Updated: [Last night I put down my initial thougthts and today I’m expanding a few sentences with some analysis.]
I’ve said for a long time that AQ and the Taliban pretend to be world Islamists looking for Kalipha as a recruiting tool, but that they are really collective gangs of regional thugs set on temporal power and protection racketeering. Their goal is (and was always) power within the Islamic world, and with their new manifesto they accept defeat from the west and have decided to turn inward.
The new manifesto, written by Al Qaeda’s chief theoretician, Sheik Abu-Bakar Naji, details this scheme in a more realistic view of their sinking fortunes. You can see that they’ve clearly failed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and because of that they’ve shifted focus south to Pakistan, as I told you they would in early 2007:
As noted in previous Pakistan updates, I think AQ has changed tactics. They now realize the cause is lost in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and they are now focused on taking down the government of Pakistan. This is evidenced by the large influx of foreign fighters these past few weeks — numerous extremists have been picked up at the Taftan border crossing, but how many of the veterans from Iraq are getting through, and planning on taking over in the NWFP?.
Their guise will be extending Islamism, but they are the really the new Islamic Mafia, and Muslims will be their major prey (remember that AQ always has the published goal, but also always has the hidden goal known by leadership.) This model allows them to extend by incorporating criminal gangs, non-islamist allies, and the lower rungs of Islamic society. They will take occasional forays at attacks on the US and Israel when recruiting falls off, but they will not be directly confronting our troops where they can avoid it.
The three key regions AQ has succeeded in creating their ungoverned wilderness’ are : Sudan, Somalia, and the tribal regions of Pakistan. The other middle Eastern states seem pretty stable with the exception of Iran and Syria, so you might see moves there, both on the political and terror fronts. Expect much more political unrest in Egypt as well, but I do not expect them to escalate to terror along the Nile as it would put too much of the braintrust at risk.
They are a raiding force in Afghanistan, but not a permanent army there anymore. I expect that to continue as long as they are able operate freely in Pakistan. They are at work trying to destabilize in Algeria, Yemen, Kashmir, Thailand, and other places. They are obviously trying to implement this strategy elsewhere, but failing. Look for them to work through political groups to destabilize, they will use race, sectarianism, class, and any popular cause they can co-opt wherever they can now, so expect to see some new bedfellows who might seem strange, groups that they have previously shunned. Look for them to also extend the alliance more closely to fringe left terror groups , as they will look for help anywhere they can get it. Expect them to adapt socialist and communist terminology in place of Sharia in places as well.
Amer Taheri has a good review of this new manifesto here.
That persuaded some al Qaeda leaders that a new strategy of smaller, slower but steadier attacks was needed. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s No. 2, has advocated such a strategy since 2003, arguing that the jihad should first target Muslim countries where it has a chance of toppling the incumbent regimes.
Essentially this is acknowledgement that they can’t defeat the West in any war, and a lowering of goals and standards. Muslims everywhere will need to fear as the Al Qaeda Mafia is now stalking them. Western countries must read this new manifesto and take it to heart especially if they have large Muslim populations — moderates will be the first victims of the takfirist crime-lords. The new low-burn intifada against moderate muslims will only make the news on occasion, but the Muslims will all know and fear it.
The best way to combat Sharia and Al Qaeda in the west is to firmly enforce existing western law, and to exterminate the warlords and crimelords in the ungoverned zones that exist now. Of course we must still take active anti-terror measures, and we must finish the job of destroying them in Afghanistan and Iraq. We must now however extinguish the slightest bits of Sharia in all secular, western states whenever attempts are made to supercede western laws. Allowing them to undermine the leadership in existing western Muslim communities would be the biggest mistake we could make, and where we find hate priests and murder mullahs they must be expelled.
My coumsel to leaders in the Islamic world would be to watch your back since cornered beasts are always most dangerous, and also that you better get them before they get you.