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terrorism

By George Friedman

The Obama administration published a series of memoranda on torture issued under the Bush administration. The memoranda, most of which dated from the period after 9/11, authorized measures including depriving prisoners of solid food, having them stand shackled and in uncomfortable positions, leaving them in cold cells with inadequate clothing, slapping their heads and/or abdomens, and telling them that their families might be harmed if they didn't cooperate with their interrogators.

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By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

On March 31, Baitullah Mehsud, commander of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), called The Associated Press and Reuters to claim responsibility for the March 29 attack against a Pakistani police academy in Manawan, which is near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore and the Indian border. The attack had been previously claimed by a little-known group, Fedayeen al-Islam (FI), which also took responsibility for the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September 2008.

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OLD FEARS AND CYCLICAL LULLS

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Two years ago, Stratfor wrote an article discussing the historical pattern of the boom and bust in counterterrorism spending. In that article we discussed the phenomenon whereby a successful terrorist attack creates a profound shock that is quite often followed by an extended lull. We noted how this dynamic tends to create a pendulum effect in public perception and how public opinion is ultimately translated into public policy that produces security and counterterrorism funding.

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PAKISTAN: A BOGUS THREAT AND THE BIGGER PICTURE

By Scott Stewart and Kamran Bokhari

On March 5, the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad reportedly received threatening e-mails warning of attacks on Saudi interests in Pakistan. According to English-language Pakistani newspaper The Nation, the e-mails purportedly were sent by al Qaeda and threatened attacks on targets such as the Saudi Embassy and Saudi airline facilities in Pakistan.

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By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Mexico has pretty much always been a rough-and-tumble place. In recent years, however, the security environment has deteriorated rapidly, and parts of the country have become incredibly violent. It is now common to see military weaponry such as fragmentation grenades and assault rifles used almost daily in attacks. In fact, just recently we noted two separate strings of grenade attacks directed against police in Durango and Michoacan states.

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By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

February 12 marked the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyah, one of Hezbollah's top military commanders. The anniversary was certainly met with rejoicing in Tel Aviv and Washington - in addition to all the Israelis he killed, Mughniyah also had a significant amount of American blood on his hands. But the date will have been met with anger and renewed cries for revenge from Hezbollah's militants, many of whom were recruited, trained or inspired by Mughniyah.

Because of Hezbollah's history of conducting retaliatory attacks after the assassination of its leaders, and the frequent and very vocal calls for retribution for the Mughniyah assassination, many observers (including Stratfor) have been waiting for

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By Fred Burton and Ben West

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order Feb. 1 approving the continued use of renditions by the CIA. The order seems to go against Obama's campaign promises to improve the image of the United States abroad, as renditions under the Bush administration had drawn criticism worldwide, especially from members of the European Union. The executive order does not necessarily mean that renditions and other tactics for dealing with terrorist suspects will proceed unchanged, however.

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By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

The media wing of one of al Qaeda's Yemeni franchises, al Qaeda in Yemen, released a statement on online jihadist forums Jan. 20 from the group's leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, announcing the formation of a single al Qaeda group for the Arabian Peninsula under his command. According to al-Wuhayshi, the new group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, would consist of his former group (al Qaeda in Yemen) as well as members of the now-defunct Saudi al Qaeda franchise.

The press release noted that the Saudi militants have pledged allegiance to al-Wuhayshi, an indication that the reorganization was not a merger of equals. This is understandable, given that the jihadists in Yemen have been active recently while their

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By George Friedman

Washington's attention is now zeroing in on Afghanistan. There is talk of doubling U.S. forces there, and preparations are being made for another supply line into Afghanistan - this one running through the former Soviet Union - as an alternative or a supplement to the current Pakistani route. To free up more resources for Afghanistan, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq probably will be accelerated. And there is discussion about whether the Karzai government serves the purposes of the war in Afghanistan. In short, U.S. President Barack Obama's campaign promise to focus on Afghanistan seems to be taking shape.

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Since 2001, Congress has provided the Department of Defense (DOD) with about $808 billion in supplemental and annual appropriations, as of September 2008, primarily for military operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). DOD's reported annual obligations for GWOT have shown a steady increase from about $0.2 billion in fiscal year 2001 to about $162.4 billion in fiscal year 2008. The United States' commitments to GWOT will likely involve the continued investment of significant resources, requiring decision makers to consider difficult trade-offs as the nation faces an increasing fiscal challenge. The magnitude of future costs will depend on several direct and indirect cost variables and, in some cases, decisions that have not yet been made. DOD's future costs will likely be affected by the pace and duration of operations, the types of facilities needed to support troops overseas, redeployment plans, and the amount of equipment to be repaired or replaced

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By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

For the past several years, Stratfor has published an annual forecast for al Qaeda and the jihadist movement. Since the January 2006 forecast, it has focused heavily on the devolution of jihadism from a phenomenon focused primarily on al Qaeda the group to one based primarily on al Qaeda the movement. Last year, Stratfor argued that al Qaeda was struggling to remain relevant and that al Qaeda prime had been marginalized in the physical battlefield. This marginalization of al Qaeda prime had caused that group to forfeit its position at the vanguard of the physical jihad, though it remained deeply involved in the leadership of the ideological battle.

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Dr Robert Crowcroft

The last week has offered a stark reminder of the persistent threats to peace and stability in Northern Ireland. While Afghanistan rightly garners the headlines, Britain's oldest conflict may not be over just yet. The province is certainly no beacon of harmony. Recent days alone have witnessed three car-bomb incidents linked to dissident Republican terrorists. All received significant national news coverage. On 3 August, a taxi was hijacked, loaded with 200lb of explosives, and parked outside a Londonderry police station. In the early hours of the morning, the bomb went off. No-one was injured, but several nearby businesses were badly damaged. Oglaigh na hEireann, an offshoot of the Continuity IRA itself a splinter group claimed responsibility. Whether this was a gesture of the 'We are still here' variety, or an attempt at launching something more serious, remains unknown. On 4 August, a car bomb attack on a soldier in Bangor failed. And on 7 August, a bomb was found attached to the car of a Catholic police officer. As of

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By Imogen Baxter and Dr Robert Crowcroft

Recent events have brought a stark warning that, when it comes to peacemaking and the resolution of conflicts, pinning hopes on goodwill, or asking people to be 'reasonable', is just not enough. The morass between Israel and the Palestinian territories, in Afghanistan, or in Iraq, illustrate that every week. Now we have had another reminder, much closer to home, from an old foe.

There have been multiple incidents related to dissident Republican terrorist groups. Indeed, there has been a significant surge in dissident activity throughout this year, including widespread rioting in Catholic areas of Belfast in July. On 14 August, a bomb detonated in a wheelie bin in Lurgan, injuring three children. Beforehand warnings were given of a bomb being placed near a school; the suspicion is that the device exploded prematurely, it being intended to kill the police officers searching in response to the school threat. That night, police officers investigating warnings of other devices were attacked by petrol bombs and missiles. On 16 August, Patrick Mercer MP expressed the view that Oglaigh nah Eireann, a splinter group from the Continuity IRA, aim to renew attacks on British targets. When faced with this kind of situation, it is all too easy to simply cross our fingers and hope for the best. It is similarly tempting to shout 'Oh, come on!' at the television screen. But hoping for 'reasonableness' as a means of resolving conflict is inadequate, and Northern Ireland illustrates this point well; perhaps too well.

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By Lee Bruce

In the past year the rising tide of violence in Northern Ireland has lead commentators to suggest that the peace process is in terminal danger. Defence analysts question how an entrenched and complicated political puzzle like Northern Ireland can be 'solved' as if to assume that all conflicts can be ended provided that sage politicians are prepared to engage in rational and constructive debate. Both of these interpretations should be questioned. Firstly, an increase in sporadic acts of sabotage and assassination from dissidents who are marginalised from power (political conflict bloodless or otherwise is all about getting your hands on the levers of power) does not mean that there will be a return to the ferocious insurgency of the 1970s and 1980s. And secondly, there needs to be a clear definition of how victory is to be understood. Resolution in Northern Ireland (or any other counter-insurgency for that matter) is not an end to all violence of any kind as this is impossible in the Hobbesian world sink estates in England, Wales and Scotland attest to the type of racketeering, drug running and gangsterism that afflicts Belfast, South Armagh and Londonderry. Success should instead be defined as finding 'an acceptable level of violence'. And this has been achieved by British intervention in Ulster.

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By Noor R Ampssler

Winning the "hearts and minds" of the people has become enshrined as a pivotal component of counter-insurgency warfare ever since 1952 when General Sir Gerald Templer declared it would be the key to success in fighting the communists. The Malayan Emergency is still regarded as the shining paradigm of how to properly wage a counter-insurgency campaign and Templer's emphasis on hearts and minds established in military circles a fixation with these operations. However, what if during the Emergency the hearts and minds campaign was not the crux upon which victory turned and if the evidence for the effectiveness in this area is ambivalent at best. What if other factors during the Malayan Emergency, especially the unique context in which the counter-insurgency campaign was fought, more plausibly explain the victory of the government security forces? Does one then question the established wisdom and think the unthinkable: that an overriding emphasis on hearts and minds is simply overrated and even misplaced?

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By Ben West and Lauren Goodrich

On Aug. 12, four members of the militant group the Caucasus Emirate (CE) appeared in a video posted on a Russian militant website withdrawing their support from CE founder and leader Doku Umarov. The reason for the mutiny was Umarov's Aug. 4 retraction of his Aug. 1 announcement that he was stepping down from the top leadership position. STRATFOR and many others noted at the time that the Aug. 1 resignation was unexpected and suggested that Umarov may have been killed. However, the Aug. 4 retraction revealed that Umarov was still alive and that there was considerable confusion over who was in control of the militant group.

The mutineers were all high-level members of the militant group: Hussein Gakayev, commander of the CE's Chechen forces; Aslambek Vadalov, commander of Dagestani forces and to whom Umarov had briefly turned over control in his Aug. 1 resignation; an Arab commander named Muhannad; and a veteran field commander known as Tarkhan. The four CE commanders said Umarov's renunciation showed disrespect for his subordinates and that, while the four leaders continued to pledge support to the CE, they no longer supported Umarov. Gakayev, Tarkhan and Muhannad had all appeared in a video that aired Aug. 1 in which they supported Umarov's decision to appoint Vadalov CE emir.

To further confuse the issue, a video released Aug. 11 by Emir Adam, the CE leader in Ingushetia, pledged his and his followers' loyalty to Umarov. The next day, another video appeared featuring the group's new leader in Dagestan, Emir Seyfullakh Gubdensky (who succeeded Vadalov after he became deputy leader of the CE), similarly endorsing Umarov's reclamation of the top CE post.

These disparate messages from top leaders paint a picture of confusion and dissension in the CE that appears to mark a serious crisis for a group, which, until recently, had been consolidating militant groups across the Caucasus under a single, more strategic leadership structure. STRATFOR has collected insight from sources familiar with the group and its leadership turmoil that explains what happened and the nature of the threat that the CE poses to Russian security in the Caucasus.

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By George Friedman

It is August 2010, which is the month when the last U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave Iraq. It is therefore time to take stock of the situation in Iraq, which has changed places with Afghanistan as the forgotten war. This is all the more important since 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq, and while they may not be considered combat troops, a great deal of combat power remains embedded with them. So we are far from the end of the war in Iraq. The question is whether the departure of the last combat units is a significant milestone and, if it is, what it signifies.

The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 with three goals: The first was the destruction of the Iraqi army, the second was the destruction of the Baathist regime and the third was the replacement of that regime with a stable, pro-American government in Baghdad. The first two goals were achieved within weeks. Seven years later, however, Iraq still does not yet have a stable government, let alone a pro-American government. The lack of that government is what puts the current strategy in jeopardy.

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By Cindy May

Following the September 11th attacks, the United States and the coalition forces have fostered an alliance with Pakistan that has included over 11 billion dollars (USD) in defence aid. Given that may Al Qaeda and Taliban members have relocated to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the North Western Frontier Province, Pakistan's cooperation is critical to coalition efforts in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan has a long history of connections with the Taliban and other extremist groups in the region. Pakistan, along with the United States, provided logistical, training, and financial support to the mujahedeen in its fight against the Soviet Union. Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops, many of these mujahedeen fighters merged into what became the Taliban, and Pakistan continued its close relationship with the group.

Pakistan has pledged its support for the War on Terrorism and publicly denounced terrorism. Nevertheless numerous reports from Western intelligence agencies and from Taliban leaders indicate that Pakistan, especially its Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), has not given up its ties to these groups and is in fact still closely working with the Afghani Taliban and other insurgents in the region. This poses many problems and security risks for coalition countries and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Consequently, Pakistan and its surreptitious activities have become a security threat that coalition countries can no longer afford to ignore.

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By Scott Stewart

The drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq has served to shift attention toward Afghanistan, where the United States has been increasing its troop strength in hopes of forming conditions conducive to a political settlement. This is similar to the way it used the 2007 surge in Iraq to help reach a negotiated settlement with the Sunni insurgents that eventually set the stage for withdrawal there. As we've discussed elsewhere, the Taliban at this point do not feel the pressure required for them to capitulate or negotiate and therefore continue to follow their strategy of surviving and waiting for the coalition forces to depart so that they can again make a move to assume control over Afghanistan.

Indeed, with the United States having set a deadline of July 2011 to begin the drawdown of combat forces in Afghanistan and with many of its NATO allies withdrawing sooner the Taliban can sense that the end is near. As they wait expectantly for the departure of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan, a look at the history of militancy in Afghanistan provides a bit of a preview of what could follow the U.S. withdrawal.

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By George Friedman

It has now been nine years since al Qaeda attacked the United States. It has been nine years in which the primary focus of the United States has been on the Islamic world. In addition to a massive investment in homeland security, the United States has engaged in two multi-year, multi-divisional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, inserted forces in other countries in smaller operations and conducted a global covert campaign against al Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups.

In order to understand the last nine years you must understand the first 24 hours of the war and recall your own feelings in those 24 hours. First, the attack was a shock, its audaciousness frightening. Second, we did not know what was coming next. The attack had destroyed the right to complacent assumptions. Were there other cells standing by in the United States? Did they have capabilities even more substantial than what they showed on Sept. 11? Could they be detected and stopped? Any American not frightened on Sept. 12 was not in touch with reality. Many who are now claiming that the United States overreacted are forgetting their own sense of panic. We are all calm and collected nine years after.

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