When Will the Lying Western Press Stop Using the Term “Al-Qaeda,” When Referring To Saudi Terrorism?

[The all-encompassing term “al-Qaeda,” is a descriptive term, used when referring to the principle of Saudi/Wahhabi oversight.  There is no such animal as “al-Qaeda,” the alleged international terrorist organization, but there IS a Saudi terrorist organization of global reach.  The supposedly super-scary Algerian incident was NOT the work of an International Islamist, but simply the work of Algerian militant Muslims.  The alleged “all-Qaeda” link is the Saudi/Wahhabi influence that makes news-bites from all such groups sound the same.  That is all the Western press needs to create the myth of AL-Q.  Every step taken over the years by the group of terrorists known as Al-Q is a step taken by the Saudi royals, to implement their own agenda (which is shared with the CIA), moving in an ocean of petrodollars, hoping to secure their own global empire.  CIA patronage of this Saudi “Islamist” force for many decades, is the controlling power which allows the Saudis to keep expanding their subversive reach, while enabling them to direct where the Islamists are allowed to blow-off jihadi steam, without damaging Saudi/US interests.  

 Juhayman Otaibi, leader of Grand Mosque Siege

The radical Islamists of Saudi Arabia, since their siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, have been on the Saudi payroll.  As part of the surrender deal, the most tenacious survivors of the Mosque pacification were hired as full-time jihadis and then packed-off to Peshawar and Jalalabad, to wage their Wahhabi jihad against the godless Communists.  Since that time, succeeding Wahhabi-influenced jihadis have either been packed-off to Jihads in Europe and Asia, or else have been paid millions of dollars in protection money to stay away from Saudi Arabia.  The “al-Qaeda” that we have since come to know and adore (now planning our lives around them) is a complete fabrication, which is neither growing stronger, nor will ever really fade away.  On that basis, the following article is just another part of the organized deception.  

Using the term “al-Qaeda” to describe specific attacks is a malicious attempt to  falsely imply an international terrorist angle when describing natural nationalistic militant reactions to Western neo-colonialism, hoping to create a “red herring” behind which to hide outrage to the re-colonization of former Empire territories.  Whenever Western corporations begin to move-in for the mass-pillaging of natural resources militants must, by their nature, rise-up to defend their homelands.  The fact that they are Muslims by birth qualifies them to be called “Islamists” by the Western disinformation (news) agencies.  It is high time to break the cycle of lies that insulates the current and former American and Western administrations from reaping their own outraged reactions from their own constituents for manufacturing this “terrorist” bogeyman.]

Al-Qaida: how great is the terrorism threat to the west now?

In the aftermath of the Algerian hostage crisis, David Cameron issued an ominous warning of the continued threat from terrorism. But is al-Qaida more, or less, dangerous than before?

Hostages surrender to Islamist gunmen who overtook the gas plant in the Algerian desert

Hostages surrender to Islamist gunmen who overtook the gas plant in the Algerian desert. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Last week the world took another step towards succumbing to an existential threat. Again.

Speaking in the aftermath of the spectacular seizure and siege of an Algerian gas refinery by Islamist extremists 10 days ago, David Cameron warned of how “we face a large and existential terrorist threat from a group of extremists based in different parts of the world who want to do the biggest possible amount of damage to our interests and way of life”.

There was little further detail, leaving it unclear if the prime minister was referring to al-Qaida, the group founded by the late Osama bin Laden 25 years ago. Or possibly al-Qaida-type groups in the middle of the Saharan desert. Or maybe other offshoots around the world. Or possibly the ideology of al-Qaida.

However, the broad thrust of what he was saying was obvious: if you thought the threat from al-Qaida, however defined, had gone away, you were wrong. It is here, and will be here for decades to come. And it endangers the very foundation of our societies. The intervening week, one imagines, replete as it was with a range of shootings, bombings, arrests and court judgments across the world all involving Islamist extremism, has not improved things.

Such rhetoric was once familiar. We heard much of it in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and through the months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But as the years have passed however, such pronouncements of imminent danger became rarer. The public naturally learned to be suspicious of rhetoric raising fears that appeared unreasonable and unfounded. We all learned enough about the complex phenomenon of contemporary Islamist militancy to be able to challenge the sillier claims ourselves. Policymakers recognised that any exaggeration, particularly of the “global” nature of a threat that their own security services were increasingly seeing as local, simply played into the hands of the enemy.

So Cameron’s words last week, echoed elsewhere, were unexpected.

Rather like al-Qaida’s own rhetoric in the wake of the changes wrought by the Arab spring, they sounded dated; at worst, they were an indication of wilful ignorance, a nostalgia for simpler times when leaders could promise “iron resolve” against a threat without provoking widespread scepticism. They have however usefully provoked a new debate on two very old questions, both still urgent and important: what is al-Qaida? And is it more or less dangerous than it was?

Answering the first question is, for once, relatively straightforward. Islamist militancy is a phenomenon going back much further than the foundation of the group al-Qaida by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden in 1988. There have been waves of revivalism in the Muslim world since the days of the Prophet Muhammad. These have frequently come in response to external challenges, whether political, social, cultural and military. Intense and very varied reactions were provoked by European colonialism in the 19th century from Afghanistan to Algeria, from Morocco to Malaysia and beyond. The end of European colonialism in the Muslim world in no way diminished the immediacy of that challenge nor the venality, brutality and incompetence of local regimes. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, scores of different violent extremist movements, in part products of a massive new interest in “Islamism” across the Muslim world, were waging armed struggles against local governments in the name of religion.

Al-Qaida (usually translated as “the base”) was founded – in Pakistan towards the end of the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets – to channel and co-ordinate the dispersed efforts of these movements into a single campaign. It believed that striking at a universally accepted global enemy, the US, would lead to the destruction of “hypocrite” unbelieving regimes across the Muslim world in the short term and, eventually, the creation of a new ill-defined and utopian religious rule. This latter goal was long-term, a cosmic struggle, possibly indefinite and certainly undefinable in terms of time.

Aided by a range of external factors, al-Qaida was to some extent successful in achieving its less abstract aims, striking the US hard and drawing together an unprecedented network of affiliates in the late 1990s. This then helped – particularly by the response to the 9/11 attacks and other operations – disseminate its ideology further than ever before in the noughties.

The high point, however, was reached around 2004 or 2005. Even as it appeared to peak, the wave of extremism was receding. Since then, the central leadership of al-Qaida has suffered blow after blow. It is not just Bin Laden who has been killed or rendered inactive, but pretty much everyone else in the senior and middle ranks of the organisation. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida central, may be an effective, utterly dedicated and experienced organiser but he lacks Bin Laden’s charisma. Saif al Adel, the only other veteran leader remaining, lacks his stature and may not be at liberty at all but detained in Iran.

Key players who few, beyond specialists, had ever heard of – such as the very capable Libyan Atiyah Abd al-Rahman – have gone. British security officials describe “al-Qaida central” as being “hollowed out”, largely by the controversial drone strikes. Equally damaging for the group, al-Qaida’s training infrastructure is minimal, certainly compared with the dozens of fully fledged camps that were in use on the eve of the 9/11 attacks. Back in 2008, according to interrogation documents, handlers were forced to admit to new recruits coming straight from Europe that their facilities unfortunately bore no resemblance to those depicted in recruiting videos.

Nothing has improved since. Volunteers are fewer than before. There are younger members rising up the thinning ranks, but this is promotion by default not merit.

Equally damaging has been the rejection by successive communities over the past two decades. Almost every attempt by al-Qaida central to win genuine popular support has failed – in Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Polls show approval ratings for Bin Laden peaking around 2004-5 and then steep decline. This is particularly true when communities have direct experience of extremist violence or rule. The al-Qaida brand is irremediably tarnished. Even Bin Laden was apparently thinking of relaunching the group under a new name, his correspondence reveals.

The Mumbai terrorist siege had no links with al-Qaida.

The terrorist siege of Mumbai had no links with al-Qaida. Photograph: Sebastian D’souza/APThe two most spectacular attacks in recent years – in Algeria and the strike on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba organisation – were carried out by entities that have, in the first instance, tenuous connections with al-Qaida’s senior leadership and, in the second, none at all. This indicates the degree to which the remnant led by al-Zawahiri have become, at best, only one player among many.

The result is that the centripetal force the group once exerted has gone and we have returned to a situation similar to that of the old “pre-al-Qaida” days with a whole series of different local groups involved in local struggles with negligible central co-ordination.

There are major differences with the previous period, of course. Decades of violence have led to much higher structural levels of radicalisation and polarisation. The technology and tactics used by all protagonists in these current “shadow wars” has evolved. Then there are the consequences of the Arab spring – for the Sahel and Syria and elsewhere. But, nonetheless, the unthinking use of the term al-Qaida, as has so often been the case in the past, obscures rather than illuminate the real chaotic and fractured, if still dynamic, nature of modern Islamist militancy. This is something Cameron’s own security services will have told him.

Of course a threat remains. But the big attacks – those that could potentially pose something a little closer to “an existential threat” – are unlikely. These would need to be in a major European or US city or involve at least one passenger jet. If British intelligence, despite having a team devoted for months to checking and rechecking every possible potential lead, could not come up with a single credible threat to the London Olympics last year and their US counterparts were confident enough to declare a similar lack of immediate danger during the recent presidential campaign, it appears fair to assume that bombs in London or New York are a fairly distant prospect for the moment. The biggest threat to airplanes comes from a single highly proficient bombmaker in the Yemen.

The location of the major spectacular attacks appears closely related to al-Qaida’s ability to focus the dispersed energies of contemporary Sunni Islamist extremism. Through the 1990s, attacks were restricted to targets – in Pakistan, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere – which were distant from western populations, with the exception of the first abortive plot to bomb the World Trade Center in New York in 1993. US troops who were attacked in Somalia in that year in the famous “Blackhawk Down” episode had simply strayed into someone else’s war.

By the late 1990s, US interests were being attacked, but in east Africa or the Yemen. It was only through the first six years of the past decade that the violence approached the west – first in Indonesia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, then in Madrid and London. But since, the dynamic has reversed, tracking the new weakness of the al-Qaida senior leadership. The big attacks still come – but in Islamabad, Mumbai, Kabul, Baghdad, and now in the deserts of the Sahara. Nor do they strike targets that resonate throughout the Muslim world. A gas refinery in southern Algeria is not the Pentagon.

Partly this is due to vastly improved security precautions and competent intelligence services that co-operated much more effectively.

Intermittent attempts to down airplanes have been defeated, if only just. Hundreds of potential troublemakers have been stopped long before they even begin to contemplate actually perpetrating a violent attack. MI5 officials say that, in part due to closer collaboration with a range of other agencies and particularly the police, they are able to head off possible threats much earlier. One compared their operations to the famously tedious stonewall tactics of the Arsenal team 20 years ago. “It’s boring but it works,” he said.

There is, of course, the fear of a “lone wolf”, a solo, self-radicalising extremist. The example most often cited is Mohamed Merah, the French-Algerian who killed three soldiers as well as three Jewish schoolchildren and a teacher last March.

A spokesman for Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the man who orchestrated the recent refinery attack in Algeria, told French media on Monday that France could expect “dozens like … Merah and Khaled Kelkal” who would spontaneously rise up to kill and maim.

Islamist militia leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar

Islamist militia leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who orchestrated the Amenas refinery attack in Algeria. Photograph: APBut real lone wolves are extremely rare. Kelkal, who carried out a series of attacks in France in 1995, plugged into a broader network of militants run and recruited by Algerian groups active at the time. Merah did the shooting on his own but came from a family steeped in extremist versions of Islam and anti-Semitism, had been to Afghanistan and Pakistan to train and was, French and Pakistani officials say, connected to Moez Garsalloui, a high-profile known Belgian militant, now dead, who had been recruiting widely and was well-known to intelligence services. Merah was thus not only part of an old style of terrorism – recruits making their way to the badlands of Pakistan to get trained and then returning to carry out attacks – but was also much less effective than predecessors such as those responsible for the 7/7 attacks in London. The number of people making that journey is now a fraction of the levels of six or seven years ago. Back then, scores, if not hundreds, made their way to the Afghan-Pakistan frontier to fight alongside the Taliban or other groups. Now the number is in the low dozens, according to intelligence officials in Pakistan, the UK and elsewhere.

The other fear is of a new generation of veteran militants returning from the battlefields of the Sahel to wreak havoc in the US or, more realistically, Europe. There are some reports that Canadian or even French passport-holders were among those who attacked the refinery. However, there are two reasons to be relatively sanguine.

Islamist fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine in Mali.

Islamist fighters from the Islamist group Ansar Dine in Mali. Photograph: APFirst, the facilities available for training in the region are minimal and there would seem to be no reason why extremists graduating in terrorist studies from there would be better able to carry out effective mass casualty attacks than men such as Merah.

Second, we are yet to see a wave of violence involving veterans of much more longlasting and extensive violence elsewhere in the Maghreb or the core of the Middle East. British intelligence officials pointed to the experience of the horrific conflict in Iraq when asked about the possibility of veterans of the current fighting in Syria, where extremist religious groups are playing an increasingly significant role, posing a threat to the UK. Only one attack – the abortive 2007 London and Glasgow strikes – has been definitively linked to someone involved in that previous conflict, and he was not a former fighter. Iraqi veterans have proved dangerous in Saudi, even in Afghanistan and in the Maghreb. But that is not the same as posing a direct existential threat to the west. There seems, the officials say, to be no reason why the Syrian theatre should produce a greater threat today than the Iraqi theatre has done. Nor, indeed, Mali.

Does this all mean that Islamist militancy will simply die away? Of course not. A phenomenon with such long and complex roots will evolve rather than disappear. That is what is currently happening in this new post-al-Qaida phase. Wherever the various factors that allow the “Salafi-Jihadi” ideology to get traction are united, there is likely to be violence. Extremists do, as Cameron said, “thrive when they have ungoverned spaces in which they can exist, build and plan” and the aftermath of the Arab spring has not just opened up new terrain but also exacerbated existing problems of lawlessness and criminality. Flows of arms from Libya have made a bad situation worse.

And if you take the fighting in Mali and the attack on the refinery, and add it to a list of all the incidents occurring around the globe involving extremist Islamist violence, it is undoubtedly a frightening picture.

In the last few days there were arrests in the Philippines, anti-terrorist operations in Indonesia, deaths in Pakistan (due to infighting between extremist groups), air raids in Afghanistan on suspected al-Qaida bases,battles in the Yemen, shootings and executions in Iraq following the release of a video showing brutal executions, reports of trials in the UK and Germany as well as fighting in Mali.

But does this all add up to al-Qaida 3.0, more dangerous than ever before? There’s a simple test. Think back to those dark days of 2004 or 2005 and how much closer the violence seemed. Were you more frightened then, or now? The aim of terrorism is to inspire irrational fear, to terrorise. Few are as fearful today as they were back then. So that means there are two possibilities: we are wrong, ignorant or misinformed, and should be much more worried than we are; or our instincts are right, and those responsible for the violence are as far from posing an existential threat as they have ever been.

• This article was amended on 29 January 2013. The abortive attacks on London and Glasgow took place in 2007, not 2006 as originally stated.

The Guardian

Ariel Sharon Coming Out of His Coma Just In Time for Armegeddon

Ariel Sharon source

[Where are all the assassins when you need one?]

Israel: After seven years in a coma Sharon ‘signs of activity’ brain

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Last Updated: January 29, at 13:06

Jerusalem, January 29 (Adnkronos) – After seven years in a coma, Ariel Sharon shows ‘significant’ signals ‘activity’ brain. ” He revealed the team of Israeli doctors and American Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva have put the former prime minister to a series of tests. In a vegetative state since 2006 as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage, Sharon, now 84 year old, responds to external stimuli and the activity ‘brain’ increased when the fixtures, as reported by the Israeli media, they showed him pictures of his family and made listen to a recording with the voice of the child. It is, doctors said, of “encouraging signs”, although this does not necessarily translate into a probable awakening from coma.

America’s Plans for “Islamist” Greater Middle East Collapsing In Chaos

Egypt Army chief warns state could “collapse”

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A masked Egyptian protester flashes the victory sign during clashes with riot police, background, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Jan. 28, 2013.

A masked Egyptian protester flashes the victory sign during clashes with riot police, background, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Jan. 28, 2013. / AP

CAIROEgypt’s army chief warned Tuesday of “the collapse of the state” if the political crisis roiling the nation for nearly a week continues.

 

The warning by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, also the defense minister, comes as the country sinks deeper into chaos and lawlessness. Attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president to stem a wave of political violence appear to have made no headway.

 

Some 60 people have been killed in the unrest that began last Thursday.

 

El-Sissi’s warning came in an address to military academy cadets. His comments were posted on the armed forces’ official Facebook page.

 

“The continuation of the conflict between the different political forces and their differences over how the country should be run could lead to the collapse of the state and threaten future generations,” he said.

 

President Mohammed Morsi, right, meets Lt. Abdul Fattah El-SissiPresident Mohammed Morsi, right, meets Lt. Abdul Fattah El-Sissi, Minister of Defense at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 13, 2012.

 / AP

 

It is unclear whether el-Sissi, the former head of military intelligence, meant to try and coax anti-government protesters off the streets with his dire warning, or whether he was himself questioning President Mohammed Morsi’s ability to quell the unrest.

 

Protesters battled police for hours in Cairo on Monday and thousands marched through Egypt’s three Suez Canal cities in direct defiance of a night-time curfew and state of emergency, handing a blow to the Morsi’s attempts to contain five days of spiraling political violence.

 

Nearly 60 people have been killed in the wave of unrest, clashes, rioting and protests that have touched cities across the country but have hit the hardest in the canal cities, where residents have virtually risen up in outright revolt.

 

The latest death came on Monday in Cairo, where a protester died of gunshot wounds as youths hurling stones battled all day and into the night with police firing tear gas near Qasr el-Nil Bridge, a landmark over the Nile next to major hotels. In nearby Tahrir Square, protesters set fire to a police armored personnel carrier, celebrating as it burned in scenes reminiscent of the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

 

CBS News’ Alex Ortiz reports that the lobby and shops in the ground floor of Cairo’s sprawling Intercontinental Hotel were smashed up and looted by a gang of people during the melee on Monday. It was unclear whether the looters were part of the opposition protest, or simply criminal elements taking advantage of the lack of security in the area. Nobody was injured at the hotel, which is frequented by Westerners.

 

“I will be coming back here every day until the blood of our martyrs is avenged,” said 19-year-old carpenter Islam Nasser, who wore a Guy Fawkes mask as he battled police near Tahrir square.

Angry and at times screaming and wagging his finger, Morsi on Sunday declared a 30-day state of emergency and a nighttime curfew on the three Suez Canal cities of Suez, Ismailiya and Port Said and their provinces of the same names. He said he had instructed the police to deal “firmly and forcefully” with the unrest and threatened to do more if security was not restored.

 

But when the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew began Monday evening, crowds marched through the streets of Port Said, beating drums and chanting, “Erhal, erhal,” or “Leave, leave” — a chant that first rang out during the 18-day uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 but is now directed at Morsi.

 

“We completely reject Morsi’s measures. How can we have a curfew in a city whose livelihood depends on commerce and tourism?” said Ahmed Nabil, a schoolteacher in the Mediterranean coastal city.

 

In Suez and Ismailiya, thousands in the streets after curfew chanted against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which he hails. In Suez, residents let off fireworks that lit the night sky.

 

“Oh Morsi, Suez has real men,” they chanted.

 

In Ismailiya, residents organized street games of soccer to emphasize their contempt for the curfew and state of emergency.

 

On Morsi’s orders over the weekend, army troops backed with tanks and armored vehicles have deployed in Port Said and Suez — the two cities worst hit by the violence — to restore security, but they did not intervene to enforce the curfew on Monday night.

 

The commander of the Third Field Army in charge of Suez, Maj. Gen. Osama Askar, said his troops would not use force to ensure compliance. Army troops in Port Said also stood by and watched as residents ignored the curfew.

 

Adding to Morsi’s woes nearly seven months into his turbulent presidency, the main political opposition coalition on Monday rejected his invitation for a dialogue to resolve the crisis, one of the worst and deadliest to hit Egypt in the two years since Mubarak’s ouster.

 

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© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc.

Deflating the Post-2014 Terrorist Scare

Post-2014 Terrorist Threat in Central Asia: Keeping it Real

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Post image for Post-2014 Terrorist Threat in Central Asia: Keeping it Real

 

Contributed by Nathan Barrick

Is there a terrorist threat to Central Asia after the ISAF drawdown in Afghanistan in 2014?

In recent publications, the warnings range from an imminent FATA-like region of militant-dominated, ungoverned space in the Ferghana Valley to the “these are not the terrorists you’re looking for” Jedi mind trick “2014 Central Asia looks a lot like 2012 Central Asia”. However, Nathan Hamm, in “Central Asia 2014: The Terror”, makes the excellent point that:

“Assessments of the risk of terrorism need to capture the scale and timeline for the risk.”

In the many years I’ve spent studying Central Asia, I’ve found that most viewpoints tend to extremes – whether in the service of academia, national security, or policy-making. Rarely are the positions expressed moderated by reality, even if the experts expressing those views have much more balanced and nuanced personal understandings of the region through travel, study, and personal relationships. So, let’s “keep it real” about terrorism in post-2014 Central Asia…

Firstly, Hamm is exactly right – 2014 in Central Asia is very likely to look a lot like 2012 in Central Asia, especially if we do not see any changes in national leadership. The drawdown of ISAF in Afghanistan will likely be timelined for a very late 2014 departure. Even if, in the worst of all possible worlds, terrorists were just waiting behind Afghanistan’s Central Asian borders to rush across following the last trains, planes, and automobiles of ISAF’s retrograde – we still would probably not see terrorist attacks in Central Asia in 2014 as the threat-heavy perspective might envision. In reality, terrorist planning for major attacks is assessed to take six months to a couple years before the execution. Central Asian terrorists are much more likely to be focused on assisting their Pakistani and Afghan allies in attempting to garner tactical successes against a retreating ISAF and a not-likely-to-be-so-self-reliant Afghan National Army, than to be devoting efforts to attack planning in Central Asia.

Therefore, from a “normal” terrorist threat perspective, we might not see the actual impact of ISAF withdrawal, even assuming worst case futures in Afghanistan, until at least mid-2016 or even 2017.

Additionally, regardless of how precipitous a US departure occurs — an as yet unknown variable – one oft-repeated US strategic priority for a minimum effort is a focus on counterterrorism abilities. We are not likely to see programs like drone strikes summarily grounded, which argues against terrorist groups having very much added freedom of maneuver to establish the training camps and bases needed to deliberately project terrorist attacks into Central Asia. Realistically, this pushes the redline for increased threat of terror attacks, that are a direct result of ISAF’s 2014 departure from Afghanistan, even further to the future. Also affecting the timeline, there will be a new U.S. President elected in late 2016, inaugurated in 2017, with a possible – not likely to be implemented in a first-term, first year – curtailment of counterterrorist operations to a more realistic timeline for the “post-2014” terrorist threat to Central Asia in mid-2018 to late 2019.

National security decision-makers from any country must take the stated intentions of terrorist groups seriously. A “more realistic” timeline for this particular threat does not mean Central Asian governments can ignore the threat, nor will they — multiple terrorist groups seek to change the regimes in Central Asia. There is another dynamic for Central Asian governments to consider from this perspective: over the next six years the uncertainty regarding succession or government transition is likely to worsen. Except for Kyrgyzstan, the other governments face the prospect of long-term rulers of advanced age who may pass away suddenly, as Turkmenistan’s Niyazov did in December 2006, or any number of other possible succession scenarios. Undoubtedly, unless a new leader has an obvious Islamist character, an unlikely prospect, these terrorist groups, or new groups formed and motivated by post-2014 developments, will attempt to challenge new governments at such a critical stage of vulnerability.

Whether this security dilemma prompts the existing rulers to try to maintain more draconian grips on power or whether security organizations naturally drift to assessing and preparing for these threats, there is likely to be a gradual increase in the repressive tactics that are a two-edged sword for the regimes. On the one edge, these governments can argue that their security forces have successfully protected their countries and handled the threats that have occurred. On the other sharper edge, as many experts in Western countries believe, these security practices have prompted civil discontent and facilitated recruitment and motivation for the anti-regime objectives of the terrorist groups.

ZennDonnelly, and others have highlighted the “return” of hundreds, or even thousands, of terrorists from the Afghanistan-Pakistan area of operations to Central Asia as a cause for concern. I believe the numbers need to be better scrutinized. While it is possible for a group of only 19 committed, and suicidal, terrorists to conduct a massively catastrophic attack, we have not seen this type of attack by known Central Asian terrorist groups. In fact, while the prospect of fighting infidel superpowers, propagandized as suppressing Muslims, drew terrorists like moths to a flame in Afghanistan and Iraq, the motivation for these volunteers to take on the autocratic, nominally Muslim governments of predominantly moderate Muslim countries is considerably less. We are unlikely to see Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, or Tajikistan top the “Most Hated” target list for salafist jihadist violent extremist organizations. It is more likely that the number of terrorists who want to take the fight to Central Asia will only be a small fraction of the current members of those groups and those will find it difficult to surreptitiously return and actively, rapidly generate a significant capacity for operational tempo. Further, we have not seen Afghans migrate to help other Muslims fight their wars, and it’s not likely to start in a few years. The bonds of warrior brotherhood and obligation that the foreign fighters have developed in Afghanistan are more likely to earn them a temporary home, if they are successful, rather than the participation of their Afghan allies in operations outside Afghanistan.

Of genuine concern is that a core element of these Central Asian terrorist groups will have learned what is called “hybrid warfare” – the blend of conventional, asymmetric, irregular, terrorist, criminal and cyber capabilities that have characterized this conflict in the past several years. This group of insurgent experts could attempt to combine their lethal capabilities with a popular protest movement, like those revolutions in the Arab world. Had the events and results of Tunisia and Egypt alone described that phenomenon, we may have seen more sympathetic movements arise in Central Asia. However, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria have daunted would be organizers of such protests in Central Asia. Over the next several years though, globalization, continued development and success of popular movements desiring political change, and perceived opportunities in Central Asian political transitions, may generate similar momentum in Central Asia. Central Asia has a history of syncretic developments and a terrorist-hijacked popular movement is a possibility, even if remote.

Lastly, and the details of this point will be left to another time in the service of brevity, the particulars of each Central Asia terrorist group need to be examined to assess the likelihood of how much capability or capacity they might be able to shift to conducting operations in post-2014 Central Asia. There are significant differences between the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, East Turkestan Independence Movement, Jund al-Khalifa, and the Caucasus Emirate, as well as other jamaats that are part of the Central Asian terrorist threat picture. These groups have experienced leadership losses and changes, as well as operational or strategic developments that have affected their ability or capacity to wage war in Central Asia. In general, it is worth considering that each of these organizations will face a decisive moment within twelve months of ISAF’s departure from Afghanistan and those strategic choices may affect those organizations for years following. An example illustrating this for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is Christopher Anzalone’s excellent article.

In conclusion, the post-2014 terrorist threat environment in Central Asia is not something to be alarmist towards in terms of “doing something about it” before 2014. Our focus on this issue should address: “How much continued sponsorship to other countries’ counterterrorism efforts can the U.S. afford to provide after 2014?” and “How will our own counterterrorism strategy shift?” Within that perspective, more realistic appraisals of the evolving security and stability threats in Central Asia can be made and better informed decisions reached regarding U.S. security cooperation with each Central Asian state.

Nathan Barrick is a former U.S. Army Russia-Eurasia specialist with a Master’s Degree in Russia, Eurasian, and East European Studies from Stanford University. He has provided over a decade of subject matter expert consulting on Central Asia to a variety of customers, including the U.S. government. This article represents his own opinion and should not be construed as representing any official position or endorsement.