Seven habits of highly effective kingpins

Risky BusinessMoney Jihad:

Criminal and terrorist groups are highly interconnected according to new analysis of data by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. The conventional wisdom was that criminals worry that working with terrorists may draw unwanted scrutiny from their governments, and they are only inclined to cooperate only in resource-poor environments where it is necessary to survive. But the CTC finds that transnational traffickers and criminals appear to be more than willing to partner with terrorists, and that they benefit from these relationships in a wide variety of environments.

The full report can be read here. It is very thorough (89 pages) and includes academic language and models. Here are a just a few of the salient points from the study about members of the global underworld that may be of interest to practitioners and analysts outside of academia:

  1. Interconnected: 98 percent of the individuals in the global illicit marketplace are within two degrees of separation of each other.
  2. International: One in three individuals in the network have international relationships.
  3. Distributed power: Unlike typical hub-and-spoke networks where 80 percent of the connections rely on 20 percent of the actors involved, the global illicit network is somewhat less dependent on a small number of powerful actors/kingpins. Twenty percent of participants are responsible for only 65 percent of underworld connections. This diffuse hub-and-spoke model makes the network tougher for law enforcement to disrupt.
  4. Willingness to work with terrorists: “Individuals involved in other illicit activities link to terrorists 35 percent of the time” (p. 43). Terrorists often serve as “boundary spanners,” that link and form introductions between disparate groups such as drug traffickers, arms dealers, and organized crime.
  5. Frequent bilateral links with the United Arab Emirates: The top two bilateral connections in the criminal underworld–the U.S. and Colombia and the U.S. and Mexico–are probably unsurprising to Americans. The third most prevalent bilateral connections are between India and the U.A.E., and the sixth most common are between Pakistan and the U.A.E.
  6. Organized crime, not just terrorism, benefits from state sponsorship. We know that state sponsorship of terrorism exists, but for some reason we erroneously assume that state sponsorship of crime does not. The evidence from North Korea, Russia, the Balkans, and Pakistan indicates that criminals can carry out national interests—a phenomenon deserving further study.
  7. Convergence is not driven by poverty. Terrorists and criminals are drawn together in a variety of environments, not just in countries where there are little money or resources. The evidence indicates that the opposite is often true—that criminal masterminds prefer climates where there is some level of predictability and economic development, such as Monzer al-Kassar operating in Spain and Dawood Ibrahim in Dubai. Focusing only on failed states could be a red herring.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Twitter user @El_Grillo1 for sending in a link to the CTC study.

Tsarnaev, Hasan and Deadly Political Correctness

boston-bombings-congressBy :

On Wednesday Dzhohkar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 counts in the Boston Marathon bombings and jury selection began in the case of U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, accused of murdering 13 at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. The Hasan and Tsarnaev cases emerged the same day in testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee, where the first witness, Rudy Giuliani, said that political correctness hinders efforts to stop terrorists before they strike.

Guiliani, mayor of New York during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, told the committee “You can’t fight an enemy you don’t acknowledge.” To confront the terrorist threat effectively, “we have to purge ourselves of the practice of political correctness when it goes so far that it interferes with our rational and intellectually honest analysis of the identifying characteristics that help a discover these killers in advance.”

Giuliani said that a reluctance to identify violent Islamic extremists could have played a role in the FBI’s failure to track Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhohkar’s older brother, who last year returned to Dagestan for six months. “There would have been a much greater chance of preventing Fort Hood, and possibly — and this I emphasize is possibly — the Boston bombing,” Giuliani said, “if the relevant bureaucracies had been less reluctant to identify the eventual killers as potential Islamic extremist terrorists.”

In the 2009 Ford Hood case, Major Nidal Hasan is charged with killing 13, more deaths than in the first attack on the World Trade center in 1993, a year before Giuliani became major of New York.

“The elevation of political correctness over sound investigative judgment certainly explains the failure to identify Maj. Hasan as a terrorist,” Giuliani told the committee. “That political correctness has been extended so far that the current administration describes his act as ‘workplace violence.’ This isn’t just preposterous. What we fail to realize is, this is dangerous.”

The next witness, Michael Leiter, former head of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, denied that political correctness was hindering U.S. efforts against terrorism. Such a claim, he testified, “is simply beyond me.” No member of the committee asked Leiter to explain what dynamic might lurk behind the “workplace violence” explanation. Committee members did explore cases where government agencies had failed to communicate, particularly with local law enforcement.

The hearing was called to examine intelligence breakdowns in the Boston Marathon bombings, but any threat from Islamic extremism failed to emerge in the statement of ranking member Bennie Thompson. He cited the Southern Poverty Law Center about a growing domestic threat from right-wing groups.

That theme emerged in Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Far-Right, a recent report from the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy. The report links white supremacists, Aryan Nations, skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan and such with those who “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. The groups also support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self-government.” As Mark Tapson noted, “that pretty much describes every conservative I know.”

Read more at Front Page

 

More Libya Madness

Uncle Sam Wants Him: Libya Shield spokesman Hafez al-Aquri and the grand old al
Qaeda flag

By Diana West

From the Washington Post, November 10:

Last week, a U.S. Embassy delegation, led by CIA operatives, traveled to Benghazi to meet and recruit fighters directly from the Libyan Shield, a powerful umbrella organization of militias, according to Fathi al-Obeidi, a commander of the group.

The Libyan Shield provided the rescue force that assisted the U.S mission in Benghazi on the night of the attack, and Obeidi said his fighters represent the most viable local option for a special unit.

Wonder how that Libya Shield “assistance” worked out? All I seem to read about it is that the US rescue force was held up at the airport in Benghazi for hours awaiting permissions or papers or red tape or until everyone was dead or whatever. It seems that after the ragtag US team finally arrived at the CIA annex (relying on GPS coordinates, according to Time magazine) with their Libya Shield escort, the annex came under attack.

The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli could not be reached for comment, and Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, said that U.S. officials were still in the preliminary stages of the program and had not yet determined the size or composition of the force.

It was also unclear whether the visit described by Obeidi was part of the $8 million Defense Department initiative or a separate project.

Uncle Sam has not only joined the jihad, he is now organizing it in support of what is apparently a Muslim Brotherhood coalition government in Tripoli.

Let’s review. These are thugs at best and on a good day. “We want every minister to have a deputy, and this deputy should be a revolutionary,” Obeidi says in the same Post story. The story continues: When Obeidi and other militia commanders demanded a meeting with the government to press this demand, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan initially declined to meet with the group of militias. At that point, “the Libyan Shield threatened to bar him and his newly approved cabinet from entering eastern Libya. Zeidan later agreed to the meeting.” No word on what transpired.

Of course, this is all about more than strong-arm stuff. Libya Shield fought under the black flag of Al Qaeda in the February 17 Revolution (called for February 17 to commemorate a 2006 attack on Italian consulate in Benghazi over free speech in the West). We supported that revolution; are we now going to fight under the black flag of al Qaeda, too? According to an August 2012  report by the research division of the Library of Congress, its commander, a sharia-fighter and jihad veteran named  Wissam bin Hamid, is suspected of being the leader of al Qaeda in Libya. Bin Hamid, further, directly threatened US diplomats in Benghazi on September 9, 2012 that Libya Shield would withdraw security in Benghazi should the candidate he called the US choice for prime minister win. In this same meeting with the US, bin Hamid declared his support for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.

Now we’re recruiting from his ranks.

More details on Uncle Sam’s surrealistically weird and appalling recruitment campaign from Reuters:

A team of about 10 Americans from the embassy in Tripoli visited a paramilitary base in the eastern city of Benghazi 10 days ago to interview and get to know potential recruits, according to militia commander Fathi al-Obeidi.

According to records captured in Iraq in 2007 and analyzed by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, eastern Libya, which includes the cities of Benghazi (“City of Martyrs”) and Derna, sent more fighters per capita to kill and main Americans in Iraq than anywhere else in the world, including Saudi Arabia.

“The American team asked us for a tour of our base and we granted them permission to walk around freely,” he told Reuters.

How kind. (They must think we’re absolutely nuts — which we are.)

“They stood with many of our men taking down information. They asked them about their ages, backgrounds, their tribal loyalties. They wanted to know what kind of training they had received, if any.”

Maybe in Afghanistan?

The Pentagon declined comment on any recent visit by a U.S. delegation to Benghazi, referring queries to the State Department. At the same time, it acknowledged a need to develop Libyan special operations forces.

Of course — we were so successful with those Libyan embassy security forces!

“But a final decision on the program has not been made, and many details, like the ultimate size, composition and mission of the force are still to be determined,” said Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Gregory.

Obeidi is a commander with Libya’s Shield, an umbrella group for various armed militias that refused to join the official army after the war that ousted Gaddafi last year, saying it was still being run by Gaddafi loyalists.

He also helped a team of U.S. marines in September lead a rescue effort that saved a group of Americans hiding in a safe house after an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens died.

Depends what the meaning of “help” is.

Obeidi said the interviewers also took note of the types of uniforms the men were wearing and asked about their opinion on security in Libya.

He said that the team of American officials included the U.S. charge d’affaires Laurence Pope and the future head trainer of the Libyan special forces team.

“I’ve been asked to help pick about 400 of these young men between the ages of 19 and 25 to train for this force,” he said. “They could be trained either in Libya or abroad.”

The force may be required to fight jihadi militants like those accused in the September 11 assault on the consulate.

But they ARE jihadi militants like those accused in the September 11 assault on the consulate.

Gregory said only that U.S. officials in Libya would work with Libyans “to assess their needs and develop options for ways the U.S. can support them through this transitional period.”

“Obviously, this is still a fluid environment and everything can change,” he said.

You can say that again. In fact, the final makeup of this ever-fluid Libyan cabinet remains to be seen, especially now that the “Libyan discipline commission” (!?) yesterday said four of the new cabinet ” do not meet the standards of patriotism and probity that Libya requires of its officials.”

What are we doing here?

 

Related articles