November 2008

…by everyday objects like matchbox cars and airplanes? Try adding a rocket –

In some ways, terrorist militias operate like a standard army. The military branch (soldiers and strategists) are supported by a community of bankers, politicians and businessmen. This community is not as well defined as the nations or states that support standard armies, but their deniability is usually implausible. A little bit of research will usually reveal their identity.

The biggest strength of the terrorist army is the fact that their soldiers and their non-violent supporters are hidden within the community. The biggest rule of terrorism’s fight club: there is no fight club. If a terrorist army had open supporters, it wouldn’t be a terrorist army.

Terrorism’s biggest weakness: the terrorist army is well protected and hard to find, but their supporters are not. We know who their supporters are in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, etc., but for a variety of reasons, we’re afraid to acknowledge their involvement or fight back. Therefore, we never strike at terrorism’s weakest point, the non-violent supporters. It’s as if we fought WWII Naziism by waging war against the SS while still treating Germany and Hitler as honored friends.

According to US intelligence and one of the terrorist footsoldiers, the Mumbai attacks were arranged by Lashkar-e-Taiba. This site has some good info about the group:

While the Salafi LeT represents one part of the Pakistani jihadi community, the other major grouping consists of the more numerous Deobandi sect with terrorist groups like the Sipah-i-Sahaba-Pakistan (SSP) Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM.) Unlike the Ahle-Hadith, the Deobandis have built a powerful political movement within Pakistan but their political participation has also resulted in periodic bouts of serious tension with the Pakistani Army, which although highly supportive of jihad in Afghanistan and India, nevertheless brooks no challenge to its vice-like grip on political power within the nation. In contrast, the LeT led Ahle-Hadith movement has traditionally stayed apolitical and instead focused on its main goal – the dream of establishing an Islamic Caliphate that stretches from Indonesia to Morocco, including Northern Australia by means of a violent jihad.

Due to its eschewing of political confrontation with the Pakistani army and thanks to the strength of its ties to Saudi Arabia the LeT steadily grew in to one of the largest and most capable jihadist groups in Pakistan, despite the relatively small size of the Ahle Hadith followers in that nation. Even though the LeT elects not to take part in politics, it does have an unarmed wing, the Markaz Da’wa wal-Irshad (MDI) or “Centre for Religious Learning and Social Welfare”. At the inspiration and by some accounts seed money from Osama bin Laden, Pakistani Salafists Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed of the University of Engineering and Technology of Lahore, founded the MDI in 1987….

..To finance its day-to-day activities, the LeT leverages its contacts in Saudi Arabia as well as launches donation campaigns with overseas Pakistanis, especially middle class and wealthy Punjabis in Britain, Australia and the Middle East. According to Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Centre, Osama bin Laden has also financed LeT activities until recently. The LeT, under its new name JuD, uses its outreach networks including schools, social service groups and religious publications to attract and brainwash recruits for jihad in Kashmir and other places

If we or the Indian army had plans to fight terrorism, the Markaz Da’wa wal-Irshad and all leaders of the ‘unarmed’ wing would be attackable or arrest-able assets. Since the LeT is also trained by and closely linked to the Pakistani Intelligence agency (ISI), it would be a good idea to use whatever information we have about the ISA to weaken or dismantle it.

However, if there is no interest in responding to the Mumbai attacks, some could use the attacks as a hook to gain support for unrelated political or special interest campaigns. Governments could set up a few bureaucratic “anti-terror” groups, slap a few wrists, prosecute the footsoldiers and not the leaders. We could all accept subsequent attacks as part of the cost of doing business with terror sponsors.

Let’s see what happens

“Obama – Building a Religion”, one of the most effective campaign messages of the recent election season, created by cakesecret with Windows Movie Maker

The NY Times reports on how we’re evolving from book-literacy to screen literacy

The fluid and fleeting symbols on a screen pull us away from the classical notions of monumental authors and authority. On the screen, the subjective again trumps the objective. The past is a rush of data streams cut and rearranged into a new mashup, while truth is something you assemble yourself on your own screen as you jump from link to link. We are now in the middle of a second Gutenberg shift — from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.

The overthrow of the book would have happened long ago but for the great user asymmetry inherent in all media. It is easier to read a book than to write one; easier to listen to a song than to compose one; easier to attend a play than to produce one. But movies in particular suffer from this user asymmetry. The intensely collaborative work needed to coddle chemically treated film and paste together its strips into movies meant that it was vastly easier to watch a movie than to make one. A Hollywood blockbuster can take a million person-hours to produce and only two hours to consume. But now, cheap and universal tools of creation (megapixel phone cameras, Photoshop, iMovie) are quickly reducing the effort needed to create moving images. To the utter bafflement of the experts who confidently claimed that viewers would never rise from their reclining passivity, tens of millions of people have in recent years spent uncountable hours making movies of their own design. Having a ready and reachable audience of potential millions helps, as does the choice of multiple modes in which to create. Because of new consumer gadgets, community training, peer encouragement and fiendishly clever software, the ease of making video now approaches the ease of writing.

Related links:

Google SketchUp 7, a 3D Modeling Tool

Alibre Blog

Video editing software

Photojojo: How to do stop motion photography


Portuguese Turkey, corn bread jalepeno stuffing and minimalist recipes at the NY Times

I guess he’s used to it after living for years in the intellectual impoverishment of “anarchism”..

bowery chomsky

This holiday season, don’t forget the needy…Donate today

Palin haters whine about preparations for Turkey day

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