Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Link Tank

In lieu of a longer post today (I think I've given/subjected the reader to enough of those recently), I would like to point to a few items that I think are quite worthy of a closer look.

First, Mahan Abedin (editor of the Terrorism Monitor, published by the Jamestown Foundation) has a very informative and helpful primer on the various strains of the Iraqi Sunni insurgencies (via Prof Cole). Abedin's piece covers all the topics in a concise way, and is a useful guide to the outsider looking to navigate the web of connectedness and intrigue withint that ever changing landscape.

Along those lines, Stygius at American Footprints links to this report put out by the International Crisis Groups entitled, In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency. This report, quite ingeniously, culls information from various communications by actual insurgents. From the executive summary (with Styg's commentary):

In Iraq, the U.S. fights an enemy it hardly knows. Its descriptions have relied on gross approximations and crude categories (Saddamists, Islamo-fascists and the like) that bear only passing resemblance to reality. This report, based on close analysis of the insurgents' own discourse, reveals relatively few groups, less divided between nationalists and foreign jihadis than assumed, whose strategy and tactics have evolved (in response to U.S. actions and to maximise acceptance by Sunni Arabs), and whose confidence in defeating the occupation is rising. An anti-insurgency approach primarily focused on reducing the insurgents' perceived legitimacy - rather than achieving their military destruction, decapitation and dislocation - is far more likely to succeed.
Note in particular the last sentence's recommendation. The ICG's study of the insurgents' communications and media is particularly important.

Abundant material - both undervalued and underutilised - is available from insurgent websites, internet chat, videos, tapes and leaflets. Over the past two years such communication has assumed more importance, both among insurgent groups and between groups and their networks of supporters or sympathisers. This report, the first exhaustive analysis of the organised armed opposition's discourse, seeks to fill the gap, and the lessons are sobering.
Last, and definitely not least, is this round up of articles that Kevin Drum has compiled relating to certain findings vis a vis the detainees at Guantanamo. Among the discoveries: most of those being held at Gitmo have no connection to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. From the articles (as excerpted by Drum):

The largest single group at Guantanamo Bay today consists of men caught in indiscriminate sweeps for Arabs in Pakistan. Once arrested, these men passed through several captors before being given to the U.S. military. Some of the men say they were arrested after asking for help getting to their embassies; a few say the Pakistanis asked them for bribes to avoid being turned over to America.

...."The one thing we were never clear of was where they came from," [Michael] Scheuer said of the Guantanamo detainees. "DOD picked them up somewhere." When National Journal told Scheuer that the largest group came from Pakistani custody, he chuckled. "Then they were probably people the Pakistanis thought were dangerous to Pakistan," he said. "We absolutely got the wrong people."
Here is a typical story, that of a detainee named Mohammed al-Tumani:

Tumani's enterprising representative looked at the classified evidence against the Syrian youth and found that just one man - the aforementioned accuser - had placed Tumani at the terrorist training camp. And he had placed Tumani there three months before the teenager had even entered Afghanistan. The curious U.S. officer pulled the classified file of the accuser, saw that he had accused 60 men, and, suddenly skeptical, pulled the files of every detainee the accuser had placed at the one training camp. None of the men had been in Afghanistan at the time the accuser said he saw them at the camp.

The tribunal declared Tumani an enemy combatant anyway.
Just keep in mind what Gitmo is costing us in terms of tarnishing our image, straining relations with allies and alienating and enraging large chunks of the Muslim population that we are trying to appeal to in order to counter the advances made by extremists. And what exactly are we getting in return?

Also, consider all the abuse and torture that has occurred at Gitmo, and recall all the arguments about ticking time bombs and terrorists forfeiting their human rights and how all this reprehensible behavior is necessary. Not exactly folks.


And if that's not enough for you, The Editors have some newly released pictures of Abu Ghraib "frat pranks" (more pix here via Laura Rozen). But remember, Al Gore is a traitor and his speeches are what's radicalizing the Muslim world. Honest.

[UPDATE: What am I out of my mind? I forgot to promote my own work. Sheesh. Anyway, I have a short post up at American Footprints that, naturally, is far superior to any of this other tripe that I wasted my time linking to. Sort of.]

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