King’s College London’s terribly smart and not at all sinister Insurgency Research Group have some relevant facts about a controversy between Daniel Davies and I. Recap: Dan apparently believes that it’s better to let jihadis advertise on the Internet, on the principle that they will attract lots of idiots, self-dramatising teens, and committee fetishists, who will destroy their effectiveness as a revolutionary movement.
I disagree; this form of terrorism has a special feature, in that it not only has the ability to make use of these people, but in fact it actually wants them. All they need is one self-defeating burst of dramatic childish rage. Stupidity and ego histrionics are actually qualifications, if the job you’re recruiting for is “meat guidance package for our expensive explosives”. Given that the person concerned doesn’t need to live independently or make any decisions – in fact, you want to prevent them doing either, as this has a negative impact on mission success – the people you need are precisely the ones who wouldn’t make acceptable infantrymen in an army of any kind. (Middle-class wankers tend to believe this includes them; history suggests they can hack it.)
No, what you want are the ones the sergeant would break his heart over. From the point of view of a harassed, super-minority movement with a small supply of capable people and resources of every kind – this is actually how Osama sees the world jihad, according to his statement With a Band of Knights – what would you do? You need to preserve bombmakers, recruiters, and competent conspirators; the answer is a cadre system, where they recruit, supply, fit out, and target a steady flow of rubes. In Iraq, recruiting angry young Saudis through this system has the further benefit that, like third-rate Formula One racers, they pay the team for the drive.
The IRG post is about one of India’s many longrunning small-scale insurgencies; they reacted to a government strategy of targeting their leaders by recruiting the poor, or rather the marginal half-bright younger sons of the poor, to do the dirty work. The lads who got the shit job tended to be young, illiterate, and involved at the fringes of criminal gangs. Poverty of every kind is still the motivator. The answer is clear – tack to the left. Counterinsurgency is just the respectable form of Marx.