Terça-feira, 14 de Setembro de 2010

Nine years after 9/11: Past achievements and the road ahead

By Diogo Noivo


Almost a decade after the terrorist attacks of September 11, one naturally tends to do a balance of achievements and failures in the fight against al-Qaeda. Many analysts and commentators have their own interpretation of what happened in the course of these nine years.

Daniel Byman notices the triumph of counterterrorism policies in the US, as well as the pressure on al-Qaeda that the war in Afghanistan has successfully created, although he is cautious enough to recognize that the problem is far from being resolved.

Bruce Riedel goes straight to the point: al-Qaeda remains alive and deadly. Riedel then continues with his own reading into the nebulous and controversial organizational structure of al-Qaeda.

Bruce Hoffman highlights the increased complexity and diversity of the threat. Hoffman also points out the terrorist radicalization and recruitment taking place within the US.

The above mentioned analysts provide examples of the many possible evaluations of what has happened since 2001.

Here are some other facts and ideas that can be useful for the future:

[1] The main victims of jihadism are and always have been Muslims and Islam. Hence, al-Qaeda and similar groups have lost popular support in Islamic countries. Although its structure is quite atypical if compared with terrorist groups from the recent past, al-Qaeda cannot work (or survive) without a constituency. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy chief, is well aware of that since he has repeatedly tried to moderate the modus operandi of Abu Musaib al-Zarqawi, the former and ruthless leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

[2] The war in Afghanistan has had significant costs at the human, financial and political levels. At the same time, it has crippled bin Laden’s organization.

[3] Osama bin Laden is still at large. His arrest or death would be an unequivocal political victory, but would have little (if any) positive effect on the overall counterterrorism efforts. Ideas do not die with the men that advocate them. Furthermore, jihadism is based on a sense of community, and regardless of what we make of al-Qaeda, its affiliates and offshoots, it is now clear that Islamist terrorism is bigger than bin Laden and ‘al-Qaeda Central’.

[4] In spite of its religious outlines, the problem is political. Therefore, it is important to find an efficient and common counter-narrative to debunk al-Qaeda’s speech.


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publicado por IPRIS às 01:21
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Terça-feira, 7 de Setembro de 2010

IPRIS Viewpoints 18

ETA cease-fire: Handle with caution

By Diogo Noivo

The organization is going through its weakest moment in decades of terrorism, and negotiations are a natural step to take, as it allows the terrorist group to save face under the illusion that it negotiates because it wants and not because it needs to.

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publicado por IPRIS às 17:50
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Sexta-feira, 30 de Julho de 2010

ETA’s decline: Big political opportunities ahead

By Diogo Noivo


July 30th marks a year without Basque terrorist attacks, a clear sign of ETA's decline. However, one cannot say that this day marks a year without fatalities: Jean-Serge Nerin, a French police officer was killed in March 16th during a shootout.

ETA's decline started many years ago. In a nutshell, it began during José María Aznar's second term in office (2000-2004), then had an interlude for the most part of José Luis Zapatero's first term (2004-2008) and finally regained its impetus during Prime Minister Zapatero's second and current government.

ETA has never been as debilitated as it is at this stage. The Basque terrorist organization is lead by young militants with a weak ideological preparation and a scarce (if any) paramilitary training. Furthermore, apart from a committed and mounting police pressure within Spain, ETA now also has to face France – President Nicolas Sarkozy made the fight against ETA a French national goal. Among others, the aforementioned facts are behind the chain of high-profile arrests ETA has suffered over the last months. ETA is facing serious problems in planning, logistics, recruitment and financing.

ETA is in a corner, which constitutes very good news for the Spanish government not only because of the lower probability of terrorist attacks, but mainly due to the political opportunities it presents. ETA's debility gives the government the upper hand in a negotiation scenario. In fact, there are already rumors of a new cease-fire to be offered by the Basque terrorists which, given the circumstances, would not be surprising. The real question is to know what the cease of hostilities will be used for this time. In the past, Zapatero ended up serving ETA's rearmament and propagandistic purposes. Now, he has the necessary conditions to take full control of the process but, in order to successfully accomplish it, police forces and the courts cannot loosen their grip. Peace talks cannot compromise law abidance.

As far as negotiations with ETA are concerned, Zapatero's record is far from brilliant. Nonetheless, one must recognize that the current strategy is correct and working. Let's just hope that the Spanish Prime Minister has learned from his past mistakes...


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publicado por IPRIS às 00:19
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Sábado, 10 de Julho de 2010

EU and Terrorism

Pedro Seabra and Diogo Noivo, "Combate ao Terrorismo na União Europeia: Construção de uma Abordagem Comum" (Segurança & Defesa, No. 14, July/September 2010): 36-47.

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publicado por IPRIS às 00:21
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