Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Al Qaeda's ghosts

The good people at Stratfor defines the role of the middle-level of Al Qaeda in a recent report:

'From these examples and others, it appears that al Qaeda has suffered a rather serious decline in the quality -- though not necessarily the quantity -- of its operational assets, which in turn points toward a decline in its effectiveness as a strategic force wielding influence over world events (though not, on the whole, as an organization capable of violence). On a related note, it also appears that national intelligence and security agencies, in the United States and elsewhere, who have taken "preventing the next 9/11" as their primary mission have been successful, at least so far.

But herein lies the problem. The middle layer of the pyramid -- that consisting of highly skilled operatives -- might be seriously damaged, but it has not yet been eliminated. We strongly suspect the existence of an al Qaeda "ghost" -- a high-value operative, likely someone with dual nationality or multiple passports -- who is still able to move from cell to cell or at least transmit signals to local groups awaiting a "go" order to carry out a strike. Government-run intelligence agencies have suspected the same, and MI5 actually identified a possible ghost, named on a terrorism watch list, who entered and left Britain shortly before the July 7 attacks. Yet the agency also signaled, three weeks prior to the event, that there were "no known threats" to world leaders who would be attending the G-8 summit in Scotland at that time. Clearly, the intelligence puzzle is not yet complete.'


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