Saturday, November 20, 2004

The War On Terrorism: Think "Organized Crime"

On a quick review, I was looking at my friend "Steve's" site at Iraq Files, who has a conglomeration of articles about Iraq and the war on terror, when I noted this article: Terrorist Leaders Remain Largely Untouched.

The article pretty much discusses several success around the globe at breaking up and detaining certain terrorist cells. However, it points out the obvious that the leaders or "master minds" usually leave the countries shortly before or after such operations. And, even though we have captured the "foot soldiers", information we obtain from them is not always helpful in either identifying the "master minds" or capturing them. Usually because, as many intelligence experts have pointed out, these cells operate on limited access to the organizers. The foot soldiers are very unlikely to have direct contact with leaders and the go betweens and the leaders use relatively secure and low-tech means in communicating to insure a limited trail.

What I find interesting is that these successes at catching the foot soldiers and not the organizers, are portrayed as some sort of failure. When in reality, this operation is much like a police operation against organized crime. First you scoop up the low level foot soldiers, obtain information, then move to each successive level, infiltrating and using information to grab up the next group or level of organization. While these groups are more savvy about insuring secure and separate communications, they are not perfect, nor are they impervious to infiltration.

This is slow and tedious work. There are few instant successes. Those who understand the meaning behind the president's "long war" analogy understand that this is what he means, outside the engendering of democratic and free states to try and offset their ability to recruit. This is going to be long. It will not be easy. But we can, and we will, slowly climb the ladder until the top men are gone and hopefully attrit the lower levels enough that they cannot raise other effective leaders such as Zarqawi, Zawahiri or bin Laden, making them that much easier to combat.

The good news is that, unlike organized crime, if we find any of these leaders, it is unlikely that they will survive long enough to be taken from the cave and sent to a court room.

We might not have been able to use a JDAM on John Gotti, but OBL is another matter entirely.

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