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Major Roy James Blakeley (December 10, 1928 - July 22, 1965) - USAF (KIA)

When I was young my dad would say
Come on son let's go out and play

No matter how hard I try
No matter how many tears I cry
No matter how many years go by
I still can't say goodbye

- "I Still Can't Say Goodbye," Performer: Chet Atkins

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[This is a 2,287 word summary of a 7,660 word summary]

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Government spokespeople and the media often use the phrase "al Qaeda" or "al Qaeda-related" as shorthand for a larger and more complex array of jihadist terrorist groups. In fact, despite the U. S. invasion of Afghanistan and the arrests of jihadist leaders around the world, the jihadist network remains strong, diverse, and may well be growing in complexity. These groups have conducted twice as many attacks since September 11, 2001, as they did in the three years prior to that date. Jihadist leaders who have been captured or killed have been replaced. Although it is difficult to be precise, the strong consensus among experts is that the rank and file of jihadist membership has increased significantly since 9/ 11.

Significantly, in evaluating U. S. progress in neutralizing the jihadist movement, we need to acknowledge that the war in Iraq has been deeply counter-productive to the greater effort. As a sin of commission, the Iraq war alienated crucial allies in the battle against jihadists, made friendly Muslims into skeptics, made skeptics into radicals, and created a sanctuary for itinerant jihadist insurgents. Iraq had no strong connection to the terror threat facing the United States and Saddam's removal has done nothing to lessen the threat we face from al Qaeda and the jihadists. Perhaps the most vivid demonstration of this point is that a year and a half after Saddam's removal, the terror alert level in America remains unchanged and there is anticipation of a major al Qaeda attack within the next few months. The simple fact is that even if Iraq magically turned into a stable, secure democracy today, the United States could suffer another 9/ 11-type attack tomorrow.

As a sin of omission, the Iraq war diverted massive and much-needed resources from the fight against jihadists. The continued unrest in Iraq will further delay any U. S. effort to create a new international coalition to confront Syria's and Iran's support for terrorist activities, a point not lost on Damascus and Tehran. As a result, they may do everything in their power to further bog down U. S. efforts in Iraq. Ironically, the war in Iraq has contributed to creating the breathing room Syria and Iran so desperately needed to avoid a robust international action response to their terrorist activities.

Despite these many challenges, the battle against the jihadists can and must be won.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. Focus on Winning the Struggle of Ideas: The U. S. should work with its allies to erode support for jihadists in the Islamic world by engaging in what the 9/ 11 Commission called the "struggle of ideas."

2. Invest in Education and Development in Islamic Nations: The U. S., the European Union, and the international financial institutions must greatly expand financial and programmatic support for development, including support for human rights, education systems, and economic opportunities, especially for women.

3. Implement Tailored Strategies for Key Countries: Five countriesù Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraqù are particularly critical. They require the tailored, detailed, proactive, and integrated policies outlined in the full report.

4. Defuse Sources of Islamic Hatred for the United States: Many supporters of the jihadists oppose the U. S. because of specific actions and policies, chief among them our support for Israel and the occupation of Iraq. The U. S. can, without compromising its core interests, values, or support for allies take steps that would reduce our exposure.

5. Improve U. S. Intelligence and Law Enforcement Organization: In addition to implementing the 9/ 11 Commission recommendations, the U. S. should facilitate non-career tracks in the FBI and CIA and separate the domestic intelligence activities of the FBI into a distinct organization. The external oversight board should be independent, as recommended by the 9/ 11 Commission, rather than the internal advisory group created by recent Executive Order.

6. Reinvigorate Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing: The president should designate a Special Assistant to the President for Combating Terrorist Financing at the NSC to lead U. S. efforts on fighting terrorist financing. In addition, the U. S. should build a new framework for U. S.-Saudi relations and create a certification regime for terrorist financing.

7. Bolster Special Forces and Improve Their Coordination with Intelligence Community: Special operations forces for counter-terrorism should be greatly expanded and enhanced to facilitate small unit operations. These units should be supported by a military organization with a covert presence. Congress must make clear that it will accept necessary casualties in counterterrorism operations.

8. Accelerate Security Investments for Ports, Trains, and Chemical Plants: Funds should be significantly increased, with priority given to vulnerabilities in our rail systems, chemical plants, and ports. Assistance to states and cities should be based upon a multi-year plan that is driven by risk assessments and provides essential minimum capabilities to each.

9. Strengthen and Improve Oversight of Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Efforts: The president should appoint a senior official to direct all U. S. nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear counterterrorism efforts. A new initiative should provide countries with international guarantees of nuclear energy supplies in return for agreements to terminate enrichment.

10. ImproveImprove U. S. Energy Security by Reducing Reliance on Middle East Oil: The United States should appropriate significant funds to subsidize a rapid shift to energy sources that do not reply upon oil and gas.

I. THE FIRST STEP: BETTER UNDERSTANDING THE JIHADIST THREAT

We argue that the threat is not terrorism, nor even all terrorist organizations, but rather jihadist terrorists, who seek to hijack Islam and use violence to replace existing governments with non-democratic theocracies. In most predominately Muslim nations, these affiliated jihadist groups seek to overthrow the existing government and replace it with a non-democratic regime which enforces a particular strain of fundamentalist Islam.

Targeting the West to Affect the Islamic World

The jihadist movement uses terrorist attacks on the West, particularly the United States, for a variety of purposes:

- to influence American and Western opinion to abandon the U. S. and European presence in Islamic nations and support of existing Islamic governments;
- to demonstrate to fellow Muslims that the United States and its allies are not omnipotent and can be humbled;
- to raise financial donations and new recruits by demonstrating "results";
- to influence potential adherents in Islamic nations to join them in changing governments in those nations by showing, through successful attacks, that history is on their side.

To achieve these purposes, the jihadists conduct spectacular attacks, often involving targets with an iconic value, or those that will affect the target nation's economy.

There is disagreement as to whether jihadists are motivated chiefly by U. S. actions, such as the invasion of Iraq or U. S. support to Israel, or by their desire to create theocratic governments. Jihadists successfully employ criticism of U. S. policies to widen their support. Whether or not the U. S. were in Iraq or Israel in the West Bank, however, the core jihadists would still seek to overthrow existing regimes to create theocracies, and would target the U. S. because American support of existing Islamic governments makes that goal harder to achieve.

Al Qaeda and More ... Much More

Governments and media often use the phrases "al Qaeda" or "al Qaeda-related" as shorthand for the jihadist movement, a practice which blurs the nature of the current threat. Al Qaeda has always been a relatively small terrorist group, with an inner core of several hundred and a cadre in the few thousands. Its strength lay in the relationships it has fostered with other jihadist groups. Whatever the truth about the strength of al Qaeda today, the network is clearly still vibrant and dangerous.

What al Qaeda did uniquely was to assist other jihadist groups with organization, training, and financing. In states where there were no effective jihadist groups, they helped to create them (Philippines); in states with pre-existing jihadist organizations, they provided the missing elements needed to strengthen them (Uzbekistan). They provided logistical and financial support to freelance terrorists, such as Khalid Sheik Muhammad, as well as to the Taliban regime in its struggles against regional militias. In short, Al Qaeda was primus inter pares among the jihadist groups.

With the U. S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, al Qaeda lost its nation-state sanctuary, as it had earlier when ejected from Sudan in 1996. Significant U. S. ground forces were not introduced into the al Qaeda base areas until seven weeks into the invasion, however, and the United States chose to rely on its newly found Afghan allies to pursue the al Qaeda leadership into the Afghan - Pakistan border area. As a result, most al Qaeda leadership and much of its paramilitary were able to escape immediate capture or death.

U. S. officials have repeatedly claimed that "two thirds of the known al Qaeda managers have been captured or killed." These statements refer to the current status of the individuals who were believed to be members of al Qaeda's consultative council, or Shura, in the summer of 2001. The statements omit two important elements: (a) the two top leaders of al Qaeda remain at large for more than three years following the 9/ 11 attacks; (b) al Qaeda replaces "managers" expeditiously after they are killed or incapacitated.

The success in eliminating al Qaeda leadership led many terrorism analysts to believe in 2003 - 2004 that al Qaeda as a terrorist organization was largely out of business. Then several arrests in late summer 2004 in Pakistan and England suggested a different picture: al Qaeda still exists and retains a communications network that links its leaders with cells in Europe and elsewhere. The emerging picture is of an organization with less experienced personnel, but one that retains the capability to plan large scale terrorist attacks, recruit personnel to carry them out, and obtain explosives and other necessary logistics.

Prior to 9/ 11, al Qaeda was one of the few organizations in the jihadist network that conducted large and successful terrorist attacks or campaigns. In the three years following 9/ 11, other jihadist groups successfully carried out twice as many major attacks as they and al Qaeda had in the three years prior to 9/ 11. The connections between various national groups are now strengthening. Were Osama bin Ladin to be captured or killed tomorrow, both al Qaeda and the global jihadist would continue to operate.

The Concentric Circles of Jihadism

When thinking of the growth and evolution of jihadist threat, it may be helpful to think of the relationship among distinct groups as four concentric circles. In the inner circle are the terrorists of the al-Qaeda organization, whose population is probably in the hundreds. The second circle contains active members of other jihadist groups, many of whom are willing to commit terrorist acts personally and die in the process as suicide bombers; it probably contains several tens of thousands of people. The third circle consists of those who identify with the jihadist cause or aspects of its ideology, and who might, if called upon, facilitate logistical or financial activity. This circle, which tends to support more "Islamist" governments, may contain tens of millions or perhaps as many as a few hundred million depending on the criteria. The outer circle is that of the Islamic world, the followers of the Prophet Muhammad both in majority Islamic countries and scattered throughout the world. They number over one billion people, most of them non-Arab.

Key to the overall management of the U. S. response to the jihadist threat is an understanding of how each U. S. action impacts each of the four concentric circles. It may well be, for example, that to defeat a jihadist terrorist group (second circle), the United States might choose to support a government that is widely disliked by its people for its corruption and suppression of civil liberties and democracy (such as Uzbekistan). Doing so, however, may be counter-productive to gaining support in the third and fourth circles within that country and undermine our longer term goals of diminishing the appeal of the jihadist ideology to those societies. Understanding those trade-offs and making them an explicit part of the policymaking process will be key to the overall long-term success in suppressing the jihadists.

For details on the nature of the threat, see the complete report: "Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action."

II. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION (Go to the original article for futher elaboration of these recommendations)

- "Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action," Summary of a Forthcoming Century Foundation Report http://www.tcf.org/Publications/HomelandSecurity/clarke/clarkesummary.pdf, Century Foundation Richard A. Clarke, Chairman of the Task Force, Glenn P. Aga, Roger W. Cressey, Stephen E. Flynn, Eric Rosenbach, Blake W. Mobley, Steven Simon, William F. Wechsler, Lee S. Wolosky

For additional information see http://www.tcf.org/4L/4LMain.asp?SubjectID=1&ArticleID=498

The Century Foundation http://www.tcf.org/INDEX.asp conducts public policy research and analyses of economic, social, and foreign policy issues, including inequality, retirement security, election reform, media studies, homeland security, and international affairs. The foundation produces books, reports, and other publications, convenes task forces, and working groups and operates eight informational Web sites. With offices in New York City and Washington, D. C., The Century Foundation is nonprofit and nonpartisan and was founded in 1919 by Edward A. Filene.

This report was commissioned by The Century Foundation as part of its major Homeland Security Project cochaired by former Governors Thomas Kean and Richard Celeste and supported in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The task force was assembled and chaired by Richard A. Clarke. More information on this project can be found at www.homelandsec.org or the foundation's Web site www.tcf.org.