The Happy Arab News Service

Saturday, July 14, 2007


LONDON, July 4 -- The 39-page memo recovered from an al-Qaeda laptop computer in Pakistan three years ago read like an Idiot's Guide to Bombmaking. Forget military explosives or fancy detonators, it lectured. Instead, the manual advised a shopping trip to a hardware store or pharmacy, where all the necessary ingredients for a terrorist attack are stocked on the shelves. 

"Make use of that which is available at your disposal and . . . bend it to suit your needs, (improvise) rather than waste valuable time becoming despondent over that which is not within your reach," counseled the author of the memo, Dhiren Barot, a British citizen who said he developed his keep-it-simple philosophy by "observing senior planners" at al-Qaeda training camps. 

 Barot, who was later captured near London and is serving a 30-year sentence, had envisioned an attack with multiple car bombs that would detonate liquid-gas cylinders encased in rusty nails -- a strategy with striking similarities to an attempt last week by a suspected terrorist cell to blow up three vehicles in London and Glasgow, Scotland. . . . . . . . . .

Reloading MatriX . . . Please Wait


The article in the Washington Post provides a very clear insight into the ways el-Kaida is thinking and what it is trying to become. At the technical level, el-Kaida approach is similar in many respects to that of Hezbollah, which survived one month long onslaught of the IDF while continuously lobbing rockets into northern Israel. All this was achieved while using pretty straightforward and simple techniques and ammunition such as tunnels and bunkers, well hidden launching pads and avoiding facing the IDF face to face while firing anti tank missiles at IDF troops from a safe distance of a few hundreds meters to a few kilometers.

In their reliance on simple low-tech both el-Kaida and Hezbollah show their lack of fear before Western societies and their armies equipped with the latest technology, reasoning (and they have a point) that what they lack in means they more than compensate by the strength of their spirit, their compelling vision and clarity of purpose. Both view the technological sophistication of Western armies as another proof of the vulnerability and lack of toughness of the enemy who is hiding its soft spiderweb behind the iron wall of tanks and firepower.


And the low-tech weapons designed by el-Kaida for launching attacks on soft civilian targets serve their purpose as well as Hezbollah anti tank and Katyusha crews who were waging their war on IDF and Israel from underground bunkers and tunnels.

The makeshift bombs lack the destructive potential of the conventional explosives that rake Iraq on a daily basis. They are also less reliable, as demonstrated by the car bombs that failed to go off in London last week after the culprits tried to ignite them with detonators wired to cellphones. But other attempts have generated plenty of mayhem and damage, including the kitchen-built backpack bombs that killed 52 people in the London public transit system on July 7, 2005. . . . 

 The advantages of homemade explosives are that they are easy and cheap to manufacture, as well as difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect. According to one expert, the peroxide-based liquid explosives that an al-Qaeda cell allegedly intended to use to blow up nine transatlantic airliners last summer would have cost as little as $15 a bomb. It is technically simple to make such explosives. Instructions are widely available on the Internet. Experts added, however, that it takes skill and sophistication to construct a viable bomb by adding timing devices, detonators or secondary charges.  


So far about technology. At the more global, call it even metaphysical, level, el-Kaida seems to be striving to mutate out of a terrorist network, its headquarters hidden somewhere in remote mountains of Pakistan's tribal regions, into a Matrix style virtual reality creature that lives and breathes in bits and bytes of the Internet. It as if the network is leaving its mountains and cages and withdraws into the digital MatriX of the Internet, escaping American special forces, unmanned drones and F-16's hunting it around the globe.

With its ideology transformed into bits and bytes and with its simple yet effective 'Make Yourself' approach to manufacturing iweapons, the MatriX of the Internet is all el-Kaida needs. El-Kaida does not appear to be interested in expanding itself as much as to learn to clone itself in the manner of agent Smith who was eventually duplicating himself by merely touching people of Matrix. How many el-Kaidas can be created in this manner? Neo would have said: A Lot More. 

More and more Western born Islamists experience el-Kaida as a virtual entity that exists primarily on the Internet. Hi-tech sophistication and the dream of dirty bombs are abandoned for the sake of simple no-nonsense and down-to-earth methods of manufacturing bombs that can be easily replicated in kitchens and living rooms. El-Kaida is becoming less and less about moving people and resources across borders and more and more about spreading digitalized ideology and know-how that seem to have taken a life of their own on the Internet.

Finally it's a plausible suggestion that sooner or later Global Jihad would evolve beyond crude home made explosive devices. And not even so much because of their limited potential as because there are means even more effective and probably not much more difficult to produce. Chemical weapons should become weapons of choice of terrorists of the future, Islamic fundamentalists and others. Sunni insurgents in Iraq have been already experimenting for some time with chlorine canisters.

If and when an appropriate know-how becomes available it's a safe bet that it will spread via Internet and be adopted by terror cells in Britain and elsewhere in no time. The question is indeed whether the stage of home made chemical weapons will be ever achieved. Otherwise Jihadists will have to set up networks to organize logistics of assembling or buying such weapons in third countries and then smuggling them to the West. Once this stage is reached Britain and others may quickly find their defenses overwhelmed. Gases injected into air conditioning systems or released into closed spaces packed with people will make possible attacks with an elevated number of casualties running in hundreds and even thousands.

Anshel Pfeffer from the Jerusalem post was analyzing recently the British response to the latest attacks in Britain. The acute identity crisis experienced by the two main political parties goes hand in hand with the total loss of any touch with the reality on the part of the media and intellectual circles.

For Britons, the war on terror is not the same as it is for Israelis or Americans, facing a largely foreign enemy. Most of those who have carried out terrorist attacks in the UK, or are suspected of involvement in them, are indeed Islamist, but they are also homegrown. And it's hard to expect a real war on terror from a country whose peoples don't know who they are anymore, let alone who the enemy is. 


In fact, the leftist forces in the country, joined by renegade liberal elements, are running a campaign for discrediting the West in general and Israel in particular so atrocious that at times the impression is that many young British are no longer sure whether they possess anything valuable to defend at all. Recently various British organizations and trade unions were following one another with announcements of yet another 'Boycott Israel' or 'Divest from Israel' campaign. The moral and intellectual confusion gripping large parts of Europe is now such that it should come as no surprise if following this or next series of attacks the British society will respond by doubling and tripling its anti Israel initiatives.

  This is not say that the enemy Britain is facing is in confusion about its identity or whatever. This enemy enjoys determination and single mindedness of purpose proven time and again everywhere from the mountains of Afghanistan to the narrow alleys of Fallujah and Nahr el-Bared. And he has an insight of insider into the nature of its Western opponents which is basically one big soft underbelly of human gray mass, of people whose sense of identity is eroded by multiculturalism, whose moral and ethical compass is confused by the post modernistic relativism and whose ability to withstand stress and pressures of life are destroyed by a culture that cultivates senseless and pointless sentimentality which it calls emotional intelligence.

Too many times it looks as if people shaped by this culture are in a never ending obsession to recreate cheap psychological soap operas, they are daily fed via TV channels, by their own lives. And they do it while destroying themselves through pursuing hopeless relationships, through indulging in the most self destructive of human emotions just for the sake of feeling something. This is because this culture is fleeing from feelings of emptiness and lack of purpose into unbridled emotionality that it proclaims to be spirituality. It is a culture that worships life as insanely as the other side insists on practicing its gruesome cult of martyrdom and death, and, as everybody knows, death eventually takes every life. And the enemy is watching the destruction he sows and the increasing confusion it creates and he understands well what he sees.


When a Monkey meets a Monkey . . .

Muslim immigration meets radical left in Europe

This is a follow-up on my conversation with Roman Kalik in the comments section of this post. The point I was making is about the degree to which radical left in Europe and elsewhere has contributed to the recently observed phenomena of second generation Muslim immigrants turning to Islam and embracing the more extreme versions of it. While the exact contribution to this process on the part of radical left can be debated the following is worth considering. When we say el-Kaida is selling a very hardened version of radical Islam, this is only partially true since el-Kaida is clearly about more than Islam as such.

Theoretically it's quite possible (practically it apparently almost never happens) that a person would practice a very hardcore version of Islam and yet largely preserve his sanity. Because such a thing is rarely found in nature most people confuse the Islam of el-Kaida with el-Kaida's geopolitical doctrines. For most practical purposes it's one and the same thing but on some occasions, such as this one, it may be useful to differentiate between the two. In this sense, what el-Kaida stands for is not so much a very peculiar interpretation of Islam, but rather a very peculiar interpretation of the geopolitical situation of the world in general and the Middle East in particular, namely, that conspirazoid crap circulated by the Arabs and other Muslims in their media and on the Internet. In my opinion much of the Islamic terrorism has little to do with Islam as a religion but more with the warped perception of the reality for which Islam *is* apparently responsible, but in indirect ways.

Many cultures accept suicide attacks and even attacks against civilian targets can be tolerated under extraordinary circumstances. In this sense Islam is only half as original as it is credited to be. More important is the absolutely fantastic and surrealistic perception of the world and politics indirectly cultivated by Islam in which the stakes are hugely overstated. It is this chronic paranoia the world of Islam is living in, that's largely responsible for the extreme violence normally associated with Islam. It is this constant feeling of living on the edge, with everybody around plotting to destroy Islam, enslave Muslim countries and sterilize/corrupt Muslim populations that produces such grotesque and disproportionately violent reactions.

When I say that much of the ground for second generation Muslims in Europe turning Islamists was laid by the left, it is because radical left has become very paranoiac itself and in many cases is cultivating no less surrealistic and fantastic notions of the geopolitics. Muslims seem to be very susceptible to this kind of suggestions. I would also believe that under certain circumstances the whole thing works in reverse and it starts with leftist propaganda about multinationals conspiracy and the Western plot against the third world, including Muslim countries, that pushes young European Muslims to believe that if el-Kaida's reading of the geopolitics is true, then its Islam and radical violent approach should be also true. At any rate these days the leftist interpretation of the geopolitics is significantly overlapping with that of radical Islam and occasionally quoted by Islamists. Ahmadinejad's letters to Bush and Merkel read as if they were written by Noam Chomsky after he has converted to Islam.

 It can be said that radical Islam and radical left are undergoing a mild form of convergent evolution, the term used by biologists for unrelated species of different origin developing a similar featureset in the process of evolution. Radical left has been trying for quite a while to integrate Islamist movements into its vision of global resistance against the neocolonialist practices of the West. The support by Chomsky for Hezbollah, and Italian leftists organizing donation campaigns for Sunni insurgents in Iraq are examples of this trend. On the other hand the neo marxist socio economical analysis, in particular its interpretation of Western economic interests in the third world, has become permanently fused into the regular fundamentalist discourse on the role played by the West in the Middle East and elsewhere, enriched by regular Muslim paranoias about Jewish world domination conspiracies and the West waging a war on Islam.

As a matter of fact similar theories are common among radical leftists too in the form of the legendary Jewish lobby or multinationals taking advantage of the war on terror as a pretext to take over oil fields in Muslim countries. Large chunks of European youth seem to be very radicalized by the propaganda of radical left themselves. Most of them being spoiled welfare boys, their actions are usually limited to a very radical talk and nothing more. It is apparently different with Muslims, as I mentioned in my comments to the post, and for many second generation Muslims this leftist propaganda seem to serve as a catalyst to venture into radical Islam. Finally, as Bruno said in one of his comments to this post:

NB, there is a fundamental weakness in the 'jihadi way of warfare', which is that it cannot achieve any non-nihilistc goals. It cannot take or hold territory, it can't protect infrastructure from attack, it can't produce or protect wealth. HA performed relatively well in the last war precisely because it had no other goals except not getting annihilated and killing a few random Israelis. And even to achieve that they must rely on the crumbling Iranian economy, which is totally reliant on the oil rents paid by economies that actually produce something. On the short and medium term, they are scary. In the long term, it is not even a contest.

This is not to say that the outlook for radical left, largely synonymous with radical anti globalism, is much better. Borrowing from that peculiar slang used by the founders of Marxism Leninism, I would say that the place of the two is on the garbage pile of history. Yet, I would believe that the world may have to wait for quite a while and in the meantime eat truckloads of shit, before we see both of them there.


The animals, gracefully posing for the post, are famous Japanese snowmonkeys (Macaca fuscata). None of the monkeys, who kindly agreed to contribute their photos to my blog, has anything do with Islam or terror and appear here for illustration purposes only. Snowmonkeys are known as highly likeable and intelligent creatures, nothing to compare with either Muslims or radical leftists.

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