Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ideology is Al Qaeda’s Achilles’ heel

Daily Times reported The United States could discredit Al Qaeda in the Muslim world by challenging its violent Islamist ideology and muzzling its leading proponents, an independent report released on Thursday said.

The 364-page study, published by the RAND Corp think tank, described Al Qaeda’s Islamist ideology of violent resistance as a “global revolutionary creed” akin to the Marxism-Leninism philosophy that the West defeated with “a robust political warfare” campaign during the Cold War. “If the ideology is countered and discredited, Al Qaeda and its universe will wither and die,” concluded the two-part study, entitled “Beyond Al Qaeda” and funded by the Air Force. “It follows that a comprehensive US strategy needs to move beyond the boundaries of conventional counterterrorism theory and practice, and address these ideological and political factors,” it said.

The study’s authors recommended the Bush administration expand “decapitation strategies” to include ideologues, holding up as examples decisions by British and Indonesian authorities to either jail or deport hard-line Muslim clerics. “Preventing Al Qaeda’s ideological mentors from continuing to provide theological justification for terrorism could expedite the movement’s ideological deterioration,” they concluded.

I agree we should do whatever we can.
Much of the research in the RAND study was completed in 2004 but has never been released. The authors updated the data to reflect developments in Iraq, the Middle East, Chechnya, Southeast Asia and Somalia. “The importance of ideology has become even more evident. The passage of time has only reaffirmed and reinforced it,” said lead author Angel Rabasa, RAND senior policy analyst.

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