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Prospects of Terror: Jihadi Alternatives


DP Veteran
Oct 3, 2005
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In Part I of a very thoughtful analysis, J.R. Dunn asserts that the Jihadis have lost the opening rounds of the GWOT and asks, what next?

Here are a couple of his main points:

"The Jihadis have lost Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s true that fighting continues in both countries, but at this point it’s effectively theater. It can’t be repeated often enough that the type of war we are involved in is as much political as it is military. By any political measure, the Jihadis have been routed. Their only chance of prevailing was to appeal to the Iraqis and Afghans as a viable alternative to elected democratic governments. No such attempt was ever made. Instead, the Jihadis have relentlessly made the Iraqis and Afghans suffer. Their final chance in Iraq lay in derailing the political process last year. They failed at this, and now it is over. Not the violence – there will be car bombs going off in Iraq for years to come, unfortunately. But any opportunity of a Jihadi victory is gone."
"It’s doubtful that the Jihadis will fade out yet, not after spending over twenty years organizing and laying the groundwork. They may be hurt, but they still have a punch...

But if the Jihadis want to continue, they’ll need to adapt a strategy. Not modify the current one – they have never, up to this point, displayed the least signs of ever having one. Osama bin Laden’s concept of action appears to have been to make his move, then sit back and wait for Allah to handle the rest. Allah has been disinclined to do any such thing. (In fact, if ObL actually believed that Allah’s will is revealed in the course of events, he’d more than likely be devoting the rest of his days to prayer and repentance above all else.)"

"The Iraq War has been a serious embarrassment for the Jihadis. They had two goals in Iraq: to hand the U.S. a Vietnam-style humiliation and to prevent the creation of a working government. They have failed at both.

The roots of this failure lie in the fact that terror is not a strategy. That, in a nutshell, is what went wrong with the Islamist effort in Iraq. If killing a lot of people in novel ways was a war-winning plan, the Jihadis would have prevailed. Fortunately, there’s a little more to it.

Terror has its uses in the type of campaign being fought in Iraq. But it also has limitations, overlooked for many years, limitations that the Jihadi leadership, in particular Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have been slow to recognize.

Iraqi insurgents transferred the Palestinian Intifada model of random bombings intact to Iraq (Zarqawi himself is a Palestinian), evidently expecting similar results. But conditions in Iraq were not quite the same. Unlike helpless Israeli civilians, many of the targets in Iraq were able to shoot back, and the resulting losses to no effect forced a switch to the roadside bomb or IED, the Jihadi’s single innovation.

The IED reduced Jihadi strategy to one of pure attrition. IEDs were effective at causing casualties but little else. They were not adaptable to any other role besides the booby trap, and despite occasional spectacular hits, were useless at maneuver, engaging the enemy, taking and holding territory, or anything else a military asset is expected to do. (Early attempts at ambushes and holding cities and neighborhoods were dropped after it became apparent that Jihadi forces could not stand up against conventional infantry.) Nor did the insurgents see anything wrong with this. They viewed warfare as a terror operation writ large. And there was no one, evidently, not even Saddam Hussein’s ex-army officers, to tell them otherwise."


"The Jihadis now face a serious dilemma. Their chosen weapon, the bomb, in its various manifestations, is losing effectiveness as Iraqi forces begin taking the lead. In short order, they’ll be killing only Muslims, which is unacceptable to the Iraqi populace. (Recent polls among Iraqis reveal that up to 94% oppose attacks on Iraqi security forces while 97% oppose attacks on civilians. Oposition to attacks on foreigners is much lower.)

But fight on they must, or give up their dream of a new caliphate, of a return to a ‘purified’ Islam, of a world in which they are dominant."

There is a lot more thoughtful analysis, including implications for Iran and the rest of the ME, but its way too much to post here. Go to AmericanThinker to read the whole thing - then come back and post your reaction to it.
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