From the archive of Abdelrahim Ali

Paris and the era of terrorism (1)

Abdelrehim Aly

Terror hit Paris hard this week, waging a brutal war for three consecutive days that made France, Europe and the whole world unconscious, the reaction almost equal to what happened in America after the bombings of New York and Washington on the eleventh of September 2001.

That date, which witnessed the beginnings of the largest war the world has seen, between the United States of America and its allies, and a number of terrorist organizations, most notably Al-Qaeda, the organization that the United States considered the primary responsible for those bombings.

Despite the diversity of methods of confronting these organizations, the scope of terrorist operations kept on expanding, day after day, to include new geographical locations. Not a single country in any part of the world was safe from terrorism.

The future foretells more incidents of terrorist violence, which calls for contemplation and careful analysis of the phenomenon, in an attempt to identify the most important reasons that led and are still leading to such a dangerous development of this phenomenon.

The first factor from my point of view is represented in the ability of these organizations to withstand, absorb blows, exploit international, regional and local contradictions, and play on them, through a set of characteristics.

These characteristics include the ease and simplicity of the slogans and declared goals that these organizations adopt, and the ability of these slogans and goals to influence Muslim youth who lack the proper culture and religious awareness.

Moreover, these organizations resort to inventing new and innovative organizational forms, based on the idea of remote recruitment, by making good use of the internet, which leads to feeding the organization with many new supporters almost every day.

This was affirmed by American officials themselves. Michael Scheuer, the former official in charge of the CIA unit that was tasked with tracking Osama bin Laden, believes that the use of the “Al Qaeda” network to operate via the Internet negatively affected the ability of the American security services to strike it.

Internet technologies are being deployed in innovative ways by terrorist groups, from the creation and maintenance of encrypted traffic over rapid and untraceable networks to transmitting alternative news broadcasts, according to a report by USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Experts on jihadists’ use of the Web describe how al Qaeda and allied groups are using the Internet to recruit more fighters, spread their message and train their followers to commit acts of terror.

Al Qaeda has adopted online tactics that mirror its offline techniques for evading discovery: reliance on a constantly shifting collection of Internet sites and hostile takeovers of Web servers where propaganda can be posted.

Also, we must not forget the ability of these organizations to provide a sound and secure financing structure and to facilitate financial support for their cadres everywhere, and it can be said that it is impossible to completely dry up the financial resources of these organizations.

These organizations have a tight internal security system, which prevents them from being easily penetrated, or reaching the identification of their leaders and active cadres.

It is also pertinent to mention the abundance of unknown sleeper cells that are affiliated with these terrorist organizations in many scattered spots around the world.

These cells represent a surprising element for the intelligence and security services in the targeted countries and regions, and which a number of the most important cadres of terrorist organizations have contributed to building.