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In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on May 20, 2013 at 12:00 am

Within investigative agencies such as the FBI and CIA, there are divisions specializing in two types of Intelligence:

Tactical Intelligence: This concerns matters that are of immediate importance. Examples: Al Qaeda is planning to set off a bomb at a particular place, or a top Islamic terrorist is due to arrive at a particular plce on such-and-such date.

Strategic Intelligence: This concerns matters that are of long-term importance. Examples: How does Al Qaeda recruit new members?  How does it launder its money?

For too long, Intelligence agencies have followed the “buy and bust” example of local and Federal narcotics enforcement agencies. That is: They have gone for the quick arrest of smalltime criminals while ignoring the operating processes of criminal organizations.

To actively combat Islamic terrorism, the American Intelligence community must thoroughly understand the enemy it is facing. Thus, that community should create a corps of experts specializing in:

(1) Islamic religion (2) Islamic history (3) Islamic culture.

Granted, only timely tactical intelligence will reveal Al Qaeda’s latest plans for destruction.

But no matter how adept Islamic terrorists prove at concealing their momentary aims, they cannot conceal the insights and long-term objectives of the religion, history and culture which have scarred and molded them.

While accumulating such intelligence, one question above all others should be kept constantly in mind: “How can we turn this religion / history / culture into a weapon against the terrorists we face?”

To demonstrate how the American Intelligence community could effectively apply such intelligence:

Cultural Intelligence: A U.S. News & World Report story has noted that Palestinian suicide-bombers have been deterred by the Israelis’ use of police dogs.

For religious and cultural reasons, Muslims consider dogs defiled—and defiling—creatures. Islamic terrorists fear that blowing up themselves near a dog risks mingling their blood with that of the dead or wounded animal—thus forfeiting their opportunity to enter Paradise and claim those 72 willing virgins.

Historical Intelligence: The age-old ethnic conflicts between majority Sunni and minority Shiite Muslims are now on lethal display in Iraq. The FBI and CIA can successfully exploit these when recruiting informants or fomenting rivalries among terrorist groups.

These are similar to the animosities once existing between American Indian tribes, such as the Pawnee and Cheyenne. Veteran Army officers used these hatreds to recruit warriors of opposing Indian tribes to scout against warriors of their longtime enemies.

Religious Intelligence: Contrary to politically-correct pundits, it is not only social or economic inequalities which inspire Islamic terrorists, but the Koran itself. Within its pages are numerous exhortations to wage war on “kaffirs” or “unbelievers.”

Dying for Allah is not seen as a waste of life. In fact, the Koran encourages it. Muhammad commands in Surah [chapter] 4:74: “To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah—whether he is slain or gets victory—soon shall we give him a reward of great (value).”

The American Intelligence community must become as intimately familiar with the mindset of its Islamic enemies as the best frontier Army officers became with the mindset of the Indians they fought.

General George A. Custer once freed several white female captives by threatening to hang the chiefs of the tribes responsible. The Indians scorned death by knife or gunshot.

But they feared that the spirit of a hanged man remained forever trapped within his body, thus preventing him from reaching the Happy Hunting Ground. And Custer, knowing this, put this intelligence to effective, life-saving use.

American Intelligence agencies must learn what our Islamic enemies most seek, most prize, and—above all—most hate and fear. Then these agencies must ruthlessly apply that knowledge in defense of America’s survival.

Ali Soufan was one of the few FBI agents intimately familiar with Arabic culture and language at the time of 9/11.  In his 2011 book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, he sums up the importance of “knowing your enemy.”

People ask what is the most important weapon we have against al-Qaeda, and I reply, “Knowledge.”

….As Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, when we know our enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, and at the same time we know our capabilities–that’s when we are best-placed to achieve victory.

…Our greatest successes against al-Qaeda have come when we understood how they recruited, brainwashed and operated, and used our knowledge to outwit and defeat them. 

Our failures have come when we instead let ourselves be guided by ignorance, fear and brutality.

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