Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Study Abroad For A PHD In Terrorism

Well, this was bound to happen (as reported by Newsweek via Swopa):

At sundown, the most-wanted man in Ghazni province comes roaring down a country road astride his motorcycle. Mohammed Daud, 35, commands the biggest Taliban force in this area roughly 100 miles southwest of Kabul....Climbing off his machine, Daud launches into a glowing account of where he spent the first few months of this year and what he's done since his return. "I'm explaining to my fighters every day the lessons I learned and my experience in Iraq," he tells a NEWSWEEK correspondent. "I want to copy in Afghanistan the tactics and spirit of the glorious Iraqi resistance."

...Daud and other Taliban leaders tell NEWSWEEK that the Afghan conflict is entering a new phase, with help from Iraq. According to them, Osama bin Laden has opened an underground railroad to and from jihadist training camps in the Sunni Triangle. Self-described graduates of the program say they've come home to Afghanistan with more-effective killing techniques and renewed enthusiasm for the war against the West. Daud says he's been communicating a "new momentum and spirit" to the 300 fighters under his command.

...One beneficiary of Al Qaeda's renewed interest in Afghanistan is Hamza Sangari, a Taliban commander from Khost province....An Arab named Abu Nasser taught him to make armor-penetrating weapons by disassembling rockets and RPG rounds, removing the explosives and propellants and repacking them with powerful, high-velocity "shaped" charges. Another Arab trainer, Abu Aziz, trained him to make and use various kinds of remote-controlled devices and timers. A veteran Arab fighter named Abu Sara showed him how to spring ambushes and engage in urban fighting. Sangari said he often heard the sounds of battle nearby. He volunteered to fight, but his instructors told him his job was to study and get home alive to fight in Afghanistan.

...The guerrillas seem to have no trouble recruiting and arming new fighters. Daud says his forces have tripled from 100 to 300 since last year. This year at least 51 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan, compared with a total of 60 in the first three years of combat. One big reason for the jump in the U.S. fatality rate seems to be the guerrillas' shift to shaped-charge IEDs.

...The big worry is that studying Iraqi tactics will make the Afghan resistance significantly stronger and more lethal. During a recent sweep of pro-Taliban sites along the Afghan frontier in north Waziristan, Pakistani troops collected a mound of Arabic-language training manuals, apparently copies of the ones used by insurgents in Iraq. Sangari says he was impressed by way Iraqi insurgents created combat videos to help fund-raising and recruiting efforts; now similar videos of Taliban attacks are showing up in bazaars along the Pakistani border. An even scarier development was a suicide bombing at a mosque in Kandahar in early June that was eerily similar to atrocities against places of worship in Iraq.
As I have maintained all along, the "flypaper theory" - the "fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here" argument - is deeply flawed for so many reasons. First, as the most recent CSIS/Anthony Cordesman report indicates, young Muslim men are joining jihadist groups in direct response to our actions in Iraq. In other words, we are breeding flies that, but for our invasion, would not have been so radicalized.

Second, as the Newsweek article suggests, the flies that we're breeding are going to be better trained, equipped, motivated and indoctrinated - and now they will have a network of like minded terrorists with which to operate in tandem or toward the same objectives. Flies on steroids that won't stay glued to the flypaper indefinitely. They will eventually branch out, as the above cited article indicates.

Not to mention the likelihood for multiple civil wars erupting in Iraq which will further destabilize the region and ensure the perpetuation of a failed state in the center of the Middle East so that aspiring terrorists will know where to go to bone up on their jihadist tutelage.

All this, and the US taxpayers are footing the bill to the tune of several hundred billion dollars - so far. While the structure of the all volunteer military in America is pushed to the brink of meltdown.

Let me put it to you simply: The invasion of Iraq was the absolute biggest strategic blunder the US government has committed since Vietnam. Actually, this is worse. And you voted for George Bush for national security reasons?

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