Professor William Berg
TR-101 5/20/15


Terrorism and Counter-terrorism Essay:


Terrorism used to be seen by the world's militaries as "low intensity conflict" and many commanders such as you were not often preoccupied with it. For us, exceptionally hot years such as 1983 or 1985 were just that--exceptions. Now it's war. It is a war that the al Qaeda enemy formally declared in 1996, and again in 1998. It's a war made by a long series of attacks upon free peoples. The U.S. only accepted this as "war" at the end of 2001, but it is now affixed to the horizon.
To call this war is not to say that it is a wholly military contest. If US government has a grand strategy, then this contest is political, ideological, legal, economic, and moral. It is profoundly moral. President Bush made the accurate parallel between terrorist and pirates or slave-traders. All three categories are natural enemies of humanity--an ancient concept of international law, and a good one. On Saturday, the new Pope described terrorism as "perverse," a "cruel decision that shows contempt for the sacred right to life," and "a new barbarism." The global nations, collectively, hold the upper hand in this contest because Allies is a moral cause, and they must not ignore or abandon that moral advantage.
Two recent and ugly innovations by terror groups underscore terrorism's profound inhumanity. You may have noticed the new pattern of terror attacks on aid personnel and nongovernmental organizations. What had been rare is now appallingly common. NGOs" are studying the challenge, but have only begun. For now they often close down relief operations and withdraw in the face of terror--a prudent response, but one that negates their whole purpose, and satisfies the attackers. Until now, NGOs have tended to want nothing from you as commanders except logistical support for their own work. The less contact the better, it seemed. Now, they may begin asking you to help with their security, which is a most complicated job.
A second reminder of the character of terrorism is a new pattern of double-bombings. The first explosive is laid to wound and kill; this damage draws in dozens of medical professionals and "first responders;" (WOLF, 2003) when enough ambulances have arrived, the second timed charge detonates, redoubling the carnage. I first noticed the old Irish Republican Army do this. Then, a right-wing terrorist did it in Atlanta Georgia. The jihadis' Bali Indonesia bombings confirmed the pattern--a preliminary bomb in a building drove people out into the street, where a far larger bomb murdered many of them. And then, at a fourth point on the globe (Iraq) came the August 17 bombing of a bus terminal in Baghdad. Police naturally rushed to the scene, and that's when a second bomb blew, in the station parking lot. There was a third layer to the plan. Ambulances rushed wounded to a nearby hospital, and there, awaiting them, was a suicide bomber, who then detonated. When terrorism develops such techniques it rarely regresses; we'll see more.
The moral relativists who will not understand terrorism--who say, "it is nothing more than a weapon of the weak"--should ponder the planning in these double-bombings. How hard you commanders work to train your personnel to protect the Red Cross, to steer clear of ambulances, to avoid hospitals as sanctuaries of the wounded, even amidst actual battle. Compare that with what terrorists plot and do in peacetime, with this explicit targeting of medical personnel.
The over-heated religious militants led by al Qaeda have an internationalist program. That is evident from their targeting: Nairobi, Casablanca, Istanbul, Riyadh, and Madrid. Their internationalism is just as evident from their recruitment: Saudis, Moroccans, Algerians, Somalis, Yemenis, Filipinos, and Western Europeans of all kinds.� The enemy confirms all this in how he trains: al Qaeda's camps in the Sudan, and then Afghanistan, drew tens of thousands, to some 50 training camps, from the corners of the world. In late 2001, in the Afghan war, The Allied coalition captured people from over forty countries! There was of course a Philippines training branch, and another in Indonesia. The array of foreign faces appearing in these camps was widely diverse.
The jihadis' internationalism is just as evident in their ideology: as surely as a good man may be called into good and divine service