This is a guest “note” by Chas Freeman, President of the Middle East Policy Council and former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as well as former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. This clip appeared as part of a private email exchange, and The Washington Note secured permission from Freeman to run this segment that offers interesting insights into America’s current challenges with terrorists in Afghanistan and on a Northwest Airlines flight.
Non-State Actors Now Competing Competently with States
. . .That would certainly appear to be the case with the al-Qa`ida operation that Humam Al-Balawi just spearheaded to revenge the assassination of the Taliban’s Baitullah Mehsud.
Quite aside from the mythic status he has now achieved and the recruitment value this has to al-Qa`ida, this operation involved the carefully planned deployment of a triple agent over an extended period to entrap the key CIA personnel engaged in planning the assassination of al-Qa`ida’s leadership cadre. It came off like clockwork, demonstrating a level of tradecraft, professional skill, and capability comparable to that of the superlatively competent Staatssicherheit [Stasi] establishment in the late, unlamented DDR.
One must laugh at the attention being lavished on the pathetically unsuccessful “underpants bomber” (successful as he was in sowing panic, which is after all the objective of terrorists) when the death of seven CIA operatives and associated security staff so convincingly demonstrates how our enemies are evolving to match us.
Those involved in the struggle to “defend their faith and its homelands” against “the Crusaders and Jews” are getting much cleverer, more competent, more sophisticated, more united, more diverse, and able to operate more effectively on a global scale and over longer time frames.
Whether we and the Israelis wish to take credit for this evolution (as is our due) or not, we should be very concerned at the phenomena that our callously ignorant policies in the Dar al-Islam are birthing.
Non-state actors are now, for the first time, beginning to compete in competence with states.
— Chas Freeman