We live in a world profoundly confused about how, when and whether to assign blame when terrorists hurt innocent people.
Did the Tsarnaev brothers maim and murder innocent Americans because Islam instructs them to do so? That goes further than almost anyone is willing to go.
Did the Tsarnaev brothers detonate bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15th because they were indirectly but clearly instructed to do that by a powerful jihadi strategist, and did that man issue those instructions because he, and many others, believe they were told to do it because Islam insists on it? That may be the case, whether or not U.S. officials want the connection known.
A man who was involved at the very start of the global jihad movement, who was a colleague as well as strategic rival to Osama bin Laden, whose efforts have been linked to the 7/7 bombings in London, the ’04 train bombings in Madrid, possibly to a Paris metro bombing way back in 1995 and even perhaps to the 09/11 bombings, is certainly someone we all should know about. And while learning about him, it will be useful to consider whether his legacy connects to the Tsarnaev Boston Terror Bombings. Because by all knowledgeable estimates, this is the man who conceived of, trained others for, and wrote the manual on the modern global Islamic jihadi war against the West. And the most recent battlefield in that war was the finish line in Boston.
WHO IS THE GRAND STRATEGIST OF MODERN GLOBAL JIHAD?
His name is Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, although he’s also known as abu Musab al Suri (the Syrian). Perhaps his most significant contributions to the cause of global jihad was his insistence that the old-style al Qaeda, with its rigid hierarchical structure, was a disaster for the movement and had to be jettisoned in favor of a different strategy. In his 1600 page manifesto, al Suri stressed the need for the global jihadi movement to create a new fighting style focused on “individual terrorism.”
This innovation, also known as “leaderless jihad,” is a strategy designed to escape detection. Al Suri advised followers not to have cells or “brigades” larger than ten members, and ideally the cells would be in the single digits. He also advocated that jihadists use the Internet and other methods to gather their information to conduct attacks. Those unwilling to embrace his strategy before and in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, have now largely become believers, whether by necessity or by revelation.
But perhaps al Suri’s greatest significance to those of us still reeling from the horrors of the Boston Marathon bombings, is advice he offered in this magnum opus, written while on the run between 2001 and 2005, “The Call for Global Islamic Resistance.” It is available online.
In CGIR al Suri urged his followers to select places for terrorist attacks which could produce maximum carnage for minimum cost. For example, he wrote, “sports competitions attract thousands of spectators and television cameras.” He also suggested local sleeper cells focus on oil fields and transportation systems – think of recent events in Algeria and Canada. The CGIR is considered “the textbook of home-grown terrorism”; it has also been referred to as the “Jihadi Mein Kampf.”
The section of CGIR which proposes sports events as a logical, simple, efficient way to pursue jihad against the infidels and bring attention to the cause was reprinted in the Winter 2012 edition of Inspire magazine – a major (and now online) jihadi source for staying current and in touch with the global jihad movement.
On this topic, al Suri’s advice is offered as a discrete article in Issue 9 of Inspire, “The Jihadi Experiences: The Most Important Enemy Targets Aimed at by the Individual Jihad.” He advises that the best way to turn a Western population against their own leaders and towards support for the jihadi cause is through hysteria caused by mass slaughter, amplified by television cameras and other media.
The type of attack, which repels states and topples governments, is mass slaughter of the population. This is done by targeting human crowds in order to inflict maximum human losses. This is very easy since there are numerous such targets such as crowded sports arenas, annual social events, large international exhibitions, crowded marketplaces, sky-scrapers, crowded buildings….
Dr. James Lacey, director of the War Policy and Strategy Program and an instructor at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, is a former infantry officer and was an embedded journalist. Lacey’s translation of al Suri’s work, Terrorist’s Call to Global Jihad, was sponsored by the U.S. Joint Forces Command.