Maybe you would prefer us to
take a piece of Central Africa or Uruguay?
Not Egypt, thank you,
we tried that once and it was not a success
--Little Drummer Girl (1984)
And when the planes and tanks and guns
have done all that they can do
And the mighty bombs have rained and failed
Still the helpful hand above,
on the weapon made of love
And against him none on earth prevail
--Weapon of Prayer, Notting Hillbillies
The war advocates will hail the conviction of Haq as yet another glorious blow against Terror, but Ranger doesn't see it that way, according to U.S. Army terrorism doctrine:
"A Pakistani man convicted on terrorism charges has been sentenced to more than four years in jail in the United States over a plot to smuggle a member of the Pakistani Taliban into the country.
"'Haq conspired with others to smuggle into the United States an individual who was believed to be a member of a foreign terrorist organisation,' Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement:
"Such conduct presents a serious threat to our national security."
"The US Justice Department said undercover law enforcement agents had directed 'confidential sources' to contact the three men —then residing in Ecuador —to request help in smuggling a fictitious individual, said to be a member of the Pakistani Taliban, into the United States" (US Sentences Pakistani over Taliban Smuggling Plot).
Haq was small potatoes, and when a U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor believes that a crazy wannabe or petty profiteer is a threat to our internal security, we have lost our way. Were these three men convicted as "material supporters" simply dupes, fools, wannabes, opportunists our for a quick buck, or were they operational assets? We will look at terrorist doctrine to make the determination.
While a Subject Matter Expert in Terrorism Counteraction (TC/A), Ranger was privileged to be mentored by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Funkhouser, and he co-wrote with Major Jim Holden-Rhodes a U.S. Army training circular entitled, "Intelligence Analysis in Terrorism Counteraction". He knows a thing or two about terrorism.
Let us begin with an entry class, "Terrorist Organization and Tactics". Ranger's version differs from what you will see from Jack Baeur's "24", The Unit or NCIS.
A triangle represents the gross strata of a terrorist organization; within that hierarchy there are sub-units and inter-connected cells, aimed at minimizing their exposure to government counter-policies. At the apex, the smallest number are "active operational assets"; the middle is composed of the "active support", while the base represents the "passive support".
Think Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan or any other harbor for terrorists: Can the U.S. jail every active and passive supporter of terrorism, especially that of the Islamic extremist stripe? When 50% of Egypt's new Parliament is 50% Islamic Brotherhood and 25% radical Islamist, quashing that impulse is not a likely prospect.
These three men were not members of the tip of the pyramid; the cellular organization of terror groups would not countenance such bumbling activity. The Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and Homeland Security may recruit idiots off the street, but a serious terror unit will NEVER associate on any level with a person that has not risen through the pyramid, thereby proving their longitudinal loyalty.
The only exception is when a patsy is needed to take the fall.
Since retiring, Ranger has modified a small portion of his thinking regarding the tip of the pyramid -- the operational elements of the current threat, which we will call "al Qaeda", though he uneasily hangs that tag. It seems that U.S. laws attacking the material support for terrorism are useless to breaking up the operational capabilities of any organization. It is analogous to killing a cook in a U.S. mess hall and expecting that action to obstruct a combat Brigade from being operational.
The tip will include a political arm which blends into the active portion of the unit. There will be a bleed-over effect, and these people are often legitimate or semi-legitimate outlets for the group, as Sinn Fein was for the Irish Republican Army, for example.
In addition, there is a military wing along with the Holy Grail -- the key personnel forming the backbone and operational assets of the group. (Operational leaders need not be shooters, and therefore are not subject to battlefield loss.) The brains may reside in the active support; the political and military wings may coordinate to conduct operations beyond the scope and abilities of the military wing operating alone.
That is when you see operations like those of 9-11-01.
NEXT: More on operational assets and organization configuration.