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The new AQ magazine: Ghazwa e-Hind & more

Monday, October 20th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- while one prong of the AQ jihad marches on Jerusalem, the other has its sights set on India ]
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Resurgence cover and back

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Well, you only need to get as far as page 5 in the new, 117-page magazine Resurgence from As-Sahab Media (Subcontinent) — AQ with an eye on India, in other words — to read this:

The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has saved two groups of my Ummah from the Hellfire: the group that will invade Al Hind (the Subcontinent) and the group that will be with Eesa (A.S), the son of Mariam.” It is also narrated on account of Abu Hurrairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) promised us the conquest of Al Hind (the Indian Subcontinent). If I am able to join it, I will spend on it my wealth and my life. If I am killed, I will be the best of martyrs and if I return, I will be Abu Hurrairah, the freed one (i.e. from Hellfire).”

That’s the Ghazwa, folks – prong #2 of the end times jihad from Khorasan (for these purposes, roughly speaking Af-Pak), in which a second victorious army sweeps down to take the subcontinent and place its banner atop Delhi’s Red Fort, while the first sweeps westward from the same region to take Jerusalem and much else besides.

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  • Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid is not always taken seriously when he talks about it
  • Ambassador Husain Haqqani however takes it seriously
  • as does Ahrar-ul-Hind
  • The Daily Mail says British intel is on it:
    17Fir08-09.qxp

  • and now, as seen in the para at the top of this post, AQIS makes it a focus of the first edition of its very own magazine
  • There’s a section on Khorasan, too, but I’ll deal with it separately. It’s about miracles.

    **

    A few more quick notes.

    It is mid-to-late October — and the magazine was announced as “coming soon” in this video from March:

    Note that the video voice over is that of Malcolm X. A quick word search suggests that Malcolm X is not, however, featured in the magazine itself.

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    The magazine at one point quotes Michael Hayden, ex-chief of both NSA and CIA,

    One of the points I am beginning to think through now is that those lines drawn after World War I by Mr. Sykes and Mr. Picot don’t matter the way they used to. At the end of this, we may see those lines go away.

    I haven’t been able to find a record of that statement in those words, but Hayden talked about Sykes-Picot at the Jamestown Foundation conference in December 2013, suggesting that the “dissolution of Syria” was one possible, unpleasant scenario to consider. He is quoted elsewhere as saying:

    It means the end of the Sykes-Picot (Agreement), it sets in motion the dissolution of all the artificial states created after World War I .. I greatly fear the dissolution of the state. A de facto dissolution of Sykes-Picot.

    The Resurgence quote makes it almost sound as though Gen Hayden liked the idea of the Sykes-Picot lines “dissolving”.

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    There’s a page on which Zawahiri takes on the IS / Daesh “caliphate” — addressing the footsoldiers both affiliated and perhaps considering affiliation:

    O’ My Mujahid Brother!

    The order of your ameer does not absolve you of responsibility. No Zawahiri, Jawlani, Hamawi or Baghdadi will be able to absolve you of your responsibility if you ever aggress upon your Mujahid brothers. On the Day of Judgment, each one of them will be in need of someone to save them from accountability ..

    Know that you will die alone, be buried alone, resurrected alone, stand in front of your Lord alone, and be answerable for your actions alone. Your Ameer will not be with you in any of these instances. So prepare yourself for that critical day.

    Let me tell you this: If I were ever to tell you to aggress upon hyour Mujahid brothers, disobey me; for I will be of no avail to you on the Day of Judgment.

    Zawahiri presumably still believes his supporters — in Jabhat an-Nusra eg — can defend themselves if attacked by IS jihadists, though ..

    **

    There’s probably more to note — as I said, the entire publication runs more than a hundred pages — but those are my first notes.

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    Climate: The national security aspect

    Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- some personal background, a roundtable video,  DOD's 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, and further readings ]
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    Although I’ve been interested in religious responses to ecological issues since the 1980s, when my friend (and Friend) Marshall Massey proposed the creation of a Quaker environmental organization, I suppose I first really picked up on the natsec aspect of global warming after David Stipp posted The Pentagon’s Weather Nightmare in Fortune, January 26, 2004. The subhead for that piece:

    The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues.

    Then there was Philip Jenkins‘ article, Burning at the Stake, published in 2007. Jenkins is a distinguished historian of religions, known to me for such books as The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity, Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way, and particularly, given my own interests, Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. He wrote:

    When John of Patmos listed the four horsemen of the apocalypse, he didn’t have access to climate-modeling software or any of the technology used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If he had, he might have described the end of times in slightly more specific terms. And, to know what those terms would be, you just have to look at the area approximately between the latitudes of 23 degrees north and 23 degrees south over the next 50 or so years.

    Over the next half-century, this equatorial swath will be broiling from global warming. Droughts will kill crops, and warming oceans will cripple the fishing industry (decimating the populations of fishing villages that will be disappearing, anyway, because water from the melting ice caps will drown them). By midcentury, water shortages could force countries already suffering from generations of ethnic and religious conflict to explode. A country like Nigeria, for example, where Christians and Muslims have self-segregated to the Southeast and the North, might erupt in a violent tug-of-war over limited water supplies. The Coptic Christians in Egypt could become a lost people, as ethnic cleansing in the name of resource protection becomes common. By the same token, Muslim minorities in places like Uganda and Kenya might be annihilated or driven out, creating vast waves of refugees that will swarm the more prosperous countries looking for aid (in response to which Western countries could see a new era of harsh border enforcement). Gradually, whole areas would become arid, uninhabitable wastelands.

    One signiicant para:

    In fact, the looming crisis has provoked some surprisingly radical actions by conservative Christians. The most famous of these is probably Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella organization whose affiliate groups claim 30 million members. In the past five years, Cizik has become an outspoken advocate of “creation care,” a doctrine rooted in the Bible that urges environmental protection, with global climate change as the clear and present danger. Cizik has called climate change “a phenomenon of truly Biblical proportions”–and one, therefore, that demands action on a similarly Biblical scale. Recognizing the pivotal importance of Africa in the Christian future, prominent evangelicals such as Rick Warren have become deeply committed to global South issues.

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    Fast forward to the end of last month, when Climate Week NYC was held at the Empire State Building. BG Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret) appeared in the panel, “Climate conversation: National security and climate change” (see video above), and pointed out:

    Climate change is not a problem that the military can solve; only a global commitment to reduce emissions will solve this problem. Until then, military planners will be forced to deal with ever-worsening consequences. Policymakers must rise to the challenge.

    Also on the panel were RAdm Neil Morissetti RN (ret.), former Commander of the United Kingdom Maritime Forces, and MG Muniruzzaman (ret.), now President of the Bangladesh Institute for Peace and Security Studies. SecState John Kerry delivered the keynote.

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    The DOD’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap was released yesterday:

    Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change. Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.

    In our defense strategy, we refer to climate change as a “threat multiplier” because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today – from infectious disease to terrorism. We are already beginning to see some of these impacts.

    A changing climate will have real impacts on our military and the way it executes its missions. The military could be called upon more often to support civil authorities, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the face of more frequent and more intense natural disasters. Our coastal installations are vulnerable to rising sea levels and increased flooding, while droughts, wildfires, and more extreme temperatures could threaten many of our training activities. Our supply chains could be impacted, and we will need to ensure our critical equipment works under more extreme weather conditions. Weather has always affected military operations, and as the climate changes, the way we execute operations may be altered or constrained.

    Of particular note:

    In our defense strategy, we refer to climate change as a “threat multiplier”…

    That’s SecDef Chuck Hagel in his Foreword to the report. He also says:

    Politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning.

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    Misc further readings:

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    Coming up:

    Tomorrow, Wed October 15 2014 at 7-9pm in Room 101, Hartung Hall, Anderson University, 1100 E Fifth St., Anderson, IN 46012: Climate Change: Risks for National Security.

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    From the caliphate to Ferguson and back, it’s a small world

    Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- starting with the news, closing with Jay Forrester & the impact of systems dynamics on our understanding of cause and effect -- a catchup post ]
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    Clearing the decks grom the last few days, I found this DoubleQuote in the Wild from Ferguson staring out at me from my twitter feed — suggesting just how intricately interwoven our world really is:

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    Souad Mekhennet has a piece titled Even the Islamists of ISIS are obsessing over Ferguson in the Washington Post:

    You can understand if President Obama would rather talk about the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq, where he has scored some victories, than talk about the unholy mess in Ferguson, Mo. Surprisingly, though, ISIS militants are following developments in the St. Louis suburb, and some of them would rather focus on that. According to interviews and social media, members of the group and sympathizers with its jihadist ideology are closely tracking the events in the St. Louis suburb, where protesters and police have clashed. In it, they see opportunity.

    Here are a couple of ISIS-fan tweets:

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    Look, the point I’m making isn’t about Ferguson, it isn’t about the Islamic State, it has to do with the way that an event in one place whill have myriad unexpected effects downstream. The classic case which really opened my eyes to this was Aum Shinrikyo — the group that released sarin in the Tokyo subway system — sending a planeload of its members to Zaire in an attempt to collect Ebola samples for their biochem weapons labs.

    Someone in a medium size yoga cult in Japan read the New Yorker and learned that Ebola esisted and was lethal, and the next thing you know there’s a religious terror group, led by a guy who reads Nostradamus, Asimov and Revelation — and has been granted a photo op with the Dalai Lama — working diligently to get that capability.

    That was back in the last century, but Ebola’s in the news again these days, and it turns out that epidemiology needs to take into account pervasive belief in some affected corners of Africa that the whole business is a conspiracy designed to imprison Africans in “clinics” — the result being riots against at least one clinic, and blood-stained bedclothes and live virus carriers being dispersed into a poorly protected slum.

    Epidemiology as theorized and modeled should be cleaner than that. But then there are other factors — in the case of polio, there’s CIA use of a vaccination team as cover for an attempt to obtain bin Laden’s DNA in Abbottabad, resulting in widespread rumors of conspiracy, refusal of vaccinations, and a resurgence of the disease.

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    Big question: how can you figure out the unknown unknowns represented by riots affecting quarantine? words spoken when a mic supposedly off is in fact on? the impact of large scale climate engineering.

    One of the ideas that has most influenced me in my thinking about games, simulations and models over the last dozen or more years comes from Jay Forrester. I’ll quote him from section 4.1, Cause and Effect Not Closely Related in Time or Space, in his 2009 paper, Learning through System Dynamics as Preparation for the 21st Century, though I think I first ran across the idea in one of his books, probably Urban Dynamics (1969) or World Dynamics (1971):

    Most understandable experiences teach us that cause and effect are closely related in time and space. However, the idea that the cause of a symptom must lie nearby and must have occurred shortly before the symptom is true only in simple systems. In the more realistic complex systems, causes may be far removed in both timing and location from their observed effects.

    From earliest childhood we learn that cause and effect are closely associated. If one touches a hot stove, the hand is burned here and now. When one stumbles over a threshold, the cause is immediately seen as not picking the foot high enough, and the resulting fall is immediate. All simple feedback processes that we fully understand reinforce the same lesson of close association of cause and effect. However, those lessons are aggressively misleading in more complex systems.

    In systems composed of many interacting feedback loops and long time delays, causes of an observed symptom may come from an entirely different part of the system and lie far back in time.

    To make matters even more misleading, such systems present the kind of evidence that one has been conditioned by simple systems to expect. There will be apparent causes that meet the test of being closely associated in time and in location. However, those apparent causes are usually coincident symptoms arising from a distant cause. People are thereby drawn to actions that are not relevant to the problem at hand.

    That stunned me. But it gets a little worse:

    Comments such as I have just made about cause and effect carry little conviction from being stated in a text. Only after a student has repeatedly worked with models that demonstrate such behavior, and has had time to observe the same kinds of behavior in real life, will the idea be internalized and become part of normal thinking.

    I don’t think that’s quite right, I think we’re now seeing generations arise for whom system dynamics and networked thinking seem progressively more “intuitive” — more in tune with the zeitgeist.

    But the decision makers? As far as I can see, they are largely impervious to the kinds of thinking necessary to navigate our complexly interwoven envirorment.

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    I have set before you life and death

    Sunday, June 1st, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- tasking Heuer's ACH theory with the old question of revelation vs scientific discovery? ]
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    For a very pithy take on the pivotal question facing those who adhere to the literal interpretation of a given scripture as God’s infallible Word, try these two quotes:

    A very similar question, it seems to me, can be put to those who hold that science, by virtue of its falsifiability, moves in a manner that will be seen to be asymptotic to infallibility.

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    I’m not saying the two options Pastor Hagee Jr offers are the only options, nor that Christianity is the only religion whose scriptures pose this sort of question to its followers.

    However, there are two fairly clear general options laid out here, and they cut across many fields, from “what sort of biological education would you like to see implemented in schools?” via “how should we respond to warnings of the accelerating risks associated with global warming?” to “are the Iranian nuclear negotiators bound by their concepts of Shia theology, and if so, how does that affect our analysis of their strategic thinking?”

    Let’s call the competing hypotheses here “revelation” and “discovery”. One interesting question: does each of them require evidentiary validation, or is one of them “obviously” self-validating, and if so, how?

    I ask this, partly because I just obtained ACH software, where ACH refers to the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses as described by Richards Heuer Jr in his Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, and specifically in chapter 8.

    Pitting an “infinite and revelatory” hypothesis against a “finite and discoverable” one is one way to test the limits of the ACH system — either it’s a totally irrational and foolish use of a rational tool, or a western equivalent of the zen koan system, depending on your — eh? — hypothesis.

    Life or death? Science or revelation? Which is which?

    How do you know? How can you be sure?

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    In the ballpark, btw?

    \

    Steven J. Brams, Biblical Games: Game Theory and the Hebrew Bible

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    Echoes: Boko H and the LRA, Ray Davis & others anon

    Saturday, May 10th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- following up on Boko Haram "makes Kony look like child's play" while continuing my explorations in stereocognition, along with two dazzling quotes about music ]
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    It happened to be the tweet from Elizabeth Pearson in the upper panel above that alerted me to the LRA’s 1996 abduction of schoolgirls in Uganda, which Boko Haram’s 2014 abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria echoes and amplifies — so I have matched it with another of her tweets, lower panel above, offering an equivalent headline for the Nigerian girls.

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    The parallelisms.

    My purpose, explicitly stated, is not to equate but to compare the two incidents, and more specifically to allow the acts of the purportedly Christian extremists in Uganda to be in the back of our minds as a comparative, while we consider the current spate of appalling actions of the supposedly Muslim extremists in Nigeria…

    And the differences.

    I won’t attempt to detail the parallelisms and differences as I see them here, primarily because it’s the habit of analogical thinking I am exploring, not any single (“double”) instance.

    A stereocognitive view will add nuance — an additional depth dimension to our perception of these two instances — without losing the detail of either one, just as stereoscopic vision and stereophonic hearing give additional depth to our visual and sonic views of the world.

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    Here’s another one — this time triggered by an Emptywheel blogpost today. Marcy Wheeler has been following the Ray Davis story for quite a while, so I’ve matched her post noting the echo betwen “JSOC and one CIA official killing attempted abductors in Yemen” and the “Ray Davis episode in Pakistan” with an earlier post on Ray Davis.

    You know, if “news echoes” of the sort both Lizz and Marcy are noting were discussed in musical terms — rather than as history repeating itself, say — we’d call them fugal motifs, or if we’re more into Wagner than Bach, leitmotifs perhaps.

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    As is widely known, Dan Drezner views his interest through the lens of the undead in his book Theories of International Politics and Zombies — I’d like to view mine through the lens of music, as in these two quotes I’m fond of repeating — they’re a bit long to fit readably into DoubleQuotes format, so I’ll just put them in blockquotes:

    From Cornelius Castoriadis, World in Fragments

    Philosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table. What does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night. What does this show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let the Mozart’s Requiem be a paradigm of being, let us start from that.” Why could we not start by positing a dream, a poem, a symphony as paradigmatic of the fullness of being and by seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being, instead of looking at things the other way round, instead of seeing in the imaginary — that is, human — mode of existence, a deficient or secondary mode of being?

    and from Edward Said, Power, Politics, and Culture

    When you think about it, when you think about Jew and Palestinian not separately, but as part of a symphony, there is something magnificently imposing about it. A very rich, also very tragic, also in many ways desperate history of extremes — opposites in the Hegelian sense — that is yet to receive its due. So what you are faced with is a kind of sublime grandeur of a series of tragedies, of losses, of sacrifices, of pain that would take the brain of a Bach to figure out. It would require the imagination of someone like Edmund Burke to fathom.

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