April 16, 2008


Penalty for crossing an Al Qaeda boss? A nasty memo: Recently declassified documents reveal a little-known side of the network: an internal culture that has been surprisingly bureaucratic and persistently fractious. (Sebastian Rotella, 4/16/08, Los Angeles Times)

The memo by Atef, who later died in the U.S.-led assault on Osama bin Laden's Afghan refuge in 2001, is among recently declassified documents that reveal a little-known side of the network. Although Al Qaeda has endured thanks to a loose and flexible structure, its internal culture has nonetheless been surprisingly bureaucratic and persistently fractious, investigators and experts say.

The documents were captured in Afghanistan and Iraq and date from the early 1990s to the present. They depict an organization obsessed with paperwork and penny-pinching and afflicted with a damaging propensity for feuds.

"The picture of internal strife that emerges from the documents highlights not only Al Qaeda's past failures but also -- and more importantly -- it offers insight into its present weaknesses," concludes a study of the documents issued in September by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. "Al Qaeda today is beset by challenges that surfaced in leadership disputes at the beginning of the organization's history."

In the years after 2001, anti-terrorism officials worked to understand a foe that defied a Western mind-set. In contrast to state-sponsored extremist groups, Al Qaeda was a decentralized alliance of networks. Recruits in Afghanistan had access to Bin Laden and other bosses. Operatives were often given great autonomy.

But the egalitarian veneer coexisted with the bureaucratic mentality of the chiefs, mostly Egyptians with experience in the military and highly structured extremist groups.

"They may have imposed the blindingly obdurate nature of Egyptian bureaucracy," said a senior British anti-terrorism official who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons. "You see that in the retirement packages they offered, the lists of members in Iraq, the insecure attitude about their membership, the rifts among leaders and factions."

One of the ways God's special Providence is demonstrated is in the ineptitude of our enemies, from Hitler to the Bolsheviks to the Islamicists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2008 6:45 AM

"Retirement Packages?"

Retirement - the idea that we have a God-given right to live unproductively off of our progeny for an extended period of time - will be the death of Western Civ. (See Europe, the Northeast, and Illinois)

Sadly, AFSCME and Teacher's Unions, are less inept than "our enemies."

Not enough of us notice that AFSCME and Teacher's Unions ARE our enemies, and that we are willingly paying them our taxes to destroy us. (financially through taxes and culturally through stupefying our kids)

Al qaida could learn from the masters.

Posted by: Bruno at April 16, 2008 8:53 AM

"You see that in the retirement packages they offered, ... the insecure attitude about their membership,..."

Retirement package: 72 virgins

You would be insecure too if you are not ready for retirement.

Posted by: ic at April 16, 2008 1:34 PM