Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Turning The Corner, part 3

The Washington Post and the LA Times touch on a recent publication (.PDF) of the National Intelligence Council. The report is an overview of global trends that will influence the shape of the world through 2020: globalization, rising powers, and terror. The section of the report concerned with terrorism is here.

Iraq and other possible conflicts in the future could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are “professionalized” and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself.


Blogger Management said...

Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground
War Created Haven, CIA Advisers Report

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 14, 2005; Page A01

Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.

Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills," said David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats. "There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries."

Low's comments came during a rare briefing by the council on its new report on long-term global trends. It took a year to produce and includes the analysis of 1,000 U.S. and foreign experts. Within the 119-page report is an evaluation of Iraq's new role as a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists.

President Bush has frequently described the Iraq war as an integral part of U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. But the council's report suggests the conflict has also helped terrorists by creating a haven for them in the chaos of war.

"At the moment," NIC Chairman Robert L. Hutchings said, Iraq "is a magnet for international terrorist activity."

Before the U.S. invasion, the CIA said Saddam Hussein had only circumstantial ties with several al Qaeda members. Osama bin Laden rejected the idea of forming an alliance with Hussein and viewed him as an enemy of the jihadist movement because the Iraqi leader rejected radical Islamic ideals and ran a secular government.

Bush described the war in Iraq as a means to promote democracy in the Middle East. "A free Iraq can be a source of hope for all the Middle East," he said one month before the invasion. "Instead of threatening its neighbors and harboring terrorists, Iraq can be an example of progress and prosperity in a region that needs both."

But as instability in Iraq grew after the toppling of Hussein, and resentment toward the United States intensified in the Muslim world, hundreds of foreign terrorists flooded into Iraq across its unguarded borders. They found tons of unprotected weapons caches that, military officials say, they are now using against U.S. troops. Foreign terrorists are believed to make up a large portion of today's suicide bombers, and U.S. intelligence officials say these foreigners are forming tactical, ever-changing alliances with former Baathist fighters and other insurgents.

"The al-Qa'ida membership that was distinguished by having trained in Afghanistan will gradually dissipate, to be replaced in part by the dispersion of the experienced survivors of the conflict in Iraq," the report says.

According to the NIC report, Iraq has joined the list of conflicts -- including the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and independence movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao in the Philippines, and southern Thailand -- that have deepened solidarity among Muslims and helped spread radical Islamic ideology.

At the same time, the report says that by 2020, al Qaeda "will be superseded" by other Islamic extremist groups that will merge with local separatist movements. Most terrorism experts say this is already well underway. The NIC says this kind of ever-morphing decentralized movement is much more difficult to uncover and defeat.

Terrorists are able to easily communicate, train and recruit through the Internet, and their threat will become "an eclectic array of groups, cells and individuals that do not need a stationary headquarters," the council's report says. "Training materials, targeting guidance, weapons know-how, and fund-raising will become virtual (i.e. online)."

The report, titled "Mapping the Global Future," highlights the effects of globalization and other economic and social trends. But NIC officials said their greatest concern remains the possibility that terrorists may acquire biological weapons and, although less likely, a nuclear device.

The council is tasked with midterm and strategic analysis, and advises the CIA director. "The NIC's goal," one NIC publication states, "is to provide policymakers with the best, unvarnished, and unbiased information -- regardless of whether analytic judgments conform to U.S. policy."

Other than reports and studies, the council produces classified National Intelligence Estimates, which represent the consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies on specific issues.

Yesterday, Hutchings, former assistant dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, said the NIC report tried to avoid analyzing the effect of U.S. policy on global trends to avoid being drawn into partisan politics.

Among the report's major findings is that the likelihood of "great power conflict escalating into total war . . . is lower than at any time in the past century." However, "at no time since the formation of the Western alliance system in 1949 have the shape and nature of international alignments been in such a state of flux as they have in the past decade."

The report also says the emergence of China and India as new global economic powerhouses "will be the most challenging of all" Washington's regional relationships. It also says that in the competition with Asia over technological advances, the United States "may lose its edge" in some sectors.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Management said...

Iraq War May Incite Terror, CIA Study Says
Think tank sees a breeding ground for militants. It says the risk of a germ attack is rising.
By Bob Drogin
Times Staff Writer

January 14, 2005

WASHINGTON — The war in Iraq is creating a training and recruitment ground for a new generation of "professionalized" Islamic terrorists, and the risk of a terrorist attack involving a germ weapon is steadily growing, an in-house CIA think tank said in a report released Thursday.

The "dispersion of the experienced survivors of the conflict in Iraq" to other countries will create a new threat in the coming 15 years, especially as the Al Qaeda network mutates into a volatile brew of independent extremist groups, cells and individuals, according to the report by the National Intelligence Council.

David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, said those who survived the Iraq war would pose a threat when they went home, "even under the best of scenarios."

But broader trends are likely to overshadow terrorism on the world stage.

Most important, India and China increasingly will flex powerful political and economic muscles as major new global players by 2020, said the council, which likened the rise of the two countries to the emergence of the United States as a world power a century ago.

The two nuclear-armed Asian giants — one a vibrant democracy, the other a one-party state — will "transform the geopolitical landscape" because of their robust economic growth, expanding military capabilities and large populations, the council predicted.

"The rise of these new powers is a virtual certainty," the council said in the report, titled "Mapping the Global Future."

Partly as a result, the council expects the world economy to be about 80% larger than in 2000, and per capita income 50% higher.

The bad news: The United States "will see its relative power position eroded" and the world will face a "more pervasive sense of insecurity" from terrorism, the spread of unconventional weapons and political upheaval that could reverse recent democratic gains in parts of Central and Southeast Asia.

"Weak governments, lagging economies, religious extremism and youth bulges will align to create a perfect storm for internal conflict in some areas," the authors warned. "Our greatest concern is that terrorists might acquire biological agents, or less likely, a nuclear device, either of which could cause mass casualties."

The 119-page report is intended to help the White House and other policymakers prepare for probable challenges by tracing how key trends may develop and influence world events over the next 15 years.

"It's designed to stimulate thought," Robert L. Hutchings, chairman of the council, said at a news briefing at CIA headquarters.

Although few of the forecasts come as surprises, Hutchings said the authors sought to challenge conventional thinking.

"Linear analysis will get you a much-changed caterpillar," he said, "but it won't get you a butterfly. For that you need a leap of imagination. We hope this … will help us make that leap."

The report, the third in a project launched in the mid-1990s, is based on the thinking and comments of more than 1,000 U.S. and foreign experts who participated in more than 30 conferences and workshops over the last year. The text and a computer simulation of possible scenarios are available online at http://www.cia.gov/nic .

The United States will retain enormous advantages and will continue to play a pivotal role in economic, political and military affairs, the report concludes. But Washington "may be increasingly confronted" with managing fast-shifting international relations and alignments.

Washington probably will face "dramatically altered alliances and relations with Europe and Asia," for example, with the European Union increasingly supplanting NATO on the world stage.

The United Nations and international financial institutions "risk sliding into obsolescence unless they adjust" to the changes in the global system, the authors wrote.

"While no single power looks within striking distance of rivaling U.S. military power by 2020, more countries will be in a position to make the United States pay a heavy price for any military action they oppose," they said.

Suspected possession of unconventional weapons by Iran, North Korea and perhaps others will "also increase the potential cost of any military action" by U.S. forces.

But the likelihood that a local conflict could escalate into a total war or nuclear exchange is "lower than at any time in the past century."

11:48 PM  

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