Friday, April 13, 2007

A return to terrorism of the 1990s?

Marc Lynch has observed that the recent attacks of groups claiming to be part of Al Qaeda are in fact returning to a strategy they had abandoned earlier -- that is, to wage their conflict locally. If Marc is right, I wonder if these groups have really given up on their war against the "far enemy." I would think the 'far enemy' war is still on; merely that some of these groups have found opportunity to carry on their local conflicts as before. Even so, a very interesting insight.

Abu Aardvark
"... in terms of al-Qaeda itself it's worth noting the extent to which attacks like this mark a return to the insurgencies of the 1990s rather than a notably new development. The innovation of al-Qaeda Central, as has been widely noted, was to shift the attention of the jihad away from the 'near enemy' (local apostate regimes) to the 'far enemy' (the United States). One of the notable trends we're seeing in al-Qaeda 2.0, or al-Qaeda TNG, or whatever you prefer to call it, has been local cells hitting local targets under the banner of al-Qaeda... i.e. a return to hitting the 'near enemy'. The brand name is new, and gives a veneer of globalism to the attacks, but the terrorism itself looks more like the (failed) insurgencies of the 1990s:
attacks on local regime targets which kill a lot of local citizens along the way, carried out by local cells which may or may not include returnees from Iraq or people directly linked to AQ Central. This isn't to discount the very real changes in the organization of the transnational jihad, or the
importance of the jihadist rhetoric and images and identities forged over the last few years, or the opportunity to regularly attack the 'far enemy' provided by the presence of American troops in Iraq. But operationally, it is striking the extent to which these kind of terror attacks resemble the earlier period of jihadist terrorism in the 1990s rather than some kind of a qualitative leap forward."

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