Al-Qaeda engages in "psychological warfare"
The fact that Al-Qaeda engages in psychological warfare techniques may surprise people, but they do it all the time and even vague threats are taken seriously, especially by the United States, which considers itself at war with the organization. In Afghanistan experts estimate that al-Qaeda has a presence of around 100 fighters. The US has spent in excess of a half trillion dollars and has over 100,000 combat soldiers stationed in Afghanistan with the stated goal of preventing al-Qaeda from using the country as a launching pad for future 9-11 style attacks.
Recently the White House issued a statement in response to the Republican nominee for President Mitt Romney that al-Qaeda was the number one “geopolitical threat” to the United States.
Al-Qaeda strength, in terms of actual numbers has been estimated in 2001 as around 500-1000 members. In 2006, it was estimated that al-Qaeda had several thousand commanders, capable of commanding insurgent forces, embedded in 40 different countries around the world.
As of 2009, it was believed that no more than 300–400 members were still active commanders.
Today al-Qaeda is around the same number, but has grown by tens of thousands of people who are designated as “al-Qaeda affiliates”.
“Al-Qaeda is completely decentralized and equal opportunity employer for anyone who is a Sunni Muslim with a bone to pick with the United States”, says Thomas Dunn of Charlotte, N.C., a counterterrorism expert. “With that said Al-Qaeda is a ruthless adversary who has successfully manipulated the United States in a prolonged war of attrition designed to drain it economically. Something it has been doing successfully for over a decade since the 9-11-2001 attacks. Almost to the point of economic collapse, it knows war is a terrible drain on any country. Instead of beating your swords into plowshares al-Qaeda has gotten the US to beat its plowshares into swords…”, he said.
Al-Qaeda’s strategy is rather simple, but it is rarely studied by US military or intelligence officials.
On March 11, 2005, Al-Quds Al-Arabi published extracts from Saif al-Adel's document "Al Quaeda's Strategy to the Year 2020". Abdel Bari Atwan summarizes this strategy as comprising five stages to rid the Ummah from all forms of oppression:
- Provoke the United States into invading a Muslim country.
- Incite local resistance to occupying forces.
- Expand the conflict to neighboring countries, and engage the U.S. in a long war of attrition.
- Convert al-Qaeda into an ideology and set of operating principles that can be loosely franchised in other countries without requiring direct command and control, and via these franchises incite attacks against countries allied with the U.S. until they withdraw from the conflict, as happened with the 2004 Madrid train bombings, but which did not have the same effect with the July 7, 2005 London bombings.
- The U.S. economy will finally collapse under the strain of multiple engagements in numerous places, making the worldwide economic system which is dependent on the U.S. also collapse leading to global political instability, which in turn leads to a global jihad led by al-Qaeda and a Wahhabi Caliphate will then be installed across the world. Atwan also noted, regarding the collapse of the U.S., "If this sounds far-fetched, it is sobering to consider that this virtually describes the downfall of the Soviet Union.
AL-QAEDA’S USE OF THE INTERNET
Timothy L. Thomas claims that in the wake of its evacuation from Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and its successors have migrated online to escape detection in an atmosphere of increased international scrutiny. As a result, the organization's use of the Internet has increased and become more sophisticated, covering everything from financing, recruitment, networking, mobilization, publicity, as well as information dissemination, gathering and sharing.
Al-Qaeda use of the Internet for release of its videos in order to be certain it would be available unedited, rather than risk the possibility of al Jazeera editors editing the videos.
In the past, Alneda.com and Jehad.net were perhaps the most significant al-Qaeda websites in use on the internet. Alneda was initially taken down by American Jon Messner, but the operators resisted by shifting the site to various servers and strategically shifting content.
Recently Al-Qaeda caused a stir by effectively combining its strategy of psychological warfare and threats online.
For example Fox news is reporting a story about A mysterious image “threatening the return to New York of Al Qaeda” designed to look like a movie promotional has appeared on a handful of Arabic websites, prompting the New York police department, NSA, CIA, State Department and FBI, Department of Homeland Security to investigate( see: Al Qaeda 'coming soon' to NYC, graphic warns http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/04/02/al-qaeda-coming-soon-to-nyc-graphic-warns/#ixzz1qxEkJjAf ).
Private estimates range wildly but suggest the cost to America for just one online Al-Qaeda posted threat will cost well over $300 million dollars just in law enforcement expenses alone, according to the Al-Islam foundation out of Phoenix, Arizona, which maintains an private office in Charlotte, N.C. that does assessment threat analysis of Al-Qaeda communications on various websites. According to its directorate, which declined to be named for security reasons said: “Even the vaguest of threat cause a panic and a overreaction. This is exaggerated by the entertainment based media in the United States, which sensationalizes such threats.
The FBI is investigating the incident and has stated there is no specific or credible threat involved here, leading us to believe this is a more a psychological warfare ploy meant to illicit a rise of threat warning nationally”, he said.
The graphic was seen on several Arabic-language websites, including gulfup.com, according to a source in Charlotte, N.C. and confirmed by Mr. Johnny Jonhson of Wichita a retired intelligence analyst familiar with teh dealing of al-Qaeda on the world wide web.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.