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>Jihadists Are Murderers, Looters, Die Hard Villains Of The World – Much Like Moammar Gadhafi

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By Scott Stewart
As George Friedman noted in his geopolitical weekly “Revolution and the Muslim World,” one aspect of the recent wave of revolutions we have been carefully monitoring is the involvement of militant Islamists, and their reaction to these events.
Militant Islamists, and specifically the subset of militant Islamists we refer to as jihadists, have long sought to overthrow regimes in the Muslim world. With the sole exception of Afghanistan, they have failed, and even the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan was really more a matter of establishing a polity amid a power vacuum than the true overthrow of a coherent regime. The brief rule of the Supreme Islamic Courts Council in Somalia also occurred amid a similarly chaotic environment and a vacuum of authority.
However, even though jihadists have not been successful in overthrowing governments, they are still viewed as a threat by regimes in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In response to this threat, these regimes have dealt quite harshly with the jihadists, and strong crackdowns combined with other programs have served to keep the jihadists largely in check.
As we watch the situation unfold in Libya, there are concerns that unlike Tunisia and Egypt, the uprising in Libya might result not only in a change of ruler but also in a change of regime and perhaps even a collapse of the state. In Egypt and Tunisia, strong military regimes were able to ensure stability after the departure of a long-reigning president. By contrast, in Libya, longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi has deliberately kept his military and security forces fractured and weak and thereby dependent on him. Consequently, there may not be an institution to step in and replace Gadhafi should he fall. This means energy-rich Libya could spiral into chaos, the ideal environment for jihadists to flourish, as demonstrated by Somalia and Afghanistan.
Because of this, it seems an appropriate time to once again examine the dynamic of jihadism in Libya.

A Long History

Libyans have long participated in militant operations in places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq. After leaving Afghanistan in the early 1990s, a sizable group of Libyan jihadists returned home and launched a militant campaign aimed at toppling Gadhafi, whom they considered an infidel. The group began calling itself the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in 1995, and carried out a low-level insurgency that included assassination attempts against Gadhafi and attacks against military and police patrols.
Gadhafi responded with an iron fist, essentially imposing martial law in the Islamist militant strongholds of Darnah and Benghazi and the towns of Ras al-Helal and al-Qubbah in the Jabal al-Akhdar region. After a series of military crackdowns, Gadhafi gained the upper hand in dealing with his Islamist militant opponents, and the insurgency tapered off by the end of the 1990s. Many LIFG members fled the country in the face of the government crackdown and a number of them ended up finding refuge with groups like al Qaeda in places such as Afghanistan.
While the continued participation of Libyan men in fighting on far-flung battlefields was not expressly encouraged by the Libyan government, it was tacitly permitted. The Gadhafi regime, like other countries in the region, saw exporting jihadists as a way to rid itself of potential problems. Every jihadist who died overseas was one less the government had to worry about. This policy did not take into account the concept of “tactical Darwinism,” which means that while the United States and its coalition partners will kill many fighters, those who survive are apt to be strong and cunning. The weak and incompetent have been weeded out, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have learned tactics for survival in the face of superior firepower and have learned to manufacture and effectively employ new types of highly effective improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
In a Nov. 3, 2007, audio message, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri reported that the LIFG had formally joined the al Qaeda network. This statement came as no real surprise, given that members of the group have long been close to al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. Moreover, the core al Qaeda group has long had a large number of Libyan cadre in its senior ranks, including men such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, Anas al-Libi, Abu Faraj al-Libi (who reportedly is being held by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay) and Abu Laith al-Libi, who was killed in a January 2008 unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Pakistan.
The scope of Libyan participation in jihadist efforts in Iraq became readily apparent with the September 2007 seizure of a large batch of personnel files from an al Qaeda safe house in the Iraqi city of Sinjar. The Sinjar files were only a small cross-section of all the fighters traveling to Iraq to fight with the jihadists, but they did provide a very interesting snapshot. Of the 595 personnel files recovered, 112 of them were of Libyans. This number is smaller than the 244 Saudi citizens represented in the cache, but when one considers the overall size of the population of the two countries, the Libyan contingent represented a far larger percentage on a per capita basis. The Sinjar files suggested that a proportionally higher percentage of Libyans was engaged in the fighting in Iraq than their brethren from other countries in the region.
Another interesting difference was noted in the job-description section of the Sinjar files. Of those Libyan men who listed their intended occupation in Iraq, 85 percent of them listed it as suicide bomber and only 13 percent listed fighter. By way of comparison, only 50 percent of the Saudis listed their occupation as suicide bomber. This indicates that the Libyans tended to be more radical than their Saudi counterparts. Moroccans appeared to be the most radical, with more than 91 percent of them apparently desiring to become suicide bombers.
The Libyan government’s security apparatus carefully monitored those Libyans who passed through the crucible of fighting on the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and then returned to Libya. Tripoli took a carrot-and-stick approach to the group similar to that implemented by the Saudi regime. As a result, the LIFG and other jihadists were unable to pose a serious threat to the Gadhafi regime, and have remained very quiet in recent years. In fact, they were for the most part demobilized and rehabilitated.
Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, oversaw the program to rehabilitate LIFG militants, which his personal charity managed. The regime’s continued concern over the LIFG was clearly demonstrated early on in the unrest when it announced that it would continue the scheduled release from custody of LIFG fighters.
The Sinjar reports also reflected that more than 60 percent of the Libyan fighters had listed their home city as Darnah and almost 24 percent had come from Benghazi. These two cities are in Libya’s east and happen to be places where some of the most intense anti-Gadhafi protests have occurred in recent days. Arms depots have been looted in both cities, and we have seen reports that at least some of those doing the looting appeared to have been organized Islamists.
A U.S. State Department cable drafted in Tripoli in June 2008 made available by WikiLeaks talked about this strain of radicalism in Libya’s east. The cable, titled “Die Hard in Derna,” was written several months after the release of the report on the Sinjar files. Derna is an alternative transliteration of Darnah, and “Die Hard” was a reference to the Bruce Willis character in the Die Hard movie series, who always proved hard for the villains to kill. The author of the cable, the U.S. Embassy’s political and economic officer, noted that many of the Libyan fighters who returned from fighting in transnational jihad battlefields liked to settle in places like Darnah due to the relative weakness of the security apparatus there. The author of the cable also noted his belief that the presence of these older fighters was having an influence on the younger men of the region who were becoming radicalized, and the result was that Darnah had become “a wellspring of foreign fighters in Iraq.” He also noted that some 60-70 percent of the young men in the region were unemployed or underemployed.
Finally, the author opined that many of these men were viewing the fight in Iraq as a way to attack the United States, which they saw as supporting the Libyan regime in recent years. This is a concept jihadists refer to as attacking the far enemy and seems to indicate an acceptance of the transnational version of jihadist ideology — as does the travel of men to Iraq to fight and the apparent willingness of Libyans to serve as suicide bombers.

Trouble on the Horizon?

This deep streak of radicalism in eastern Libya brings us back to the beginning. While it seems unlikely at this point that the jihadists could somehow gain control of Libya, if Gadhafi falls and there is a period of chaos in Libya, these militants may find themselves with far more operating space inside the country than they have experienced in decades. If the regime does not fall and there is civil war between the eastern and western parts of the country, they could likewise find a great deal of operational space amid the chaos. Even if Gadhafi, or an entity that replaces him, is able to restore order, due to the opportunity the jihadists have had to loot military arms depots, they have suddenly found themselves more heavily armed than they have ever been inside their home country. And these heavily armed jihadists could pose a substantial threat of the kind that Libya has avoided in recent years.
Given this window of opportunity, the LIFG could decide to become operational again, especially if the regime they have made their deal with unexpectedly disappears. However, even should the LIFG decide to remain out of the jihad business as an organization, there is a distinct possibility that it could splinter and that the more radical individuals could cluster together to create a new group or groups that would seek to take advantage of this suddenly more permissive operational environment. Of course, there are also jihadists in Libya unaffiliated with LIFG and not bound by the organization’s agreements with the regime.
The looting of the arms depots in Libya is also reminiscent of the looting witnessed in Iraq following the dissolution of the Iraqi army in the face of the U.S. invasion in 2003. That ordnance not only was used in thousands of armed assaults and indirect fire attacks with rockets and mortars, but many of the mortar and artillery rounds were used to fashion powerful IEDs. This concept of making and employing IEDs from military ordnance will not be foreign to the Libyans who have returned from Iraq (or Afghanistan, for that matter).
This bodes ill for foreign interests in Libya, where they have not had the same security concerns in recent years that they have had in Algeria or Yemen. If the Libyans truly buy into the concept of targeting the far enemy that supports the state, it would not be out of the realm of possibility for them to begin to attack multinational oil companies, foreign diplomatic facilities and even foreign companies and hotels.
While Seif al-Islam, who certainly has political motives to hype such a threat, has mentioned this possibility, so have the governments of Egypt and Italy. Should Libya become chaotic and the jihadists become able to establish an operational base amid the chaos, Egypt and Italy will have to be concerned about not only refugee problems but also the potential spillover of jihadists. Certainly, at the very least the weapons looted in Libya could easily be sold or given to jihadists in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, turning militancy in Libya into a larger regional problem. In a worst-case scenario, if Libya experiences a vacuum of power, it could become the next Iraq or Pakistan, a gathering place for jihadists from around the region and the world. The country did serve as such a base for a wide array of Marxist and rejectionist terrorists and militants in the 1970s and 1980s.
It will be very important to keep a focus on Libya in the coming days and weeks — not just to see what happens to the regime but also to look for indicators of the jihadists testing their wings.
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Confidential Informants: A Double-Edged Sword

Police in El Paso, Texas, announced Aug. 11 that they had arrested three suspects in the May 15 shooting death of Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana, a Juarez cartel lieutenant who had been acting as a confidential informant (CI) for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. It was an activity that prompted the Juarez cartel to put out a hit on him, and Gonzalez was shot multiple times outside his home in an upscale El Paso neighborhood. A fourth suspect was arrested shortly after the Aug. 11 announcement. Among the suspects is an 18-year-old U.S. Army soldier stationed at nearby Fort Bliss who the other suspects said had been hired by one of the leaders of the Juarez cartel to pull the trigger on Gonzalez. The suspects also include two other teenagers, a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old.
The man who recruited the teenagers, Ruben Rodriguez Dorado — also a lieutenant in the Juarez cartel — has also been arrested, and the emerging details of the case paint him as a most interesting figure. After receiving orders from his superiors in the Juarez cartel to kill Gonzalez, Rodriguez was able to freely enter the United States and conduct an extensive effort to locate Gonzalez — he reportedly even paid Gonzalez’s cell phone bill in an effort to obtain his address. Armed with the address, he then conducted extensive surveillance of Gonzalez and carefully planned the assassination, which was then carried out by the young gunman he had recruited.
The sophistication of Rodriguez’s investigative and surveillance efforts is impressive, and the Gonzalez hit was not the first time he undertook such tasks. According to an affidavit filed in state court, Rodriguez told investigators that he also located and surveilled targets for assassination in Mexico. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this case is that the entire time Rodriguez was plotting the Gonzalez assassination he, too, was working as a CI for ICE.
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While it is unclear at this point if ICE agents played any part in helping Rodriguez find Gonzalez, at the very least, Rodriguez’s status as an ICE informant would certainly have been useful in camouflaging his nefarious activities and could have given him some level of official cover. Although Rodriguez was a legal permanent resident of the United States, having friends in ICE would allow him to cross the border repeatedly without much scrutiny and help deflect suspicion if he were caught while conducting surveillance.

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Without having access to the information Rodriguez was providing to ICE, it is very difficult for us to assess if Rodriguez’s work with ICE was sanctioned by the Juarez cartel, or if he was merely playing both ends against the middle. However, when one examines the reach, scope and sophistication of the Mexican cartels’ intelligence efforts, it is clear that several of the cartels have demonstrated the ability to operate more like a foreign intelligence service than a traditional criminal organization. This means that it is highly possible that Rodriguez was what we refer to in intelligence parlance as a double agent — someone who pretends to spy on an organization but is, in fact, loyal to that organization.
Whether Rodriguez was a double agent or just an out-of-control CI, this case provides a clear example of the problems encountered when law enforcement agencies handle CIs — problems that become even more pronounced when the informant is associated with a sophisticated and well-financed organization.

Choir Boys Need Not Apply

While CIs can be incredibly valuable sources of information, running a CI is a delicate operation even under the best of circumstances, and poses a wide array of problems and pitfalls. The first and most obvious issue is that most people who have access to the inner workings of a criminal organization, and therefore the most valuable intelligence, are themselves criminals. Upstanding, honest citizens simply do not normally have access to the plans of criminal gangs or understand their organizational hierarchy. This means that authorities need to recruit or flip lower-level criminals in order to work their way up the food chain and go after bigger targets. In the violent world of the Mexican drug cartels, sending an undercover agent to infiltrate a cartel is extremely dangerous. Therefore, using CIs is even more important in such investigations than it is while working against other types of criminals.
The fact that many CIs are criminals means that not only do they frequently come with a heavy load of psychopathic and sociopathic baggage, but in order to stay in good standing within their organization, they often need to continue to commit illegal acts while working for the government, though the type of criminal activity permitted is often carefully delineated by the government. Not infrequently, these illegal acts can come back to haunt the agency operating the CI, so maintaining control of the CI is very important.
CIs can also come with a host of motivations. While some informants are motivated by money, or promises to have charges dropped or reduced, other informants will provide information to the authorities out of revenge or in order to further their own criminal schemes either by using law enforcement as a way to take out rival gangs or even a rival within their own organization. Because of these varying motivations, it can be very difficult to tell when CIs are fabricating information or when they are trying to manipulate the authorities. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for inexperienced or vulnerable handlers to lose control of a CI. In extreme cases, it is even possible for a smooth and sophisticated CI to end up controlling their handler. And this is not just confined to ICE or small-town police departments; there have been instances of FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents being manipulated and controlled by their CIs.
Out-of-control CIs can do things like refuse to follow orders, shut off recorders or edit recordings, tape meetings and calls with handlers, or even commit murders and other serious crimes while working with authorities. There have also been cases of handlers getting involved in sexual relationships with CIs, providing drugs to CIs, and even committing crimes with CIs who were manipulating them.
At the high end of the threat scale, there is also the possibility that informants will be consciously sent to the authorities in order to serve as double agents, or that the criminal organization they work for will double them back once it is learned that they have decided to begin cooperating with the authorities. Many federal agencies polygraph sources, but polygraph operators can be fooled and polygraphs are of limited utility on people who have no moral compunction about lying. Therefore, while agencies take efforts to vet their CIs, such efforts are often ineffective.
Double agents are particularly useful for the criminal organization because they can intentionally feed very specific information to the authorities in order to manipulate enforcement activities. For example, in the case of the Juarez cartel, they could tip off authorities to a small shipment of narcotics in one part of the sector in order to draw attention away from a larger shipment moving through another part of the sector. Of course, the fact that the CI provided accurate information pertaining to the smaller shipment also serves to increase his value to the authorities. In the case of a double agent, almost everything he provides will usually be accurate — although this accurate information is pretty much calculated to be harmless to the criminal organization (though organizations have used double agents to pass on information to the authorities that will allow them to take action against rival criminal gangs). The outstanding accuracy of the intelligence reported will cause the double agent to be trusted more than most regular CIs, and this makes double agents particularly difficult to uncover.

Not Typical Criminals

When considering the Mexican drug cartels, it is very important to remember that they are not typical criminal gangs. The cartels are billion-dollar organizations that employ large groups of heavily armed enforcers, and many of the cartels have invested the time and resources necessary to develop highly sophisticated intelligence apparatuses.
Such intelligence apparatuses are perhaps best seen in the realm of public corruption. Some of the Mexican cartels have a long history of successfully corrupting public officials on both sides of the border. Groups like the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) have recruited scores of intelligence assets and agents of influence at the local, state and even federal levels of the Mexican government. They even have enjoyed significant success in recruiting agents in elite units such as the anti-organized crime unit of the Mexican attorney general’s office. The BLO even allegedly recruited Mexico’s former drug czar, Noe Ramirez Mandujano, who reportedly was receiving $450,000 per month from the organization. This recruitment also extends to all levels of government in the United States, where Cartels have recruited local, state and federal officials. Many of the assassination operations the cartels have launched against one another and against senior Mexican officials have also demonstrated the advanced intelligence capabilities of the Mexican cartels.
With the money to buy foreign expertise and equipment, the Mexican cartels have been able to set up counterintelligence branches that can administer polygraph examinations, signals intelligence branches that can intercept the authorities’ communications and even elaborate (and well-funded) units designed to identify and bribe vulnerable public officials. The Mexican cartels also assign people to infiltrate law-enforcement agencies by applying for jobs. According to a report released last week, in a 10-month period, four applicants for U.S. border law enforcement positions were found through background checks and polygraph examinations to be infiltrators from drug-trafficking organizations. It is important to remember that these four were only those who were caught, and not all agencies submit applicants to the same scrutiny, so the scope of the problem is likely much larger. In light of this history of cartel intelligence activity, it is not unreasonable to assume that the cartels possess the sophistication and skills to employ double agents.

Alphabet Soup

Running a CI against a Mexican cartel is also greatly complicated by the number of agencies involved in the struggle against them. Among local, state and federal entities there are scores of agencies in El Paso alone with some sort of jurisdiction working against the cartels. The agencies range from obvious ones such as the DEA, FBI, Texas Rangers, El Paso Police and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the less obvious such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Union Pacific Railroad Police and the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command at Fort Bliss.
This jumble of jurisdictions creates a very difficult environment for working with CIs. Not only are agencies legitimately concerned about protecting the identities of their CIs due to the possibility of corruption in other agencies, but there is also the issue of competition. Agencies are afraid of other, better-funded agencies stealing their informants. If a local police detective has developed a very good dope source, the last thing in the world he wants is for ICE or the DEA to take control of his source, which would in all likelihood mean that he will lose all the information the CI was providing. Likewise, if an ICE agent has developed a good Mexican cartel source, the last thing he wants is for the DEA or FBI to take control of the source.
In the human intelligence world, there is a lot of jealousy and suspicion. This not only means that information is not fully shared across agencies but also that agencies are very reluctant to run checks on their CIs through other agencies for fear of divulging their identities. This insulation results in some CIs double- or even triple-dipping, that is, working with other agencies and providing the same information in exchange for additional payments. This fragmentation also results in the agency running the CI not being able to learn of critical information pertaining to the past (or even current) activities of their CI. It means, too, that the agency that recruits the CI in some cases is simply not in the best position to take full advantage of the information provided by the CI, or that agency competition and institutional rivalries prevent the CI from being turned over to a more capable agency. Certainly, on its face, ICE would not be the best, most logical agency to handle a source like Rodriguez, who was a lieutenant in the Juarez cartel tasked with conducting assassination operations.
The fear associated with the potential compromise of CI identities inside an agency or task force due to corruption can also affect the operational effectiveness of law enforcement operations. It is hard to get much of anything done when people are worried about who may be a mole on the cartel payroll.

Nowhere to Hide

One last thing to consider in the Gonzalez assassination is that it highlights the fact that even though targets will seek shelter inside the United States, Mexican drug cartels will follow them across the border in order to kill them, something we have discussed for several years now. Moreover, incidents like the Gonzalez hit will likely cause high-value cartel targets to move even deeper into the United States to avoid attack — and their enemies’ brazen and sophisticated assassins will likely follow.
Rodriguez’s use of teenage assassins to kill Gonzalez is also in keeping with a trend we have seen in Laredo and elsewhere, that of the cartels recruiting young street-gang members and training them to be assassins. Young gunmen working for Los Zetas in Laredo, Houston, San Antonio and elsewhere have been given the nickname “Zetitas,” or little Zetas. In is not surprising to see the Juarez cartel also employing young gunmen. Not only are the young gunmen easily influenced, fearless and hungry for money and respect, but the cartels believe that the younger offenders are expendable if caught or killed, and will also do less time than an adult if they are arrested and convicted. These young killers are also not given much information about their employers in the event they are captured and interrogated by police.
In the final analysis, CIs are a necessary evil and can be a very effective weapon in the law enforcement arsenal. Like any weapon, however, CIs must be carefully managed, maintained and employed to make sure they are not used against the law enforcement agencies themselves.
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Aaric Eisenstein
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>Unity Doesn’t Mean Uniformity

>There is little progress when we abandon creativity and unique thought.

In their book, Getting America Right, Doug Wilson of Townhall and Edwin Fuelner of the American Heritage Foundation http://www.heritage.org/ said:
“The continuing strength and vitality of our country comes in large part from our differences and disagreements, from the unimpeded flow of ideas and experiences, from the incredibly varied mixture of cultures and traditions which we cherish — all of which works to broaden our collective intellect. Like an alloy, we are harder and tougher because our base metals are mixed.”

But our freedom springs from our basic national identity and values. We are a land of laws — but also freedom, opportunity, independence, opportunity and decency.

But today you don’t even need to learn to read, speak, and write English to pass the citizenship test. Our liberal judges have leaned over backwards to make immigrants a special interest group.

In 1989 an American man murdered his wife with a hammer and got off with only five months probation. That’s outrageous! But this man was a Chinese immigrant to New York, Dong Lu Chen. He murdered his wife because he suspected her of infidelity. In China, female infidelity receives captial punishment. So that Chinaman just took matters into his own hands, forgetting he now lives in America where we respect the lives of men, women, and children. Life is sacred.

Lest anyone forget, in America woman have the same rights as men.

The liberal judge also forgot his duty — to mete out a punishment according to American law, not Chinese law. Have we as Americans lost confidence in our values?
I’ll write more on this later. DWhite