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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Name that Poison: Pick a type of terrorism

Well, what follows is from the HuffPo, so take it for what it's worth. But it does lay out, in between sniping at "unwinnable wars," a distinction between "Big Terrorism" ("Nagasaki") and "Little Terrorism" ("low intensity terrorism") or, as I prefer to think of it, Home Run Terrorism versus Small Ball Terrorism.

See Terrorism According to a Low Intensity Guy**:
The "Nagasaki" theory of terrorism is based on Osama Bin Laden's instructions that each attack needs to be bigger than the last one and that the important scoreboard is body count. The name is based on chatter in which a high ranking Al-Qaida commander suggested that the next attack on US soil be not only bigger than 9-11 but will also cause more death than the atomic bombs that ended World War II. In short it is terrorism perpetrated -- and taken very seriously -- by "Big Bangers"

In contrast, the "low intensity conflict" view steals a term from the British army who fought such guerrilla battles in India, Palestine and Ireland. In the words of Michael Collins and Martin McGuiness (who ironically joined the British government this week) the "job of a terrorist is to terrorize." A hit and run, blowing up a rail road line, shooting an agent at home in his bed (or even better in bed with his lover), can be more damaging than the Big Bang. The disruption of way of life, the impact on commerce can be far more destabilizing than the occasional Nagasaki blast, goes the theory.
Of course, even in baseball, "small ball" teams will take the home run if it's available. The terrorist menu is a continuum - the very concept is to take what your opponent gives you.

The secret to fighting the terrorist is to not provide him space in which to operate. The "Dix Six" discovered, perhaps because they aren't all that bright, that an ordinary American citizen can spot unusual activity and put the kibosh on it if made aware of the threat. Unlike the friendly confines of some Middle Eastern countries, the sea* in which would be "domestic terrorists' would swim is not that fiendly to them.

See also Flight 93.

*Although it pertains to guerrilla warfare, Mao had it right:
The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.


**The author of the HuffP piece:
James Mulvaney is president of Tactical Intelligence Services, Inc., a New York based company that provides risk, security and intelligence services to entities around the world. Over the past year he has given anti-terrorist briefings to high ranking intelligence officials from Asia, Africa and Latin America. He is a former journalist and foreign correspondent who won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1996.
Mr. Mulvaney's Pulitzer apparently was:
Awarded to the staff of The Orange County Register, Santa Ana, Calif., for reporting that uncovered fraudulent and unethical fertility practices at a leading research university hospital and prompted key regulatory reforms.

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