Politics & Policy

Al Qaeda Manual: A Bad Economy Helps Terrorists

Tom Rogan has a good piece on the homepage explaining the basis for State Department spokesman Marie Harf’s suggestion that more job opportunities for ISIS fighters would weaken the group’s appeal.

“Recent history proves that countering Salafi-jihadism takes more than military force,” Rogan writes. “After all, just consider how the U.S. defeated ISIS’s progenitor, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). That victory wasn’t achieved by force of arms alone. Instead, it was enabled by a decisive military campaign — against AQI leaders and senior non-commissioned officers — joined with a broader political, economic, and social campaign. By offering low-level AQI fighters (and also some higher-ups) an attractive employment alternative, the U.S. gutted AQI of its managers and much of its personnel.” 

Rogan’s point is made from the opposite direction by a tactical handbook that jihadists use in terrorist training camps. 

“[A]ny budding movement or any group that wants to wage a successful guerrilla war must pay attention to the situation of the ordinary people, and address their rights and needs,” the manual, translated for study by the U.S. military, says. “The mujahidin must be mindful that the majority of people are preoccupied with their day-to-day lives and expend their energies chasing their daily bread.”

Of course, an improved economy won’t eradicate the threat, as Rogan notes. Osama bin Laden was a very wealthy man.

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