Monday, 4 January 2016

AlShabaab and Donald Trump – Building the Fifth Column

Al-Qaeda perceives the American political system as foundational to its National Integrity. By assaulting it, Al-Qaeda's affiliate, Al-Shabaab, hopes to undermine it. Remarkably, counter-terrorism analysts have also observed that Islamists are able to achieve most of their objectives (and goals) when the Democratic Party rules the US, as compared to administrations led by the Republican Party. The leftist (liberal) inclination of the Democratic Party drives Democrat-led administrations to inadvertently support Islamist projects, especially when it sacrifices national interests on the altar of multiculturalism and political correctness, which decrees toleration of Islamism. On New Year day of 2016, Al-Shabaab released a video documentary aimed at widening the racial rifts in the US, besides gaining followers among the African-American population. Likewise, it projected Donald Trump as an enemy of Islam, and the intention of this calculated move was to vilify the Republican Party by casting it as an enemy of Islam; as well as stealthily entreating American Muslims and Black Americans to vote for the Democratic Party in the upcoming elections.
Poster of the Terror recruitment video: The Path to Paradise - Episode 2
Islamic terrorists are known to cynically exploit existing communal grievances to further their goals and objectives. Another matter of note is the fact that most grand strategists of Global Jihad - including those embedded in Al-Shabaab – understand the principles of Fourth-generation warfare (4GW) [1]. Accordingly, Al-Shabaab (HSM) uses 4GW elements to guide its multifaceted asymmetric war against the militaries and cultures, as well as the national psyches (of the civilian population) of its adversaries. This was evident on 1st January 2016, when Al-Shabaab - through its flagship media outlet, Al-Kataib Foundation for Media Productions - used the media element to fortify its asymmetric warfare capabilities [2]. Through its release entitled The Path to Paradise 2 - a sequel to an earlier video documentary, The Path to Paradise - HSM was able to garner substantial (international) media attention, which also allowed it to dent the public image of the Republican Party before a perplexed audience.
Purposeful Politics and Salafi Jihadism
The consummate doctrine of Al-Shabaab mandates that political objectives must be achieved under the cloak of religious devoutness. Using Salafism as a vehicle to manage purposeful politics, Al-Shabaab has been able to guide its strategic planning towards gaining religious legitimacy and ideologically-committed recruits, in addition to mobilizing its followers to commit their energies and resources towards achieving a set of concrete goals. The strategists in Al-Qaeda  and its offshoot, Al-Shabaab, have learnt the art of exploiting secular politics with the intent of guiding and influencing the native political processes towards accomplishing specific goals, including the gradual weakening of the secular establishment, as well as the dissemination (and entrenchment) of Jihadi-Salafi ideology within the target population.
Remarkably, the grand strategies employed by violent Islamists are derived from non-Islamic sources, partly due to the inherent intellectual [3] and social [4] inferiority of Islamic cultures. A cursory look at their strategies shows heavy reliance on the stratagems laid down by Yusuf al-Ayiri, Abu Bakr Naji, Abu Ubayd al-Qurashi, Abu al-Fadl and Abu Musab al-Suri [5]. The aforementioned architects of Global jihad, despite their ingenuity, were not wholesome original thinkers, with their strategies closely tracking those formulated by Mao-Tse Tung, Che Guevara, William Lind, Thomas Hammes, Thomas Barnett and Carl von Clausewitz [6].
Useful Idiot
During the Bush Administration, Jihadists suffered significant setbacks in all their theaters of war including Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Algeria, Bosnia, and Chechnya. However, under the Obama administration, Jihadists have experienced a renaissance across the globe - to the extent that the Islamic State has been able to carve and administer large swathes of territories in Iraq and Syria, while its franchises in Nigeria, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya enjoy significant military successes as gauged by their territorial conquests. Al-Qaeda has also been able to experience resurgence in Africa and Asia - mainly in Somalia, Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Syria and Pakistan. In hindsight, both Al-Qaeda  and the Islamic State have benefitted tremendously from the inadequacies of the Obama administration - and the ideologies espoused by the Democratic Party in general [7].
To boot, the Obama administration has permitted Islamists to commit mass atrocities and gross human rights violations against non-Muslims - and minority communities - in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, and Egypt among other nations [8]. It can also be summed up that the Obama administration has eroded American Exceptionalism, irreparably damaged its global dominance, and also ruined global security. This has accelerated the decay of the present global order. These lessons have not been lost to Islamists, and most of them agree that the continuation of Democrat-led administration serves their interests, as such an administration not only weakens the U.S, but it also erodes the national values of the American people. Correspondingly, this mollifies the fighting spirit - and resilience - of the American people to deal with global jihad.
In his masterpiece, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Edward Gibbon saliently notes that a leader of inferior dignity normally staffs critical administrative positions with unqualified (inferior) persons, who also tend to exhibit voracious insolence. Consequently, this jeopardizes the management of national assets, and eventually drives an empire to ruin. The US is headed in this direction under the Obama Administration, even though the TEA (Tax Enough Already) party movement and Republican activism have tried to stymie the decline.
Historical Antecedents
Even so, why did the U.S tolerate the formation and maturation of armed Islamist groups? The answer to this question lies in the geopolitical maneuvers the U.S conducted in Central Asia in the early 1990s. Following the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, the US did use Islamists in Central Asia as armed proxies to forestall the resurgence of post-communist Russia. For this reason, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were tolerated by the US, but only for the time being [9]. Jamal Hamdan argued that the fall of the Soviet Union prematurely elevated the US to the position of sole superpower at a time when the US was unable to unilaterally maintain a new global order [10]. This compelled the U.S to use proxies to undermine its rivals across the globe - with Islamists serving as the proxy counter-weight to Russia's reassertion of dominance across Central Asia. Similarly, Abu al-Fadl - one of Al-Qaeda’s foremost strategists - noted that the Democrats tended to favor policies which degraded the ability of the US to unilaterally maintain global order, while the Republicans favored conservatism and reassertion of American might as the sole unilateral global power. Thus, according to al-Fadl, Islamists are best able to achieve their goals when the democrats are in power. This was validated in 1993 when Bill Clinton - a democrat - assumed power in the US, and Al-Qaeda used his first term to expand across the globe, and in the process, morph into a multinational terror organization. Its global reach was evident in 1998 when Al-Qaeda was able to bomb the U.S Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. In 2000, Al-Qaeda attacked and decommissioned a naval guided missile destroyer, USS Cole, which had harbored in the port of Aden for refueling. These attacks never attracted large-scale retaliatory attacks from the Democrat administration. To epitomize its global reach and ability to strike the American homeland, Al-Qaeda carried out the September 11 attacks. The Bush Administration retaliated by toppling the Taliban Administration in Afghanistan, and forcing Al-Qaeda’s leaders to be on the run. The Bush Administration also used the momentum of the global war on Islamic terrorism to topple and dismantle another vexing autocratic regime, the Ba’ath regime in Iraq.
Abu al-Fadl - along with Abu Musab al-Suri – quickly noted the resolve of Republicans to combat Islamic Terrorism, and they astutely entreated Islamists to bid their time till a favorable regime in the US came to power post 9/11[11]. Some Islamists bade their time until the Obama administration came to power, before striking with ruthless efficiency, and in the process gained surmountable capabilities - eventually gaining territories in Asia and Africa. Thus, jihadi strategists have pinned some of theirs strategies on exploiting the fated policies of Democrat-led administrations.
Democrats and Jihadists – The Enemy Within
If another Democrat is elected as US president, the decline of the U.S. - and the West in general - will be accelerated. Under the Obama administration, the US has pursued tragic economic, military, and foreign policies that have ruined the US economy and degraded its military potential, as well as mortified its ideological appeal across the world [12]. Continuation of Democratic Party rule in the US would definitely damage the world, even though this coincides with the strategic outlook of Islamists.
The majority of supporters of the Obama administration in the US are leftists, vocal ethnic activists, atheists, LGBT, and other persons who subscribe to devious ideologies, including Islamism [13]. Most of Obama supporters harbor illogical grievances against the US as a nation, and as such, they are most likely to injure its national interests – and they thus serve as the enemy within.
Promoting Jihad among Black-Americans
It is widely acknowledged that violent Jihad appeals to intellectually-feeble individuals who tend to lack appropriate critical analysis skills [14]. This applies to the African-American community, in which a segment of Black-Americans have been enamored by the criminal ideologies promoted by ex-criminals such as Malcolm X, and the violence-prone Nation of Islam [15]. For this segment of the population, violence is glorified, and they can be convinced by Islamists to attack fellow Americans. Still, there’s need to acknowledge that there are prudent Black-Americans who understand that their collective fate is tied to the national trajectory of the US, and most of them, including the renowned neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, have joined fellow Americans in strengthening the US by making the right choices [16].
Even so, Al-Shabaab has identified an exploitable mass within the US who can become a fifth column. Taking advantage of their numbed capabilities to critically analyze the message being conveyed by Islamists, Al-Shabaab aims to recruit irrational Black-Americans into its cause of global jihad, and this is the main aim of the propaganda video, The Path to Paradise 2.
Media Manipulation
One of the principal elements of 4GW is the utilization of sophisticated psychological warfare techniques, mostly through media manipulation, to achieve maximum publicity using non-linear response propagation [17]. Non-linear response propagation basically means that a small perturbation in the discourse of a narrative causes large disproportionate responses. In the video, the small perturbation was the inclusion of a segment of Trump’s speech, and its juxtaposition alongside the words of slain Al-Qaeda cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki; and the large disproportionate response is exemplified by the wide publicity given to this segment of the film by all international media outlets [18], especially American mainstream media, with most liberal media outlets echoing HSM’s message [19]. This allowed Al-Shabaab to gain media prominence. Nonetheless, some media outlets recognized the stealth nature of the message, with Breitbart News openly questioning why Hillary Clinton employed Al-Shabaab’s narrative during her political tussle with Donald Trump [20]. Whether intentional or not, Al-Shabaab has been able to manipulate the international media to advance its cause, as well as propagate its message to a global audience.
[1] Ryan, Michael (2013). Decoding Al-Qaeda's Strategy: The Deep Battle against America. New York: Columbia University Press.
[2] Al-Kataib Media Foundation (2016).  The Path to Paradise 2 [Video file].  AlKataib Foundation for Media Productions.
[3] Khalil, Mohammad Hassan, and Mucahit Bilici (2007). Conversion out of Islam: A study of conversion narratives of former Muslims. The Muslim World 97(1): 111-124.
[4] Ibid.
[5]Ryan, loc.cit.
[6] Ryan, loc.cit.
[7] Geller, Pamela, and Robert Spencer (2010). The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America. New York: Simon and Schuster.
[8] Kelly, James (2015). Not Our Fight Alone: An Analysis of the US Strategy Combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
[9] Stent, Angela (2015). The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton University Press.
[10] Gunaratna, Rohan, and Aviv Oreg (2015). The Global Jihad Movement. Rowman & Littlefield.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Hiro, Dilip (2010). After Empire: The Birth of a Multi-Polar World. New York: Nation Books.
[13] D'souza, Dinesh (2014). Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream. Regnery Publishing.
[14] Victoroff, Jeff (2005). The Mind of the Terrorist A Review and Critique of Psychological Approaches. Journal of Conflict Resolution (49)1: 3-42.
[15] Ovenden, Kevin (1992). Malcolm X: Socialism and Black Nationalism. Bookmarks.
[16] Carson, Ben, and Candy Carson (2014). One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future. Penguin.
[17] Arquilla, John, David Ronfeldt, and Michele Zanini (1999). Networks, Netwar, and Information-Age Terrorism. Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, California; Graduate School of Operational and Information Sciences.
[18] Reuters (2 January 2016). Al-ShabaabTerror Group Uses Trump Clip in Propaganda Film: Analysts. NBC News. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
[19] Ap, Tiffany (2 January 2016). Al-Shabaab recruit video with Trump excerpt: U.S. is racist, anti-MuslimCNN. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
[20] Kassam, Raheem (2 January 2016). AfterThe Trump Terror Vid, Can We Start Calling Her ‘Al Shabaab Media Advisor Hillary Clinton’? Breitbart News. Retrieved 3 January 2016.

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