On July 22 Al-Qaeda in Iraq launched attacks on the prisons of Abu Ghraib and Taji, freeing as many as 800 prisoners. On July 27, an attack in Benghazi, Libya, freed more than 1,000 inmates, on July 29 more than 150 heavily armed Pakistani Taliban (affiliated to al-Qaeda) attacked the prison in Dera Ismail Khan freeing more than 250 prisoners and then drove away in a convoy in one of the most heavily militarised regions in the world.
Whether elements from within each one of these states was involved or not is not the object of this post, lets examine why Al-Qaeda has adopted a new tactic as suggested by Ahmed Rashid in the FT. Mr Rashid it is simple, it is a talent crunch that is being addressed by prison breaks! its head hunting with IEDs and AK47s!
There has been an influx of Al-Qaeda jihadists into Syria with the hope of creating an Al-Qaeda state in Middle Earth but engaging the Syrian Army backed by urban warfare specialists (Hezbollah) in a warped conventional sense has lead to unexpected heavy losses and hence a shortage of necessary talent in Syria and other theaters where Al-Qaeda and its affiliates are operating. No where else have Al-Qaeda jihadists faced such stiff opposition as they are facing in Syria from the Syrian national Army and Hezbollah (who have more experience of fighting in urban theaters than the Al-Qaeda jihadists). Al-Qaeda though suffering losses is committed to the cause, calling in re-enforcements from as far afield as Pakistan! The net effect of which has been a global talent crunch for Al-Qaeda that is being addressed by prison breaks.
Right now for Al-Qaeda recruitment and on-boarding cannot keep up with the losses in the field! and for that we have Syria’s tyrant and the Hezbollah to thank!
This is a great opportunity if our policy makers can capitalise on it – the opportunity to deal a significant long term blow to Al-Qaeda and its ability to commit and export terror! A significant win for our camps in the Long War! At the moment our policy makers in London, DC and Brussels are guilty of the same sin as the Pakistani ISI… looking both ways! and there is much to be learned from the outcome of the ISI dancing with the devil!
Those of us who live in the realm of common sense know that targeting the ability of an organisation to acquire talent affects the ability of the organisation to operate effectively in the ‘now’ as well as its ability to grow in the future. Its time for soft war to take the front seat, its time to dent the ability of extremist networks to recruit and retain, time to go to war on their talent! its time to support Peace Through Prosperity; a preventive approach — intervention before individuals are radicalized and recruited.
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