Irhaby 007, “Praise be to Allah, We are going to go in over there at the time when the Sheikh Osama has given the official attestation to the amir ab[u] mouss[ab al-Zarqawi]… Allah be praised… The timing couldn’t be better for us!!!” When al-Ansari grew impatient after failing to hear from his assigned Al-Qaida handlers in Damascus, he again wrote to Irhaby 007, insisting, “it is extremely urgent. the brothers have contacted us here for us to leave and they have asked us to wait for 2 to 3 hours. It’s now 6 hours and we have no news. We tried to call on the telephone but nobody answers. Brother, I fear they have gone back [to Iraq] without taking us. Brother, you must contact them—it is imperative that you contact them and ask them what is going on. By Allah, it is serious, we have taken the bags [and] we can’t go back.”

On August 27, 2007, the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) posted a message titled “The Martyrs Keep Marching On,” in which it announced that Abu ‘Abdallah Al-Maqdisi, the webmaster of the key jihadist web forum Al-Nusra Al-Jihadiya, had been killed in Nahr Al-Bared in Lebanon.

“The GIMF announces to the Islamic nation, and in particular to the youth of the jihadist media, that our brother… Abu ‘Abdallah Al-Maqdisi, webmaster of the Al-Nusra Al-Jihadiyya network, has been killed by the Crusader army in the refugee camp of Nahr Al-Bared… In addition to his membership… in the Global Islamic Media Front, and [to his role as] webmaster of the Al-Nusra Al-Jihadiyya network, this martyr ran a jihadi website, participated in numerous forums… and supported the jihad and the jihad fighters. He died at the age of 23 – young in years, but old in deeds… As for you, the enemies of Islam, be prepared for dark days – so dark that they will cause you to forget the [exploits] of Irhabi 007 and others. We swear that from us you will see nothing but harm and actions that will drive you mad.”

This isn’t just a “European problem” – it is an American one too.

Harnessing the power of popular Internet chat forums, Younis Tsouli’s entrepreneurial terrorist network was similarly able to extend into Canada—where it became interlinked with a homegrown cell of aspiring militants that has become referenced in subsequent press accounts as the ‘Toronto 17.’”

ClearGuidance.com was initially founded by a 23-year-old resident of Houston, Texas: Pakistani-American Sarfaraz Jamal (known online as “Sasjamal”). In 2006, Jamal was finally forced to shut down ClearGuidance.com and its infamous chat forum when “it grew out of control” and was allegedly used by the “Toronto 17” to help plan their intended wave of terror attacks.

The latter group was allegedly making its own independent preparations for a large-scale terrorist attack in southern Ontario, which was intended to include detonating truck bombs in at least two locations in Canada and firing weapons in a crowded area. Police charges also detail plans by the homegrown Toronto cell to storm various buildings such as the Canadian Broadcasting Center, the Canadian Parliament building, and the headquarters of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in order to seize hostages. The “Toronto 17” conspirators included a former Canadian soldier who had converted to Islam and at least eight of the men were under the age of 21. While a handful of the suspects had become naturalized citizens after emigrating from abroad, most of them were native Canadian nationals well-known in their local communities.

But the Toronto plotters were not the only would-be terrorists making use of the opportunity provided by ClearGuidance.com. Other ClearGuidance users boasted in private conversations of carrying out suicide attacks on their own aimed at “soft targets” in Western countries: “remember 10 of us can take around 200. Numbers don’t mean a thing… what I want to do is cause trouble for kuffar [infidels] by hit and runs, everywhere, cause fear and panic in their countries.”

These ClearGuidance users were intent upon gathering detailed charts and technical data on a long list of potential terror targets.

When ClearGuidance.com was abruptly shuttered in June 2006, Houston resident Sarfaraz Jamal soon reconstituted his ongoing Internet project under a new name, “The Islamic Network.” Despite its innocuous title, the chat forum on IslamicNetwork.com was used to republish countless English-language translations of propaganda and instructional documentation originally released by Al-Qaida and other terror groups.

In September 2005, the IslamicNetwork.com forum offered the translation of an interview with Saudi Al-Qaida commander Abdelaziz al-Muqrin originally published in Sawt al-Jihad Magazine—wherein al-Muqrin is quoted: “Iraq is a battlefront… and likewise there are other battlefronts for the Muslims. And by the will of Allah, the Americans won’t decide anything as long as we twinkle and as long as we live. We will make them taste disasters… Tandhim ul-Qa’idah is a ‘Jihadi Group’ that is widespread across the globe, an Islamic army, and the Ummah’s hope… it is the army that will demolish the bedfellow of The Crusaders and the Jews in the entire world. It will destroy their castles and towers By the Will of Allah… He lengthens our age so that we can enrage the enemies and slaughter them and to plunge the sword into them.”

Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that the “Islamic Network” forum has recently been labeled by the Houston Chronicle simply as “a Web site frequented by terrorism suspects.”

One of those who helped Jamal to co-found the “Islamic Network” was former Houston-area resident and Islamic convert Daniel Maldonado (a.k.a. Daniel al-Jughaifi).

Even while living abroad in Egypt, Maldonado played an active, day-to-day role in running the website, boasting of his title as “Islamic Network Super mod[erator] and Islamic Network Office Manager.”

In early 2007, after a period of absence in his online activities, Maldonado was suddenly caught by Kenyan army soldiers while fleeing from nearby Somalia. Upon being interviewed by FBI agents, he admitted to fighting alongside the Somali Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and receiving specialized training in assembling improvised explosive devices. According to an FBI affidavit filed in his case, Maldonado further “identified certain members at the [training] camp as being al Qaeda.”

Back on IslamicNetwork.com chat forums, remaining website administrators responded openly to Maldonado’s arrest on terrorism charges, making little effort to downplay his role in the “Islamic Network”: “daniel was an amazing brother who worked for us – he made some really beneficial posts for a while (part of his work to bring benefit to the forums), handled info box, etc. – but was so dedicated to IN – he also updated the news, etc. his family was our family and vice versa.”

Another IslamicNetwork.com user wrote back, “Subhanallah! Is it just me, or is every mod[erator] and person associated with the forum bein[g] arrested???”

Questions & Answers

Andrew Cochran: My concern and expertise, going back to when I worked on the Hill for the House Financial Services Committee, is the financing aspect. If you saw Dennis Lormel’s post yesterday on the Counterterrorism Blog – Dennis directed the investigation into the financing of the 9/11 attacks for the FBI – he wrote about terrorists using credit cards to gain financing to conduct attacks. He mentioned the case in Indonesia, where Imam Samudra, the mastermind of the Bali bombing, wrote in his autobiography a chapter titled, “Hacking, Why not” He described our computer networks to be vulnerable to hacking, credit card fraud and money laundering. It didn’t focus on specific techniques, but on how to find techniques on the internet and how to connect with people in chat rooms to perfect hacking and carding skills. So I wanted to ask our experts if there is some system available that we could institute that would guarantee that personally identifiable info could be taken out of databases so that a dedicated knowledgeable hacker could not access those. And if that technology exists, why isn’t it feasible to mandate its use for all systems so that person identity information isn’t stored on databases?

Kenneth Silva: There are a lot of technologies out there that offer some level of protection either by tokenizing the data, but the data must exist somewhere, it may not be at the institution that is compromised but it exists somewhere. It’s difficult to get everyone on the same sheet when dealing with personal information. There have been strides made through the credit card companies, which required data to be stored a specific way. There have been issues, states required information to be handled in a specific way. We are moving in the right direction but it’s difficult to get every company to get on the same standard overnight, eventually we’ll get there and some of it may come from compliance or it may come from something horrible happening and someone has to do something about it. For example, stolen laptops have become a big deal, and we keep finding instances where laptops stolen had up to 200 thousand people’s personal information on it. And those regulations to stop things like that only come the day after the theft happens. And not unlike many other things it always takes until something has personally happened to you before you do something about it.

Roderick Jones: Anonymity has been a key feature in gaming. Everyone is anonymous and everyone accepts that. In the early virtual communities they were very specific in people being themselves and being real. But when these two things merged in Second Life, your identity at first had to be verified and they changed that in 2006 and that changed the nature of the virtual world itself. Hackers could open anonymous accounts. Once you have that anonymity you open it to it being misused. How you verify people’s identities is an interesting question, how do you verify people’s identities on screens.

Evan Kohlmann: I would add that it is a very big problem. Identity theft is a lot bigger problem than people would guess. When terrorists can’t get their hands on credit card numbers they will turn to stolen identities. Younis Tsouli was a master at that, and had thousands of stolen credit card numbers which he used to register websites and buy stolen goods and gave them out to others. And it’s interesting he didn’t get all of this info himself, he brokered some of it with people from Russia and traded this info with criminal syndicates. It’s a matter of protecting our data period, because once it gets into the hands of criminal syndicates it can get to terrorists.

Roderick Jones: In the 90’s al Qaeda would just steal a handbag in London to get one credit card to raise funds. Now it’s a huge difference in scale, they will just buy this data online and get thousands of credit card details. The scale aspect of the internet applies to this.

Andrew Cochran: I would note that there is a news article from Princeton that talked about a simple way of getting encrypted data on a hard drive once the laptop is stolen.

Question: Theoretically, a various third party could tell one botnet to attack another country and wind up with a “who-did it?” phenomenon, is that is a possibility at all?

Kenneth Silva: In the virtual world there are no boundaries, there are no borders or metal detectors for your packets to go through, no passports, but to get one country frustrated with another and get their citizens motivated to direct attacks is so easy to do today. A lot of people individually may not even realize the full extent of what they are actually doing. They may just think they are creating an annoyance, but when they are all put together, the attacks generated 50 gigabits of bandwidth at our servers a year ago, each one of the servers used, there were 35 thousand servers used in one of the attacks, but those 35 thousand machines used, each one of them only sent data at 4kb a second, which is less bandwidth than your phone can generate. But now the tools to execute an attack can be executed from literarily, an I-Phone.

Andrew Cochran: When we did stories on the “cartoon jihad” on the Counterterrorism Blog, we suffered periodic outages due to attacks from various countries, and there were a number of sites that had the same problem and were down for a period of time. This is something we deal with every day.

Question: Do you think there is something qualitatively different, about the internet. Could you do the same thing with cell phones?

Roderick Jones: I think there is something different. In a 3-D environment you can get so much more information, scale is an aspect but also just geographic dispersion and the ability to meet online. So there is a huge qualitative difference between phones, email, and the virtual world. Also there is evidence that the virtual world is compelling psychologically to the people in them as well.

Evan Kolhmann: Two aspects stand out in my mind that differentiate phones from online, the first being security. Phones are insecure, you might be recorded and you can’t do much about it if you have a wiretap on your line. With the internet you can use many different techniques that make your communication undecipherable. It’s not because of the actual encryption but the medium itself. First of all, to get the line of communication you have to find it and that’s not so easy. Also, the issue of internet discussion forums rather than email, there is a huge difference between two people talking about an issue and ten people talking about an issue. Group mentality, peer pressure, these things come into play where people feel like they are part of an organization, part of something larger than themselves, part of a virtual project. That sense of affiliation goes a long way to making people feel like what they are doing is important and meaningful.

Kenneth Silva: To add to that – the first is that from a tracking and detection standpoint, phone calls are much, much easier to track. You could even go back to the old days of law enforcement bugging a phone at someone’s house. There are about 2 billion calls made a day in North America and there are 200 billion internet transactions done in North America in the same day. If you ever saw the Disney cartoon of Goofy who got behind the wheel of a car, and how different he was from his normal day-to-day self. This is the same with being online, people feel and act completely different when they are online than face-to-face. They are bolder, braver and in many cases more obnoxious. You talk to people in real life and then you read an email from someone and you think they’re a real jerk.

Roderick Jones: That happens in Second Life, people take the position of the thing they can’t be in the real world.

Question: I wanted to ask the panelist whether this hasn’t been an intelligence bonanza?

Evan Kohlmann: it would be great if this was all being monitored, but there isn’t an effective efficient process to catch it all. Someone asked me if it’s better to leave them up or shut them down? My answer is that if we have a very efficient process, if law enforcement and intelligence is doing its job to monitor these websites then keeping them up is great. My problem is that, and I say generally keep them online, but the caveat is that there has to be an efficient process to monitor what is going on, on these particular forums. There are particular internet sites and places where terrorist gather online which are being watched by the government like hawks. And it has produced demonstrable results. On the other hand there are cases of Irhabi 007, where if I hadn’t provided a lot of the evidence for the case it might not have been prosecuted. The only person who had records for his internet forum, was me. So leave them online and use them, but if it’s going to be a half hearted effort its not good.

Question: Follow up, on training I thought one of the 7/21 people had been at a camp, and I am skeptical that you can make an IED over the internet.

Evan Kohlmann: There is one case of someone who procured over the internet a video of how to build a suicide bomb vest. There’s other instances where people tried and failed miserably. Some people will try to make bombs and end up missing fingers and will regret it. But if you get someone with a general level of technological savvy, there are ways of building bombs which can cause a lot of damage. This is a bad example because it failed, but if you look at Glasgow and London, I’ve seen the actual devices. It was a joke, and the fact that Doctors built that device is sad, and it doesn’t say much about the British medical system. We cannot count though on all of these guys being morons and lunatics.

Question: Maybe they aren’t all morons, maybe it’s not impossible.

Evan Kohlmann: If you take a look at the martyrdom operation vest preparation video, originally produced by Hezbollah, extremely professional, it lays out the exact details not only how to produce the explosives but also how to detonate it to produce the maximum amount of damage. I’m not going to say the next Ramzi Yousef or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be homegrown and will be the next bomb maker extraordinaire, but there is enough info for someone who is a little tech savvy with a background in engineering, you can definitely build something, it may not be an a bomb, but if you look at Glasgow you know that all it takes is the intent. Sometimes all it takes is a green jeep loaded with gas and propane canisters and someone willing to set themselves on fire. It wasn’t 9/11, but look at the disruption it caused, five or six weeks later the airport at Glasgow as like a bomb zone.

Andrew Cochran: The Oklahoma City bombers weren’t experts either.

Roderick Jones: The real answer is why not try it, with intelligence agencies in the West they can try it and see if it can be done.

Question: I think the last point you made, which scares me is the increasingly reliance on the internet. Worse than a pipe bomb is a terrorist learning the information that could take down a satellite control infrastructure. How far off is that?

Andrew Cochran: And also, how do you protect the internet from that happening?

Kenneth Silva: If you divide the actors here into three categories, the people who do this for prowess, and they want to brag about it, they’ll hack until they accomplish that trick. Then there are people who want to do harm, the terrorists. Then there are the state sponsors, these people pose a different kind of threat, they don’t like to do noisy stuff because there are consequences with the small stuff and thus they are on their best behavior. But those people are more apt to go after a satellite infrastructure because they know in a real world war that would be critical. I’m not convinced though that a terrorist or activist group would take out a satellite, it might even effect their own communications. They could launch a worm though that deletes those systems.

Those of us that operate this infrastructure, every ISP and DNS provider, we all have to recognize the full scope of the threats we face, big or small, and make the investment. It’s not an easy thing to do, it’s easy to just say we need to do it. I had to go to my CEO and say I need to spend enough money so that I can have 150 times more capacity than we need to do business. You get funny looks when you make requests like that. You start looking at telecom companies and people who have razor small margins, and ask them to make huge increased investments in infrastructure. It’s tough but all of us who operate those pieces, and that includes you as well who operate computers at home. The biggest weakness we have in our system sits between the keyboard and the back of the chair. It is how most of the nefarious software gets in.

Question: You’ve got a lot of complicated technology in this, but I wondered if you could talk about what is the policy side. How is the government, perhaps intelligence communities responding to these challenges? What is the direction, do we see recognition and thus policy direction? What is the status or state of these challenges?

Kenneth Silva: I’m glad you asked that. With respect to, does law enforcement recognize the change in landscape, I think they absolutely do. The problem is that I think we established well enough that the game has changed significantly. The intelligence communities and law enforcement communities are still operating under the same rules and regulations, which are governed by congress or the federal government. They are only allowed to operate within those confines. And sometimes those confines have their hands tied with their ability to gather data.

Question: I guess what I was trying to glean is, is there any leadership to recognize these national policy considerations?

Evan Kohlmann: I was going to say that I’ve dealt with this now very intensely for the last 4 or 5 years with the United States federal government’s response to this. There were a lot of people out there who were very reluctant to accept that internet websites were the next big threat to American national security. When people heard the most important terrorist uses the name Terrorist 007, they thought this can’t be much of a problem. Ironically it happens a lot because of this Terrorist 007 case, it’s been a big wake-up call. A lot of the skeptical faces in government who thought internet terrorism was not at the top of the agenda, are now starting to realize this. It’s partly a generational thing, there are people not used to using this technology. One question that comes up a lot is – how many terrorist websites are out there? Some say there are 10 thousand out there and we can’t deal with it. Anyone who says that, ignore everything they have to say because they have no idea what they are talking about. There may be 10 thousand who support terrorist movements and points of view. In terns of ones that matter though, it’s less than ten. It’s not an unmanageable problem but you have to have people who understand it, and you have to have policy. The government agencies are only as good as the laws they are given by congress. And right now there isn’t a very large groundswell by the government of people who think that this is a problem. People still think the internet is just about dirty pictures. Until we move beyond that you won’t see much of a change.

Roderick Jones: If you think about Islamic terrorism, the key tactical change around 1996-98, the arrival of suicide terrorism, I think it is fair that it has taken ten years for the UK to adopt a response to that, pre-detention times and interdiction way further up the evidence chain. The operational response happens quicker and procedural response happens quicker but I think there will be a time lag before things catch up.

Question: This is very different to what is happening in biometrics, you have someone who moves to Egypt and they say you have to respect my privacy, and you have child pornographers who say you can’t have my password and thus can’t get the data. How are these right-to-privacy issues effecting the crackdown?

Evan Kohlmann: I haven’t verified if this is the truth but I was told by someone at CIA, and they say that a terrorist website is on an American webhost company. The CIA in that instance has legal problems in monitoring that website, because technically they aren’t supposed to monitor Americans. This is the most bizarre thing in the world, this website is run by al Qaeda, not by people in the United States, directly relevant to national security, and the CIA can’t even look at it. This goes back to policy. Most of our national security policy is attuned to an era that doesn’t exist anymore and doesn’t take into account technological advances that completely change how American national security works. This is a big problem at the FBI too with their limitations on monitoring terrorist websites. The thing is that most of what we are talking about is chat rooms that are password protected, and for law enforcement to get into this forum, they need to get a password and a long-on, and to get that they have to have been involved in the forum long beforehand. So now you have issues of the FBI subpoenaing records from ISP’s, and it’s so complicated and the law hasn’t caught up with technology.

Andrew Cochran: Welcome to the FISA debate.

Kenneth Silva: This is what I was talking about earlier. The intelligence community and law enforcement recognizes that their hands are tied in these instances and they have in the past decade, they have tried to get these laws changed and be allowed more flexibility since the internet was privatized more than a decade ago. I think President Bush was speaking on this very issue a couple of days ago about allowing the intelligence community to have more latitude and enlist the help of more people.

Roderick Jones: I think technology companies have the same problem, when does Google give out its own info? What happens when China asks for it? They need to find their own solution to this as well. They need to have clear protocols.

Evan Kohlmann: I was over in the UK a few months ago, and I had some people over there complain bitterly to me that they wanted to approach Microsoft to get records for a criminal terrorist case. They didn’t know how to get these records so they approached the DA, and apparently what the DA said was that Microsoft carries a lot of weight out here and you don’t, so if you want these records you have to get them from some federal authority because Microsoft means a lot more to me than you do. And this is people from the counterterrorism community in the UK. To get this kind of reaction is certainly disheartening, and they were asking me if that is the general policy here and I had to explain that is not the case.

Question: What, if anything, would you tell the average American what they can do to help?

Kenneth Silva: I think the biggest thing they can start doing today, is we have to accept the fact that internet security or computer security is a fact of life and you have to do it at home, it’s not just a corporate problem anymore it’s a problem at home. If you don’t do at least a minimum amount of protection of your machine it becomes a weapon that can be used and you put your own self at risk for identity theft.

Andrew Cochran: Especially with broadband, you must, must, must have your own security.

Question: Another thing is more the cultural aspect, when you are looking at websites like this how do you decide if it is legitimate, how to you say we can stop an attack early?

Evan Kohlmann: Usually it’s fairly explicit, we’re not just talking about sitting there long enough that you realize there are al Qaeda members there, but al Qaeda has actually issued communiqués. Al Hizba was attacked by individuals saying that it’s a haven for spies, so al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia said we know al Hizba very well, we trust everyone on there, and if you want info on us go there. When Zawahiri issued a question and answer session, he put four website addresses up to say that this is where you should go. In the propaganda videos they now even have instructions about what forums to go to. You have individuals who say they intend to commit suicide bombings, and its hard to believe that the person you are talking to is becoming the next suicide bomber, and the family you talk to on the phone seems to know exactly why.

Last year, I was on an English language jihadist chat forum, and someone said I think people are after me, and I wrote back sarcastically saying that Mossad was out to get you. And within 24 hours this person was arrested in Spain on terrorist related charges. So someone was after them!

There is ample, in-your-face evidence saying that the people who make and populate these websites are terrorists and the people who read this information are terrorists. I am struck at how often I think people in these rooms are just like me are in these rooms and in actually I’m in the minority.

Roderick Jones: It’s a good question, and it will always be variable and in the hands of the operational commander. There was an instance where the appeals court overturned the decision by the command to arrest people who were about to go to Afghanistan. Their hand was forced and they had to make the arrest.

Global Security Stakes in Malaysian Stability Are Substantial by Andrew Cochran

As election fever takes hold in multi-religious Malaysia, which goes to the polls tomorrow, the world has a stake in seeing that the country continues to remain a model of a moderate Muslim democracy that does not tolerate Islamist-based terrorism and integrates a multi-faith, multi-ethnic society.

While the ruling Barisan National Coalition has remained in power since Malaysia’s independence half-a-century ago from the British, balancing the relationships among the country’s multiple racial, religious and linguistic groups remains an ongoing, and delicate, process. Sixty percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people are Muslim Malays. Some 25 percent are ethnic Chinese and 7.8 percent are ethnic Indians. Sensitive issues regarding education, language and religion periodically stir racial and religious sentiment. Malaysians still remember the traumatic ethnic strife that took place in May 1969, making the goal of stability a central factor in the almost certain re-election of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

One major factor maintaining support for the Badawi government is the country’s continued strong economic growth, averaging some 6.5 percent annually for the entire 50 years since Malaysian independence. Once one of the poorest countries in the world, Malaysia is today a middle-income, multi-sector economy, one of the world’s largest exporters of semiconductor devices and information technology products. Many Malaysian voters continue to focus on rice-bowl issues – avoiding inflation and maintaining low unemployment – even as they press Mr. Badawi to continue to strengthen his initiatives to combat corruption.

But the larger issue for Malaysia and the world for the long term is whether a moderate Muslim government can use an economic and social strategy that is creating prosperity and a broad middle class as an effective counter to religious and political extremism at home and abroad.

The threat of such extremism has been real enough, especially immediately prior to Mr. Badawi’s taking office in 2003. Two of the 9/11 hijackers passed through Kuala Lumpur in January 2000, hosted by an alleged member of the Al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Two USS Cole bombing plotters also spent time in Malaysia courtesy of JI. Key figures in the Bali and the JW Marriott hotel bombings in Indonesia prepared their attacks while living in Malaysia. Malaysian police still periodically find cells linked to JI terrorists with illegal firearms and bomb making equipment or materials.

The current Badawi government in Malaysia has zero tolerance for militant or terrorist activity from whatever source. By comparison, the record of the opposition is more complex. The Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) controls one of Malaysia’s 13 states and has called for banning nightclubs and alcohol and for imposing shari’a-associated “hudud” punishments, such as amputations and stoning for certain crimes. In the city of Kota Baru in Kelantan state, governed by PAS since 1996, queues in supermarkets are by law strictly gender-segregated to prevent opposite sexes from touching and committing the Islamic “crime” of khalwat. Women are also subjected to strict Islamist dress codes.

While the vast majority of Malaysia’s people do not want this type of government, the PAS has in the past controlled a second Malaysian state, and this election season is vigorously contesting elections in five states overall. The most internationally visible leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, of the People’s Justice Party (PJP), depends on his alliance with PAS for his electoral clout, together with a left-leaning Chinese ethnic group, called DAP. By using PAS to leverage his own small political base, currently just one seat held by his wife, Ibrahim has locked himself into an alliance with a party that called for Jihad against the west following the 2001 military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and offered rhetorical support for Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime.

Balancing Malaysia’s disparate social and religious agendas continues to require great care on the part of the Badawi government, with some critics contending the government has been permitting creeping Islamicism as a sop to militants and others accusing it of not going far enough to integrate religion into the country’s governance. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan made a more positive assessment last year, when he argued that Malaysia’s “enviable system of religious pluralism” had enabled the country to build “a robust middle class, a viable social protection system and reasonably advanced human security infrastructure.” Mr. Badawi’s Malaysia, Mr. Annan said, “offers a more accessible and appropriate model for less developed countries in Africa to learn from.”

Can Mr. Badawi maintain the system extolled by Mr. Annan? As Malaysia’s voters prepare to sort out their priorities at the polls, the Badawi government appears to be seeking to steer a middle course that simultaneously is tough on terrorism, protects the special status of the majority Muslim population, and promotes economic and social opportunity for all other groups. If he can achieve these goals then he will truly merit the applause of fans like Mr. Annan.

How Apple Just Made All Other Mobile Platforms Irrelevant by Blake Spot

I was recently discussing all that has happened with the iPhone in the past week with Arn over at MacRumors. It’s pretty amazing to think about, really.

RIM, the “smartphone” industry, the PDA industry, and the handheld gaming industry just got served by Apple.

The iPhone has been out for just eight months now and has already captured 28% of the US smartphone market share (second only to RIM). It already offers, hands-down, the best web browsing experience of any such device and packs a revolutionary interface through which the whole iTunes experience can accessed anywhere, on the go. And that’s not to mention e-mail, rich mapping, YouTube — the list goes on.

But that’s really nothing compared to what’s coming in June: the iPhone 2.0 update. This free update will bring with it a host of enhancements that will turn the iPhone into the platform for the casual user, the enterprise, and the mobile gamer. Make no mistake — this is a certainty. Let me explain.

The casual user: The iPhone 2.0 update will enable users to access the iTunes App Store through which third-party applications (many of them free of charge) can be wirelessly downloaded and installed on the device. Simple, elegant. On Thursday, Apple released the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) as a free download for anyone that has a desire to create native iPhone applications. It includes an updated version of Apple’s Xcode — the most advanced development suite available for any platform today, that is able to compile native iPhone executables and run them in the included iPhone simulator. All the power and ease of use that Mac OS X developers have been enjoying for years is now available to would-be iPhone developers. Given that there are already over 1,000 iPhone Web Apps out there, the number of developers that are drooling, as I type this, at the prospect of creating far more powerful and responsive native iPhone applications is immense. And so will be the number of apps available when the 2.0 update lands.

The enterprise user: While the iPhone is exceptional for the web and offers flexible and powerful email capabilities, it currently lacks certain key capabilities that make RIM’s BlackBerry a much more compelling communications device for business. With iPhone 2.0, Apple has brought this all to the iPhone.

* Push email
* Push calendar
* Push contacts
* Global address list
* Cisco IPsec VPN
* Certificates and Identities
* WPA2 / 802.1x
* Enforced security policies
* Device configuration
* Remote wipe
* Active Sync and Microsoft Exchange support

With all of these in place, there will no longer be reason for enterprise users to be forced to endure the BlackBerry’s limitations in the name of dependence upon its particular strengths. And let’s not ignore the fact that a notable portion of the many native, third-party iPhone applications under development are geared towards the enterprise.

The mobile gamer: The Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS are the only platforms of note for gaming on the go. They’re great devices with a huge number of excellent titles for each. The PSP is notable for its high resolution screen and powerful chipset while the DS is praised for its innovative touch-screen interface. How can a phone compete with these platforms when it comes to quality games? Games on phones suck, right? Let’s take a look at a few basic specs of these devices.

* Sony PSP
o Processor: MIPS CPU @ 222 or 333MHz (selectable)
o Screen: 480×272 pixels
o Input: D-pad, analog stick

* Nintendo DS
o Processor: two ARM CPUs (67MHz and 33MHz)
o Screen: two 256×192 pixel screens
o Input: D-pad, touch-screen

* iPhone
o Processor: ARM CPU @ 620MHz
o Screen: 480×320 pixels
o Input: multitouch, accelerometer

Surprised? The iPhone has the highest resolution screen of the lot, a CPU that runs at nearly twice the clockspeed of the PSP’s, and an input system consisting of multitouch combined with accelerometers that can take the sort of truly innovative game titles that the DS’s touch display has brought to a whole new level. What’s more, the iPhone’s chipset features “powerful acceleration for embedded 3D-graphics” accessible through OpenGL and Apple’s Core Animation technologies, all part of the iPhone OS. It’s an extremely solid gaming platform, evidenced by the fact that in just two weeks time EA ported its much anticipated title Spore to the iPhone while SEGA did the same with its hit Super Monkey Ball — and both developers were new to Xcode and the iPhone development environment. SEGA in particular was surprised at the ease of development and power of the iPhone, calling the experience of gaming on the device “console gaming.” Smartphone gaming, this is not.

And all of the above applies to the lower-priced iPod touch, as well (with a small fee attached to the forthcoming 2.0 update).

There are over four million iPhones out there presently and Apple is shooting for 10 million units sold by the end of this year — and don’t forget about the 3G iPhones that are just months away. When you think about those numbers and what Apple’s announcements this week will do to enrich the platform, it becomes clear that the iPhone is absolutely the mobile platform of relevance in this crowded market. Why would developers choose to expend energies on other less broad, less powerful, less standards-based platforms? Why would users look to any other device?

When Steve Jobs took the stage in January of last year to unveil the iPhone, he told us that it was every bit as revolutionary a moment in technology as the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Looking at where this platform is clearly headed, I’m here to tell you…he was right.

Can The US National Security Bureaucracy Remain Relevant? by John Robb

“The elephant is great and powerful, but prefers to be blind.
- David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (1972)

(Here’s an aside on the future of the “national security” system. Please bear with me as I work on it.)

The US national security budget is nearly $700 billion a year (much more if the total costs of Iraq/Afghanistan are thrown in), more than the rest of the world combined. Unfortunately, within that entire budget there isn’t a single research organization or think tank that is seriously studying, analyzing or synthesizing the future of warfare and terrorism. Fatally, most of the big thinkers working on the future of warfare do their critical work in their spare time, usually while working other jobs to put food on the table for their families. In sum, this deficit in imagination will soon be the critical determinant on whether the national security bureaucracy remains relevant in a rapidly changing global security environment. That relevance is the key to its future.

Here’s why. The need for relevancy became apparent on 9/11, when a small group of attackers hit the US without regard, or even a passing thought, to the trillions the US had previously invested in national security. The public’s response, this first time, was to pour more trillions to correct that failure. When another unanticipated situation occurs again (and it will, likely in a increasingly rapid succession as small group warfare climbs an exponential ramp of productivity improvements), the public will not be as generous as they were the first time to a legacy organization that can’t/won’t do the job we pay it for. In fact, the public’s displeasure will likely be expressed in a series of major defunding events for the national security bureaucracy. Here’s the process that will cause it:

* Funding will already be very scarce. The combination of demographically driven entitlement spending (the first baby boomers retire this year), ballooning deficits (funded by harder to get and more expensive debt), and an inability to raise new federal revenue (money under pressure moves global) means that money will be very tight. As a result, the Federal government’s discretionary budget will suffer significant and prolonged shrinkage.

* A need to show results. Given insufficient funding over a prolonged period, much more attention will be paid to the returns of investment from government programs (a result of too many programs chasing an ever tighter budget in an increasingly transparent society). Those programs that don’t perform well, will fall under the axe. Further, citizens, who increasingly view themselves as customers of government security services rather than passive recipients, will be increasingly critical of failures from programs that cost plenty but deliver little.

* Competition from below. New, grass roots efforts at the state and local levels will compete favorably against national programs. As in: if the federal bureaucracy can’t protect us, we will do the job ourselves locally (New York City has already paved that pathway with its own counter-terrorism center). Expect a fight between local and federal, a fight where the local wins.

In short, the next black swan is likely to do the opposite of what the national security bureaucracy thinks. Rather than be the driver of massive rounds of new funding, it could turn it into a husk of its former self. Given that simply remaining relevant will become the key to future public funding of our national security system, will the bureaucracy react to save its own hide? Likely not. The smart money is on a failure to change, irrelevance, and organizational dissolution.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Launches $100 Million iFund for iPhone Application Developers

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers today announced the launch of the iFund with $100 million in venture capital to invest in companies developing applications and services for Apple’s innovative iPhone and iPod touch. The iFund, managed by KPCB, will be invested in companies with market-changing ideas and products that extend the revolutionary new iPhone and iPod touch platform. Apple will provide KPCB with market insight and support.

“A revolutionary new platform is a rare and prized opportunity for entrepreneurs, and that’s exactly what Apple has created with iPhone and iPod touch,” said John Doerr, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “We think several significant new companies will emerge as this new platform evolves, and the iFund will empower them to realize their full potential.”

“Developers are already bursting with ideas for the iPhone and iPod touch, and now they have the chance to turn those ideas into great companies with the help of world-class venture capitalists,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait to start working with Kleiner Perkins and the companies they fund through this new initiative.”

The iFund will be led by KPCB partner Matt Murphy in collaboration with partners John Doerr, Bill Joy, Randy Komisar, Ted Schlein, Chi-Hua Chien and Ellen Pao. The initiative will be agnostic to stage and size of investment with a focus on areas including location based services, social networking, mCommerce, communication, and entertainment. The iFund will seek to fund entrepreneurs pursuing transformative ideas with the potential to become standalone, public companies. In addition to providing capital, KPCB will assist with company-building expertise, business development relationships and access to its vast network of talented entrepreneurs.

Since its founding in 1972, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has backed entrepreneurs in over 500 ventures, including AOL, Amazon.com, Citrix, Compaq Computer, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Genomic Health, Google, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Netscape, Lotus, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, Verisign and Xilinx. KPCB portfolio companies employ more than 250,000 people. More than 150 of the firm’s portfolio companies have gone public. Many other ventures have achieved success through mergers and acquisitions. KPCB has been an active investor in mobile ventures with over 20 portfolio companies in the sector. Current portfolio companies including Pelago, Dash, GOGII, and Pinger will collaborate closely with the iFund initiative.

FARC Fallout: Assessing Dirty Bomb Claims by Aaron Mannes

Among the more explosive revelations from the laptops of the late FARC leader Raul Reyes is the allegation that the FARC was trafficking in radioactive materials and according to Colombia’s Vice President was planning to build a “dirty bomb.” A dirty bomb (or a radiological dispersal device) is an explosive packed with radioactive materials that are dispersed with the explosion (for more details see below.)

No one should question the fundamental viciousness of the FARC. But the dirty bomb accusation should be investigated carefully, particularly considering the FARC’s access to international smuggling networks (they help smuggle tons of illegal drugs to the United States around the world).

From the documents released by the Colombian government (36 page pdf in Spanish), the sole reference to uranium is point number six in a memo dated February 16, 2008 to Reyes from Edgar Tovar. The other contents of the memo deal with FARC finances, operations, and possible informants. It has to be emphasized that the writing is not terribly clear (although when it is examined by experienced analysts and put into context it will undoubtedly prove to be a wealth of information about FARC operations.)

Here is a translation of the paragraph about uranium:

Another topic is about uranium. There is a gentleman who supplies me with material for the explosive that we prepare and his name is Belisario and he lives in Bogota. He is a friend of Jon 40 [possibly Jon 40 a commander of the 27th Front, which is based in the Meta Department, and is part of the FARC’s Eastern Bloc], eastern Efren [possibly the other commander of the 27th Front], Caliche of Jacobo [possibly a commander of the 9th Front, based In the Antioquia Department and part of the Northwest Bloc or someone associated with the Jacobo Arenas Urban Front, based in the Medellin region], he sent me samples and specifications and they propose to sell each kilo for 2.5 million dollars and they handle delivery and we handle who we sell to and that it be a business with a government to sell to. Arto [possibly plural] have 50 kilos ready and they can sell much more, he has direct contact with those who have the product.

Much of this is unclear.* There is minimal punctuation. The verb after Arto is plural indicating it may be a group. The original Spanish is here:

Otros de los temas es lo de el Uranio hay un señor que me surte de material para el explosivo que preparamos y se llama Belisario y vive en Bogotá es amigo de Jon 40, Efrén oriental, Caliche de la Jacobo, el me mando el muestrario y las especificaciones y proponen vender cada kilo a 2 millones y medios de dólares y que ellos entregan y nosotros miramos a quien le vendemos y que sea el negocio con un gobierno para venderle arto tienen 50 kilos listos y pueden vender mucho más, tiene el contacto directo con los que tienen el producto.

So it appears that the FARC is entering the uranium smuggling business – a logical move for them (uranium is mined in Colombia and Venezuela). But, unlike cocaine, there are far fewer buyers and the consequences of getting caught – which the FARC seems to be aware of, hence the emphasis on selecting buyers – are very high.

The Dirt on Dirty Bombs

But this doesn’t get us to the dirty bomb accusation. Uranium, apparently, is a terrible material for building a dirty bomb – in and of itself it is not radioactive. An excellent primer on dirty bombs is this CRS report from April 1, 2004 (a 6 page pdf).

In a nutshell, in all but the least developed societies there are substantial amounts of radioactive material used for innumerable medical, industrial, and mundane capacities. Acquiring the material for a dirty bomb is not that hard, but all radioactive material is not equal. Most of the material that can be readily acquired is not that radioactive and unless truly enormous quantities were obtained, would probably just raise background radiation level by a small amount. There are specific materials that could do much worse than that, however there is another problem. The radioactive material has to be converted into a form that is easily dispersed (say a fine powder.) Milling down a highly radioactive metal bar would be difficult (probably killing the workers in the process.)

The FARC could easily build a low level dirty bomb. But it is a problematic tactic, in that all it would do is raise the background radiation level and possibly causing slight long-term increases in health risks. (There is a debate among experts about the efficacy of dirty bombs – an ongoing issue for consequence management in the U.S. is that strict EPA standards might force the closure of areas hit by a dirty bomb when the practical impact on health is minimal.) In general, an unsophisticated dirty bomb would amount to a big, expensive hassle. Some experts argue that a dirty bomb, regardless of the real effects, would cause a massive panic – hopefully this proposition will never be tested, but in many stressful disaster situations social networks prove to be surprisingly resilient. For the FARC a dirty bomb might not be an attractive weapon since it would do minimal damage, while making the FARC politically radioactive.

Nonetheless, news that the FARC is entering the uranium trade is interesting and worrisome. More than any other terrorist group the FARC sits on the nexus of international crime and terrorism. This was epitomized by the deal with the IRA – drugs for weapons training – that was disrupted in August 2001. The extent of these links should be one of the many valuable things gleaned from the laptops of Raul Reyes.

*Full disclosure, my own Spanish is terrible but I work closely with a very diligent Spanish-speaking researcher.