Blogs of War

Hizballah Cavalcade

Internet Haganah



Kremlin Trolls

Making Sense of Jihad

Selected Wisdom

Views from the Occident


American Terrorists

Anwar Awlaki

Al Qaeda


American Al Qaeda Members

Inspire Magazine

Revolution Muslim


News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Zazi Pleads Guilty

The plea is sealed but here's the DOJ press release:

Najibullah Zazi guilty plea

It's clear from the information revealed in this release that Al Qaeda Core is now focusing on smaller scale attacks.

The conventional wisdom for years has been that AQ wanted to stage an attack even more spectacular than 9/11 and was not interested in smaller operations. I personally doubt whether this was ever true (there was already strong evidence to the contrary), but at this point no one can credibly mount such a claim.

This has to be seen as a negative development, since smaller attacks are easier to accomplish and pressing small attacks does not preclude the simultaneous deployment of a spectacular attack.

In fact, if the operations are properly compartmentalized, smaller attacks could distract focus away from a larger operation. U.S. counterterrorism focus is highly reactive. For instance, we might be preoccupied chasing breast impant bombs with body scanners while someone is stowing a dirty bomb on an LNG tanker from Yemen.

Another interesting point here is that Zazi traveled specifically to fight for the Taliban and only after arriving on the ground was he diverted to Al Qaeda. Since 2003, we’ve seen an increase in cases where potential foreign fighters are diverted to terrorism before they gain any battleground experience.

Prior to 2001, fighters would more often cut their teeth in a more traditional foreign fighter combat or even regular military environment, and after proving themselves under those conditions then be recruited to receive specialized training for terrorism.

For instance, Khalid Shaik Mohammed went to Bosnia in 1992 to play a support role for the mujahideen, but returned in 1995 to recruit terrorist operatives from the pool of experienced fighters.

There is a useful distinction and transition to explore between jihadist (which I am defining as a foreign fighter taking part in a localized armed conflict or insurgency) and what I would call a “networked terrorist” (attacking non-combatant civilian targets outside of a hot conflict zone). I'll get into this more in my forthcoming book.

Labels: ,

Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



Tweets referencing this post:



", granular analysis..."

ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post

More on ISIS: The State of Terror

"...a timely warning..."

Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times

More on Jihad Joe


INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


Newest posts!

More Detail on 'Michael Jackson's Neverland Favori...

Al Qaeda's Breast Implant Bomb Plot

American Arrested in Raid on Bosnian Village

CIA May Set Its Drone Sights on Anwar Awlaki

Fallout in the Military Over Nidal Hasan

American Jihadists Study

Anwar Awlaki Describes Nidal Hasan Contacts

Detroit Bomber Attended AlMaghrib Institute In Hou...

Intel: Awlaki Linked To Christmas Bombing

Investigators Look At Possible Link Between Detroi...


New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim

The Utility of Lone Wolves

Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser

A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds

How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You

PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement

Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips

Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums

U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki

State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh

State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995

FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs

Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War

U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001

Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting