...how America's War has hurt the global fight against terrorism...

…it has been argued by some that The War Against Terror that the United States is currently persuing is the best option for America, and that unfortunate incidents like the Pakistani bombing, while sad for those involved, is an unfortunate consequence of their locality and their peers. They argue that the War on Terror has made America safer.

On January the 9th, 2006, the Pakistani government lodges a protest with the US government over the death of eight people in the North Waziristan tribal region after a missile strike. Five days later, the US allegedly hit three houses in Damadola Burkanday, targeting Bin Laden’s deputy, al-Zawahiri.

According to several reports, while the bombs missed their primary target, they did manage to kill Abu Khabab al-Masri, al-Qaeda’s chief bomb maker and head of it’s WMD programme. In the previous thread about the Pakistani bombing, a poster linked to the below article that included a photograph of the said bomb maker.
…except, the photo on the link (taken from the official State Department Website), is not of Abu Khabab al-Masri at all. It was a picture of the London preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri. For the last year and a half the wrong picture had been shown on the official web-site: Abu Khabab is now represented by a rather fetching silhouette, and he is description is as follows:
Date of birth: April 29, 1953
Place of birth: Egypt
Height: Unknown
Weight: Unknown
Build: Unknown
Hair: Unknown
Eyes: Unknown
Complexion: Unknown
Sex: Male
Nationality: Unknown
Occupation: Unknown
Characterisitics: none
Aliases: Abu Khabab al-Masri
Status: Unknown
Is he dead? Well, the reward is still open, his status is unknown, and unless they have some of his DNA on file, they obviously didn’t confirm his death by matching his facial features.

We know it was the wrong photo thanks to the detective work of NBC news, who kindly pointed it out to the CIA, who admited a “human error.”

By itself, this is a small fluff. But for anyone with an understanding of chaotic systems, this is a small fluff in a sea of many small fluff’s that add up to one huge clusterfluff. The way that America has prosecuted the war on terror has made the world less safe, not more.

International Co-operation.

Terror is a global problem, and gaining the co-operation of other nations is an absolute must. Below are listed three instances where the United States has taken an arrogant “we know best” attititude, one that is hardly conducive to good relations and international co-operation.

In March of 2003, the radical Islamic Cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, disappered off the streets of Milan. The US Central Intelligence Agency contacted the Italian Anti-Terror Police and told them that they had reliable information that Nasr had fled to an unknown location in the Balkans. According to Italian Investigators, this was a lie. Court documents allege that a CIA team abducted him from an Italian street, took him to two different US Military bases, then flew him to Egypt where he was tortured, then released into house arrest. The CIA operation was discovered because the operatives left the batteries in their cell-phones, allowing a periodic signal to be broadcast that was used to discover the identities and locations by Italian Investigators. More importantly, the abduction ruined an on-going terrorist investigation being run by Italian authorities.

In early 2002, Indonesian authorities captured Omar al-Faruq, and in a move highly controversial to many Indonesian’s, handed him over to United States Authorities. In July 2005 Omar escaped from a detention centre in Bagram. The escape was reported widely, but Omar’s identity was changed to an alias. In November, a court case about detainee abuse revealed the fact that Omar had escaped and that the al-Qaeda’s highest-ranking operative in Southeast Asia had been free for four months, and the Indonesian government had not been informed.



Part of the US strategry in fighting The War Against Terror is engaging “terrorists” where they “live.” Unfortunately for the people of Iraq, it means they become unwilling participants in Americas war. US government figures show that between January and March of 2004, on average of 25 Iraqi’s were killed or wounded by the insurgency, by June that figure was at 40 Iraqi’s killed or wounded. In November of 2005, an average of 63 Iraqi’s were killed or wounded by insurgents per day. Despite the high casaulty count, the Pentagon estimates that 80% of all attacks are targeting Coalition Forces, but 80% of the casaulties are Iraqi.

(Iraq, Measuring Security and Stability, 2005, PDF document about two thirds down the page, Page 23)
The Detention Industry and Actionable Intelligence.

The US policy of detention since 9/11 has developed, like all good free market enterprises, has developed into an industry. The end product is actionable intelligence, a somewhat nebulous term defined by the folks at K-Praxis as “a process of analyzing multi-dimensional facets of actionable information to arrive at an action plan.”*

Our biggest insights into the Industry come from Guantanemo Bay. Official statements from the Pentagon discribe those interned there as “the baddest of the bad”, and commonly believed to be illegal combantants taken from the battlefields of Afghanistan. The truth is, that after three years of captivity, there has been no successful prosecution of those locked up at Guantanemo. The evidence against those like David Hicks who have been charged are extremely thin, and there are people like Murat Kurnaz and Abu Baker Qassim have been declared to be not illegal combantants, yet they remain locked up at Guantanemo Bay.

The following citations we also get an insight on how some of the people were chosen for internment, from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, to being turned in by family enemies, and in the worst of cases, some were sent to Guantanemo simply because of bad paperwork, and Junior Officers chose not to upset more senior officers.



It is no secret that US authorities and Private Contractors used “Stress Positions”, temperature adjustments, sleep depravation and other means to illicit information from prisoners to helo obtain "actionable intelligence in many instances. But considering how dubious some of the circumstances behind the detentions were, how often were these techniques useful when interrogating somebody who was innocent?

Now lets take that problem, and move it to Iraq. In Iraq, detainees numbered in their tens of thousands. The hunt (both then and now) was for actionable intelligence in an effort to stop the insurgency. We know that the techniques that were used at Guantanemo were also used at the Iraqi prisons. Then in 2004, the International Red Cross broke their normal proceedure and released a report claiming between 60 and 90% of those in detention in Iraq were there either by malice or mistake. Shortly after the report was released, the Abu Gharib scandal broke, and then the US started a series of mass-prisoner releases.

The amount of “intelligence noise” generated by mulitple false imprisonments has never been seriously discussed, but I believe it to be a serious issue. Actionable Intelligence breeds Actionable Intelligence, much like the way “satanic ritual abuse” allegations became rampant in the late '80’s. The parallels between the development of the Detention Industry and the Counselling Industry during the peak of the ‘satanic ritual abuse’ are quite stark, both are undertaken by zealous prosecutions, people are detained more because of emotion than fact, normal rights become restricted because of the greater good, and bizarre accusations are taken as relatively normal. (Does anyone remember the al-Quada plot to blow up apartment blocks by leaving the gas on?)

The Hard Lessons From September 11 Have Not Been Heeded.
The American approach to the war on terror has taken the easy route. It is much easier to throw out a drift net and catch a lot of fish, than it is to shoot them with a sniper rifle. The problem is that once people get into the system, it is damm hard to get out of it again. Citizens of the world don’t have the advantage of the American Constitution to enusre basic rights when detained by American forces, so regardless of guilt people have remained locked up for over three years “just in case.”

In December of 2005, the 9/11 commission release a “scorecard” rating how well the US had reacted to the attacks of September 11.

I believe the hard, unexciting work has yet to be done. The US homeland is still open ,rife for attack. The intelligence agencies still aren’t communicating properly. The first responders don’t have radios that can talk to each other. There is no unified control system. But billions of dollars are being spent overseas detaining random people for no good reason, seeking intelligence that is no more reliable than what I could get from torturing my cousin.

I’ll add some more thoughts later, but I must go have tea. :slight_smile: Thoughts, comments, criticisms and abuse are welcomed…

Since I’ve joined SDMB, I must’ve read a thousand posts criticizing the US conduct in the war on terror. This is the best in that genre. Clear arguments, good cites, no sensationailst Bush = Hitler + Stalin.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything (I’ll post more later tonight), but props for the well thought out OP.

That´s one thing that relly pisses me off, it´s a boogey man, I don´t belive for one second that al Qaeda has a chief bomb maker, it´s completely ridiculous; who says he is/was?, did he win the Bomb Maker of the Month award for fourteen months in a row? does he have an office at the Earth Shattering Kaboom Department at AQ Central?
It´s pure propaganda to show something important came out of the attack; it makes not one bit of a difference if Abu Khabab al-Masri was chief bomb maker, what will happen with the other terrorist?, they´ll stand in front of a pile of C4 and detonators scratching their heads with an utterly befuddled look in their faces?.
Bombs are not rocket science, and neither are chemical weapons, anyone with two brain cells to rub togheter can come up with either.
It´s all good and dandy that a supposedly high ranking terrorists got nailed, but if the manner of execution is such that increases the base motive for terrorism it´s completely counter productive.
Al Qaeda can get another bomb expert, the US can´t undo the damage it´s done to the anti terrorism cause.

it was an obvious piece of ass-covering when it was floated. The prime minister has denied the “four big targets hit”.

Why does anyone believe this shit when it comes out, let alone after a day or two in the hot sun?

You’re 100% right. It would go against all practicality and the instinct for group survival that is necessary for these organizations to thrive. There might have been originally one master teacher, but the fact is, everyone involved probably has bomb-making skills. It’s not like we are going to capture one guy and the rest of Al-Queda is going to throw its hands into the air and say, “Guess it’s over fellows! You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here!”

Banquet Bear: excellent OP.

Yes, very good post.

I would add that Britain followed the US into Iraq solely because of WMDs (Blair specifically ruled out regime change, for example).
Now the 100th British soldier has died there, and nobody believes there were any WMDs.

Meanwhile British citizens are still held without trial, access to lawyers or family in Guantanamo Bay. The few Brits who have been released after human rights protests have simply been freed, since there was no evidence against them.

It’s going to be hard for future British leaders to persuade the country to help the US in another war.

  • everyone involved probably has bomb-making skills. It’s not like we are going to capture one guy and the rest of Al-Queda is going to throw its hands into the air and say, "Guess it’s over fellows*
    “Oh, Habib. Why did I not pay more attention in class. If only our wise teacher had not been killed. Was it green to red, or green to bla…”

Overall I think terrorism has gained and will gain due to current actions of the US government. The best proof being that Al Qaeda is a product of the Afghan War, CIA and US meddling in Middle East policies of the past. Will americans 20 years from now associate current policies to future terrorism acts ?

If the solution is accepting a certain level of terrorism… police work or acting upon it with excessive foreign policy is another issue.

I’m sorry, but the mentality of most in the Bush Admin. is such that they would read your OP and then ask you, “What’s your cousin’s name?”

Excellent OP, though. I note no one has even tried to refute any of your points. I guess Bush Admin. supporters will have to concede your points in all further posts on this board.

There’s also the whole problem of, if your actions create new enemies faster than you kill the old ones, you eventually lose. No matter how well it seems you’re doing in the short run.

Our Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld, pointed this out a couple of years ago. Don’t ask me why he didn’t listen. (Maybe he considered the source.)

In the wake of 9/11, when a wave of sympathy for America swept the world - yes, even the Muslim world - it seemed pretty obvious how to win this war: build on that wave of sympathy, enlist the aid of the many who considered al-Qaeda a greater evil than America, and dry up the sea of public support or at least acquiescence which terrorist groups need in order to thrive. Once you do that, you can hunt the terrorists down and capture or kill them.

Instead, for the past four years, we have consistently acted in a way that’s drawn down that reservoir of support. We have consistently pushed Muslims away from us along the spectrum from being gung-ho America fans to being gung-ho AQ supporters. I’m not saying we’ve moved anyone from one extreme to the other, but in order to lose, we don’t need to: all we need to do is keep on pushing everyone another step away from believing we stand for something good, and towards sympathy for those who take up arms against us, and over time there’ll be fewer Muslims in our corner, and more Muslims either ready to take up arms against us, or willing to shelter and conceal those who do.

That’s what happens when we bomb innocent people, when we torture, when we invade one of their countries without cause, when we spend a lot of money supposedy to rebuild this country, and big chunks of it just vanish without doing them any good.

It’s hard for me to believe any more that this Administration particularly cares about ‘winning’ the WoT, whatever that would mean: it’s proved to be a wondrously successful political racket for them; why not just keep it going forever?

RTFirefly has it - the squandering of the sympathy and empathy and support was such a pointless and divisive waste. (Though, even that terrible night, with Fox showing a few asshole Palestinians celebrating 9/11, one kind of worried that it would come to this - but maybe not as badly as it did.) What a shame.

It’s also a shame that the OP is so brilliant, cogent, and supported. Anyone who would oppose your statements will surely look at it and run away, pre-defeated by the arguments and cites. You should have included a glaring mistake or two to get the nitpickers in.

And I agree with you totally. Which isn’t much of a debate, is it?

Excellent argument. I and many others here and elsewhere have condemned this war from the time it was first spoken of.

Military action is far too blunt an instrument to use in this situation. I think an analog of the means of handling a disease epidemic would be more effective.

Look for the cause of the malady. Isolate, or try to isolate, those carrying the malady. Secure international cooperation in that isolation. See if your actions, methods and policies are helping the spead the malady.

Silly stuff like that.

as if…

…thank you all for your positive comments, the OP really did take a long time to research and type. :slight_smile: But as Malodorous said, “I don’t necessarily agree with everything”, surely my case cannot be as strong as you guys suggest. My central position is that the United States War Against Terror has hurt the global war on terrorism, a position that I am absolutely sure that many members of this board disagree with, yet I see them arguing that position in other threads. If you have arguments and positions that can show my core arguement wrong, I would love to see them and have my ignorance fought. (Apologies for the delay, after I had to depart for a very long tea I had to go supervise some Corporate Boxes at the Rugby Sevens!)

I would like nothing less than to be proven wrong. The thought that the worlds strongest superpower is undertaking a “war” that is making it harder to find terrorists worldwide is frightening. I stand accused (in another thread that I won’t bump) of being ignorant of military realities. I don’t believe that to be the case, but if you would like, come over here and prove me wrong I am ready and waiting…

I’m not really interested in debating it per se, but you wanted to hear contrary opinions, so …

Yes, it has. But many others, like myself, have somewhat tepidly supported the current US policy not because we were completely convinced it was absolutely right, but because we weren’t hearing any persuasive alternatives.

I am prepared to believe that all of the specifics in the OP – and even more – and yet reject the overall analysis. For one, because I presumed beforehand that there would be innumerable clusterfluffs; such is the nature of war. Hearing about the specifics is depressing, but only decisive for people who had some sort of wildly inflated notion about government/admin efficiency or competence beforehand.

But more essentially, because detailing the failures and inadequacies of one policy is not a substitute for proposing an preferable alternative. As little confidence as I have in George W Bush, I will still take him and his policies over those who either do not percieve a real threat or those who think it is something that can be solved by calling in the UN or somesuch.


Good answer Furt… I think the problem is that the alternatives to the current policies ring of “appeasement”, “being weak”, etc… Anyone suggesting these would be seen as bad on defense. Like a lynch mob the US demanded a villain to be hanged.

Bush might not care much for diplomacy but he understood very well how he could milk 9/11. Its all about internal politics and not foreign policy. Eventually though the foreign policy bites back… and Iraq certainly is eroding Bush’s support but only 3-4 years later.