[ by Charles Cameron — in which Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Phillip Smyth get into role ]
The United States Institute of Peace is holding what it terms a PeaceGame today and tomorrow:
The current PeaceGame series is tackling one of the timeliest and most challenging of issues confronted by the U.S. government and stakeholders worldwide: the global rise of radical groups and violent extremism. Building on a successful first session in December exploring the political and economic roots of extremism and violence, our June event will focus on the human element: why do today’s extremist movements attract recruits worldwide, and how can the international community more effectively both counter this appeal and manage the reintegration of radicalized individuals.
That’s an interesting topic all right — but when it comes to role-playing “stakeholders worldwide” there are going to be some interesting participants..
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, for instance, is playing the Islamic State:
Formally naming IS “Daesh” in the game seems to me to be a curious choice, since it’s unlikely to be the term by which IS members self-identify in “real life”. Note that the US isn’t named “Crusaders” although there are some stake-holders who might think of the US that way.
Daveed gets into role as IS, and Pillip Smyth, playing Shia, responds likewise:
[ by Charles Cameron — total clash or bizarre agreement? Sydney hostage-taker Man Haron Monis quoted Christian apologist David Wood video on his Twitter feed ]
I am really not sure quite what to make of this. Sheikh Haron, aka Man Haron Monis, the disturbed ex-Shia convert to “Islam” who was the Sydney “hostage-taker” had a Twitter-feed, still up as I was researching this piece, which included this tweet:
Somewhat to my amazement, Haron is posting a video by the Christian apologist David Wood of Acts 17 Apologetics — a gentleman I’ve run across before, strongly opposed to Islam. Here’s the video in question, as featured on the Acts 17 Apologetics YouTube channel
Is Haron quoting Wood like this because he agrees (??!!) with Wood’s analysis of IS in terms of Quranic injunctions — or to show how disdainfully opposed to Islam, western views or Christian apologetics “really are”? — perhaps even both simultaneously?
No matter how you read Haron’s use of Wood’s video, or the various versions of the two Abrahamic faiths under discussion, the appearance of a Christian apologeticist on Haron’s website should give us pause for thought.
This testimony has outlined two competing views of al-Qaeda, and it’s worth noting that public discussion of the jihadist group is impeded by the fact that open-source analysts lack basic information about the al-Qaeda network that can be found in such primary source documents as those recovered after the raid that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad. The seventeen Abbottabad documents that the U.S. government released in 2012 represent less than 1% of the total cache of information, and they don’t even contain a single complete correspondence. To improve public sphere discussion about al-Qaeda, declassification of those documents should be hastened.
A number of analysts have been saying the same thing for a while in blog posts and tweets, though in the present budget-cutting atmosphere they have been ignored and the program to continue declassification and analysis shelved — but Daveed brought the issue, pointedly and courageously I thought, to the House Committee itself.
If anything can turn things in a positive direction as far as that cache of documents is concerned, Daveed’s direct testimony will. As he put it:
Better harnessing the talents of open-source analysts has the potential to sharpen U.S. counterterrorism policies and alert policymakers to possible pitfalls.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.