Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gauging the Jihadist Movement, Part 1: The Goals of the Jihadists

By Scott Stewart

Editor's NoteThe following is the first installment of a five-part series examining the global jihadist movement. Part 2 analyzes insurgent and terrorist theory. Part 3 defines the jihadist movement and evaluates its various elements. Part 4 looks at franchises and grassroots jihadists and Part 5 scrutinizes the al Qaeda core as well as gauging the overall implications for security. 

Quite often when I am doing speaking engagements, client briefings or press interviews, I am asked questions like: “Given the events in Syria and Libya, is the jihadist movement stronger than ever?” It is a good question, but it is also one that is not easily answered in a five-second sound bite or a succinct quote for print media -- it really requires some detailed explanation. Because of this, I’ve decided to take some time to provide a more thorough treatment of the subject in written form for Stratfor readers. As I thought through the various aspects of the topic, I came to believe that adequately covering it requires more than one Security Weekly, so I will dedicate a series of articles to it.

When gauging the current state of the jihadist movement, I believe it is useful to use two different standards. The first is to take jihadists' goals and objectives and measure their progress toward achieving them. The second is to take a look at insurgent theory and terrorism models to see what they can tell us about the state of jihadist militant networks and their efforts. This week we will discuss the first standard: the jihadists’ goals and objectives. Next week we will discuss insurgency and terrorism theories, and then once we have established these two benchmarks we can use them to see how the various elements of the jihadist movement measure up.

Jihadist Goals and Objectives

There is a widely held narrative that jihadists are merely crazy people who employ violence for the sake of violence. This is clearly false. While there are unquestionably some psychotic and sociopathic personalities within the movement, taken as a whole, jihadists' use of violence -- both terrorism and insurgency -- is quite rational.

It is also worth remembering that terrorism is not associated with just one group of people; it is a tactic that has been employed by a wide array of actors. There is no single creed, ethnicity, political persuasion or nationality with a monopoly on terrorism. Jihadists employ terrorism as they do insurgency -- as one of many tools they can use to achieve their objectives.
Arguably, the objectives the jihadists are pursuing through the employment of violence are delusional. Although we can question whether or not they will be able to achieve them through violent means, we simply cannot dispute that they are employing violence intentionally and in a rational manner with a view to achieving their stated goals. With that in mind, we will take a deeper look at those objectives.

It is very important to understand that jihadists are theologically motivated. In fact, in their ideology there is no real distinction between religion, politics and culture. They believe that it is their religious duty to propagate their own strain of Islam along with the government, legal system and cultural norms that go with it. They also believe that in order to properly spread their strain of Islam they must strictly follow the example of the Prophet Mohammed and his early believers. While all Muslims believe they must follow the Quran and the Sunnah, the jihadists allow very little space for extra-religious ideas and severely limit the use of reason to interpret the divine texts. 

Historically, after leaving Mecca, Mohammed moved to Medina, where he established the world’s first Islamic polity. He and his followers then launched military operations to raid the caravans of their opponents. Mohammed’s army eventually conquered Mecca and a large portion of the Arabian Peninsula before the Prophet’s death. Within a century of Mohammed’s passing, his followers had forged a vast empire that crossed North Africa and most of Spain to the west, reaching to the borders of China and India in the east. Just as Mohammed and his followers had conquered much of the known world, the jihadists seek to reconquer this empire and then expand it to encompass the earth.
The jihadists’ plan is to first establish a state called an emirate that they can rule under jihadist principles, and then use that state as a launching pad for further conquests, creating a larger empire they refer to as the caliphate. Many jihadist ideologues believe that the caliphate should be a transnational entity that includes all Muslim lands, stretching from Spain (Al-Andalus) in the west to the Philippines in the east. The caliphate would then be extended globally, bringing the entire world into submission.     

Now, that said, it is important to remember that the jihadist movement is not monolithic and that there are varying degrees of ideological difference -- including goals and objectives -- between some of the various actors and groups. For example, some jihadists are far more nationalistic in philosophy and less transnational. They are focused on the overthrow of the regime in their country and the establishment of an emirate under Shariah. They are not concerned about using that emirate as a launching pad for the re-establishment of a wider caliphate. This nationalist vs. transnationalist tension was readily apparent in Somalia between the various factions of al Shabaab. Some jihadists also believe that there cannot be one global caliphate due to differences among Muslims, and instead seek to establish a series of smaller states that would span the same territory.
Jihadist ideologues and leaders have openly stated these intentions, but they are not just rhetorical goals for public consumption. A review of the private writings of jihadist leaders as well as the actions taken by jihadist operatives in the field clearly demonstrate the strong intent to achieve their aims.

Writings and Deeds

One of the most insightful looks into al Qaeda's strategy came in the form of a letter released by the U.S. government in 2005 from the organization's then-deputy leader (and current emir) Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi was the leader of al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, a jihadist group operating in Iraq that had pledged allegiance to al Qaeda and changed its name to al Qaeda in Iraq. The group later turned into an umbrella organization comprising several jihadist groups and was renamed the Islamic State of Iraq. More recently, due to its efforts in Syria, the group has changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  

Al-Zawahiri’s letter to al-Zarqawi was remarkable for a number of reasons, one of which was its elucidation of al Qaeda's goals. In the letter, al-Zawahiri wrote: "It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established in the manner of the Prophet in the heart of the Islamic world." He also noted that the first step in such a plan was to expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage was to establish an emirate and expand it into a larger caliphate. The third stage was then to attack the secular countries surrounding Iraq (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria and Jordan) and bring them into the caliphate. The fourth step was to use the power of the combined caliphate to attack Israel.

The strategy laid out by al-Zawahiri clearly resonated with the Iraqi jihadists, and their subsequent actions demonstrate that they have embraced it. Even their name, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (in which they emphasize the state), reflects their desire to establish a jihadist polity. In addition, the civil war in Syria has provided the Islamic State of Iraq with the opportunity to push into the neighboring secular country, where it has made a concerted effort to seize, hold and govern territory.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is not the only jihadist group to attempt to establish an emirate. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula made a concerted effort to seize, hold and govern territory in southern Yemen as a result of the Yemeni revolution in 2011, briefly controlling a substantial swath of territory there. Al Shabaab has controlled and governed parts of Somalia for several years now (though recently the group lost significant portions of it). Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb temporarily established an emirate in northern Mali in 2012, and the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram has attempted to establish control over areas in Nigeria’s north. At present, jihadist groups such as Ansar al-Shariah are seeking to establish control over territory amid the chaos in Libya.

This goal of establishing an emirate was also clearly articulated in two letters The Associated Press discovered in Timbuktu, Mali. They were written by Nasir al-Wahayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and sent to Abdelmalek Droukdel (also known as Abu Musab Abd al-Wadoud), the leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. In the letters, al-Wahayshi detailed some of the lessons and mistakes his organization had made while it was attempting to establish its emirate in Yemen. He clearly sought to share those lessons with al-Wadoud so that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s emirate in Mali would be more successful. 

In one of the letters, al-Wahayshi also explained that his group purposefully did not proclaim an emirate in southern Yemen. "As soon as we took control of the areas, we were advised by the General Command here not to declare the establishment of an Islamic principality, or state, for a number of reasons: We wouldn't be able to treat people on the basis of a state since we would not be able to provide for all their needs, mainly because our state is vulnerable. Second: Fear of failure, in the event that the world conspires against us. If this were to happen, people may start to despair and believe that jihad is fruitless."

Evidently al-Wahayshi’s advice went unheeded. Shortly after the jihadists declared an Islamic state called Azawad in northern Mali in April 2012, the French invasion pushed the jihadists out of the territory they had conquered, ending the short-lived state of Azawad. Letters found in Mali also reflected that Droukdel was found to have written to his commanders in Mali calling for them to refrain from fundamentalist and excessively brutal behavior that would jeopardize their objectives. We have also seen recent communications from al-Zawahiri criticizing al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb for the errors in Mali that led to its defeat. 

These events show that establishing an emirate as a base from which to launch further expansion is at the heart of the jihadist strategy, remaining an important goal for the jihadist movement. 

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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

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