Friday, July 9, 2010

Good Quality Terrorists

Bored and aimless as I often am, I spend an inordinate amount of time browsing the interweb, often ending up on a site called, which specialises in what an American "friend" of mine would term "leprechauny politics" (thankfully, he has received his just punishment, and is now languishing in a position in SE Asia which he does not enjoy, and which does not test his immense skills and intelligence. Ha ha, leprechaun that, Hantmonius!).

Anyway, bitterness aside, yesterday I was flicking through said website and I came across the following thread:

"The quality of young people joining the IRA was very impressive.." MI6 agent.

This got me a-thinking: what of the modern threats faced by the US and UK forces in Afghanistan and Iraq; do the coalition allies view the Taleban or Al-Qaeda in Iraq with the same grudging respect shown by some of the British military and intelligence figures noted in the above thread. I seem to remember the brilliant Wings Over Iraq blog had a video of a Taleban ambush in Afghanistan that didn't exactly go to plan, and showed up the boys of the old martyr's brigade to be less than professional. But at the same time, stories such as Taliban sniper hunted over seven UK deaths would seem to suggest that at least some of the Taleban are clearly capable.

And what of the character of the young men flocking to join the enemies of America and the UK - what sort of social profiles do they fill? It is well-known that many of the 9/11 hijackers were highly educated, and represented the "elite" of the societies from which they are drawn. What of the Taleban and its allies in Afghanistan: are their recruits the elite of their societies? Could they be passing up better opportunities in life in order to fight in a holy war? Or are they simply thugs (as some people in both Ireland and Britain would both view the IRA) who lust for violence, and if there were no war handy, would still be harming their fellow man, albeit without the cover of a political or religious goal?

1 comment:

  1. I remembered this post when I read this article in the New York Times. There is, in American military culture, an "insurgent mystique", in which we portray the insurgent as an all-powerful, hidden force against which there is no defense. This is especially true in Afghanistan, where the same insurgents NATO is battling now have been fighting (with firearms) against invaders for years.

    The reality is, however, that they're not all-powerful. They suffer from poor marksmanship. (The US Marines claim they "shoot like the Army")