Push and Pull of Religious Extremism: Who Are the Terrorists,
How Are they Recruited, What Can We Do?
(David Des Roches August 9, 2017)
Transcript available below
About the speaker
David Des Roches is Associate Professor at the Near East South Asia Center for Security Studies at National Defense University. Prior to this, he was the Defense Department director responsible for policy concerning Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Prior to this assignment, he has served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Liaison to the Department of Homeland Security, as senior country director for Pakistan, as NATO operations director, and as deputy director for peacekeeping.
An Airborne Ranger in the Army Reserve, he was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan. He has commanded conventional and special operations parachute units and has served on the US Special Operations Command staff as well as on the Joint Staff.
He graduated from the United States Military Academy and obtained advanced degrees in Arab Politics from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, in War Studies from Kings College London, and Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. He has also attended the Federal Executive Institute, the German Staff College’s Higher Officer Seminar, the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
His academic awards include Phi Kappa Phi, the British Marshall Scholarship, designation as a Distinguished Alumnus of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, and selection as a Joseph Malone Fellow of the National Council of Arab American Relations.
For more on terror propaganda and recruitment, see Christopher C. Harmon’s Westminster talk, The Terrorist Argument: Modern Advocacy and Propaganda. Des Roches will address Westminster on The Ongoing War in The Persian Gulf: Why Does it Matter to the US? on August 28.
Robert R. Reilly:
We’re very happy to welcome here tonight for the first time, Dave Des Roches, about whom I was asked to specially say two very important things. One is that he had 106 military parachute jumps and he’s still standing on the original equipment. And number two is that he was the first major graduate in Arabic studies from West Point. Did I cover the essentials there? Okay.
The other important thing to note is that we had the largest number of RSVPs for his appearance here tonight at 91. Whoever didn’t come, thank you for staying home because we don’t have that much room.
By the way, I just want to quickly announce for those of you who have seen the invitation it’s unnecessary but Congressman Frank Wolf, who is in northern Iraq as we speak, will be back to give us a first hand report on what survives of the Christian community there and what it’s prospect may be. So, please join us next Wednesday night.
Now, to flesh out Dave Des Roches’ bio here, he is Associate Professor at the Near East South Asia Center for Security Studies at the National Defense University. Prior to that he was the DOD Director responsible for policy concerning Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, an area of the world where not much takes place so easy 9-to-5 job there.
Prior to that assignment he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Liaison to the Department of Homeland Security, as senior country for Pakistan, as NATO Operations Director, and Deputy Director for Peacekeeping.
He is an Airborne Ranger in the Army Reserve. He was decorated with the bronze star for his service in Afghanistan. He was commander of both conventional and special operations parachute units and has served on both the U.S. Operations Command Staff as well as the Joint Staff. Please join me in welcoming Dave Des Roches.
David Des Roches:
Well, thank you. It is indeed an honor to be here. I really appreciate you coming in. This is a beautiful summer day for August in Washington and the fact that some of you have chosen to spend it with me instead of out as God intended, I regard as a bit of a challenge. I also note that some of you are armed.
So- so I’ll endeavor to give everybody what they want. I just hope that giving- my subject is very broad range and I have to say at the outset that this is the basis of my research. It does not reflect any U.S. policy.
Hopefully, we’ll get something out of this, but if not, I’m reminded of an academic conference I went to on a similar summer’s night at the University of Bristol in England. As you can tell by my accent I am a also a graduate of the University of London. My wife is a historian of some renown. We went to a conference at Bristol on Victorian painting and we were a little late. We came in. We had to crawl over people, sit right in the middle of it, and we sat down, and I was trying to make heads or tails of it, and after about five minutes we realized that we were in the wrong conference. And instead of Victorian art, it was actually on beneficial insects.
But I did learn something of use. Apparently, the easiest way to determine the sex of ants – I learned this in the conference – is you take the ants and you throw them in a bucket of water and if they sink, girl ant. If they float, boy ant. Okay. I- I- I haven’t seen any- any- any pistols removed from their holsters so I will take that as approval. If I can survive that I believe I can survive anything.
This is my email, my Facebook, and my Twitter if you want to join the 40 people who follow me on Twitter and at least three of them are my mother under various pseudonyms. Although I should point out I have published books in Berlin and in London and all that. The only thing I’ve ever written that has impressed my wife is that one of my tweets was retweeted by Morgan Fairchild. I’ll just tell jokes. On with the topic.
This is what I’m going to talk about today. You can interrupt me at any time. I am aware, I’m in your debt for coming out on a beautiful night, so I won’t be- police yourselves, you know. If you decide somebody’s going on too long or something, you guys suppress him because I’ll just be the punching bag as long as you want.
So, first off, who are these people? I want to start off with this model. This is the radicalization model used by the FBI. When I speak to foreign groups, and I generally do speak to foreign groups, I point this out to make a point about the strength of the United States, which is in most countries there is a centralized ministry of the interior, a centralized law enforcement agency that says ‘this is how it is’ and propagates it downward and everybody does that.
This model was actually developed by the New York City Police Department. It made its way up to the FBI, which said ‘hey, that looks pretty good’. They tweaked it a little bit and then they adapted it. This was done to counter Islamist terrorism, but I would point out that this radicalization model can apply to just about any form of political violence.
And generally, the first time I taught a terrorism course was when I was a starving young political appointee in the Clinton White House Drug Czar’s Office in the ’90s. I taught a course on terrorism at the Department of Agriculture night school.
If you think it’s bad sitting through a three hour lecture at night, it’s even worse when you have to give that three hour lecture at night. It was a living hell. Some people were traumatized by the impeachment. I was traumatized by that class.
But in those days terrorism was viewed as [an] exclusively rightwing Christian problem in the United States. That’s right. Still is. I generally draw on those things to do that.
And what you can find is when you look down this model here, and I will use my high tech pointer, you have four stages: pre-radicalization, identification, indoctrination, and action. Now, people can move all up and down this until they get to the last step. There’s still no thing here.
So, for example, you know, my mother probably is, you know, dedicated to, you know, countering abortion, which was a major issue in the rightwing movements that we looked at, Eric Rudolph, the Atlantic Olympics bomber. My mother probably goes all the way down here and stops at this point, thank god, but this could apply to… This could apply to Irishmen.
David Des Roches:
Yeah, that’s right, along with every other negative you can think of in the world. It’s amazing, in America, cardinals and senators tell Irish jokes. In Britain, it’s practically a hate crime.
So, pre-radicalization, identification, indoctrination, and action and basically, you have an individual motivation/conversion, a stimulus, an opportunity, and then that leads to action. So, the first one is conversion and reinterpretation of faith, whether it’s radical, say, could be radical Catholicism or Protestantism for abortion clinic bombers, or it could be a commitment to uniting the 26 counties of Ireland, or it could be to imposing a global caliphate.
Then, the individual accepts the cause, becomes isolated from his former life, you know, perhaps some domestic training or overseas experience. That leads to further exception and a propensity for action. And again, you can find this universally. And then finally, intensified group bonds, increased vetting opportunities, training camps, financing – basically, a conspiracy in legal terms. That leads to conviction, ready for action, and finally, you have action.
Now, where can government most effectively intervene? This is just me doing this. The first one is just motivation and the conversion. So, this is the hardest part to intervene because – and it’s particularly tough for Western democracies because we are based on the idea of freedom of conscience and I don’t think that government – quite frankly – has a role in this. If it does, the actions it takes will almost invariably be counterproductive, so it’s up to people like you who are willing to sacrifice one of the most beautiful summer nights I’ve ever heard to listen to some bald, overweight man in a dead man’s suit.
The second one is the opportunity. If you look at foiled plots, Islamist-inspired plots, you’ll find that a majority of them are reported by people within the religious community, usually within a mosque, and what they say is ‘we were at services and all of a sudden this guy, this eighteen year old stands up and says we’re not true Muslims because we’re serving, you know, the illegitimate regime’.
And so engagement with that is a big deal, and when I say engagement, I don’t necessarily mean having police spies in that, I mean having police teach bicycle safety classes to the members of the mosque, and I mean police dealing with things like vandalism and parking, the same as with any other religious institution.
I live about fifty yards from a synagogue and parking is a big issue on Saturdays. Thank god it’s not a Catholic Church because then we’d have problems Wednesday night for bingo as well. Basically, the point of this is to have people who are seen as friendly and approachable because, by and large, people want to do the right thing and if you look at the level of violence, you’ll see that.
The next one is overseas training, domestic training. Basically, government can intervene effectively when people get involved with one more than one person in illegal activities. A conspiracy is always harder to foil than a dedicated person.
Training camps, surveillance, and finance: one of the most difficult things we do is tracking money from legitimate sources to illegitimate sources, but one of the best things the U.S. government does is tracking money from criminals to criminals because criminals have to work with other criminals and there really is no honor among thieves, there’s just opportunity.
And then finally, facilitation, recruitment, and financing, this is our final opportunity for governments to intervene. Now, I give you this to frame the remarks I’m about to make because this is sort of my perception as to where government can intervene to stop radical violence of any flavor based on my study of the literature.
And I’m going to now talk about a study that was done by a psychologist. This was done several years ago and I picked it because it accorded with my own prejudices. Basically, this was a psychologist and what she did was she analyzed a rather small sample size at that time. It was about 58 people who had either been captured or defected from Daesh and gave interviews on television, so there are some flaws with this. The sample size was small, it was not necessarily a universal sample. There’s no double blind because she was passively receiving the information, she wasn’t able to answer all questions, but basically, she tried to categorize these people.
And the first category was to break them up into where they were from, so External Western: these are people from France, Britain, Belgium; External Arabs: basically, Arabs who are not from Iraq or Syria, Tunisia and Saudis, Jordanians; and then Internal: Iraqis and Syrians. And then she tried to categorize them according to their motivations: status seekers, identity seekers, you can read it for yourself.
So what did we get? First off with your motivations, the biggest ones were Status and Identity Seekers, and within that they were looking at group ideological, personal, social, political status. Identity was up there as well. Revenge was a distant second. This is kind of interesting: you have a large number of death seekers, thrill seekers as their primary motivation, but let’s break it up by the origin of these fighters and see what that gets us.
First, let’s start with Westerners. When you look at Westerners – again, this is a very small group – so, for example, 13%, 12%, 13%, it’s more or less the same size, what you see is 62% of these people were identity seekers.
What does that mean?
David Des Roches:
What that means is these are people who believe their only way they can express their identity as a Muslim, the only way that they can gain assistance and define themselves is by joining Daesh. The Daesh propaganda – Daesh, ISIS, ISIL, I’ll say Daesh because I’m academic and I have to use foreign words, otherwise my pay gets cut – these are people who basically said, ‘I’m not Belgian, I will never be Belgian, I will never be accepted by these people, the only way I can find my identity is doing this’.
You said a sense of longing?
David Des Roches:
Yes, that’s right. They feel alienated from the country in which they live and the identity in which they live, and so what I argue is that that represents a failure of assimilation, full stop, a failure of assimilation. I would go a little further, and let me show you some ideological leg and tell you that in 2006 at the U.S. Army War College I wrote my thesis on the need for a national assimilation policy in the United States.
And it went over – my parents are immigrants. I come from Canada, which to hear my parents talk, you think that they tunneled under the Berlin Wall with a spoon, but, you know, Canada has a national identity problem and quite frankly, if Canada were an island, if it did not have the United States to define themselves negatively against – there were troops on the streets in Montreal in the ’70s when I was a boy. I can still remember that – in Montreal, you know, not Beirut, Montreal, as we call it ‘Beirut with polar bears’.
The problem is in Europe, assimilation is a much greater challenge than in the United States. Historically, immigrants have immigrated to the United States. I argued in my War College thesis this was a product of historical accident not policy, that we could not rely on it, and that technological factors were making it less inevitable that new immigrants would assimilate because, for example, you know, you could speak Italian and only Italian on the Lower East Side of New York in 1910, and maybe up until the 1930s, but you certainly couldn’t do it in the 1970s. You had to get a job, but today, you can live in Minneapolis and you can speak only Korean, you can watch television, you can read newspapers, you can listen to internet radio, you can order stuff only in Korean. And so the critical mass of a language which was required to assimilate is done.
I looked at a few other things, for example, the rise of a welfare state. If you have to go out and get a job, then you are greatly, greatly motivated to speak the language of that workplace, but if you don’t have to get a job – anyhow, I made that argument in 2006 and I think that this kind of shows – perhaps I’m just holding a grudge because nobody understood my paper.
Twelve percent of these people are redemption seekers. These are the small time drug dealers who are converted in prison, basically, the guys who make a mess of their life and decide that they want to go on and do something and become a shining knight of Islam instead of that. We saw the same thing with the Irish Republican Army, you know, people running drugs. For a while in the ’70s pretty much every drug dealer in New England, you know, claimed an IRA thing, Whitey Bulger, you know, supporting the IRA. So redemption is also a strong motive, but what’s really remarkable here is 62% are identity seekers.
By the way, thrill seekers, this is really scary. This is basically people who want to play Call of Duty, but in real life in a consequence-free environment and honestly, this is a challenge for any government. I don’t know how we can deal with this.
Do you know of the previous screen, you say Westerners, how many are born in Europe and of European parents of-
David Des Roches:
That’s a good question. I did not look at that and the numbers are so small that you can’t draw any conclusions, but generally, when you see a convert, it’s usually a redemption seeker and when you see the identity seekers, they are usually immigrants or children of immigrants. The numbers are so small, you can’t really draw any hard and fast conclusions other than general traits because the sample numbers are small and I’m obliged to give you that. I can’t really present this as a scientific study. I can present it as a rhetorical study.
May I interrupt just for a moment before we go any further? Can you give us the groups on jihad? Can you explain what your concept of jihad is, what it means, where it comes from, what are its origins?
David Des Roches:
Well, that’s not the subject of my speech and I’m aware that defining jihad specifically is kind of a political litmus test in the United States right now, so let me give you two sides of it. Jihad literally means struggle in Arabic. So in Arabic there is a three consonant root, ja-ha-da, so jihad, mujahideen, ijtihad, all comes from the same root. And the beauty of Arabic is that you take the root, you put vowels, you add little things on like legos, so jihad, struggle, mujahid, one who struggles, it goes on like that.
So one interpretation is that this refers to struggle, it refers to the internal struggle, the greater jihad, which is the struggle within yourself or person, personal virtue, and then the lesser jihad is the struggle to wage holy war, which is how people particularly on the Right in the West interpret jihad, which they go with the definition of holy war. It is an obligation of Islam to wage holy war against the unbelievers until they are subjugated to Islam, either converted or subjugated to Islam, so there’s two.
And of course right now in the United States there are some people generally in government who hold that the second definition and there are other people in the scholarly world generally who hold the first definition, but I should point out the folks in Daesh, the recruiters, they go with the second definition too.
So you know, my mom always said that in matters of faith, you should never question a person, so I take everybody at their word when they express their faith, but I can tell you that I spent a lot of time in Saudi Arabia. Actually, I’ve given this lecture to senior Saudi officers, like general officers, many times. One of the points I make is now if you think this is compatible, understand this: in the Daesh methodology you are an apostate. You claim to be a Muslim and you’ve turned yourselves. What is the sentence for apostasy in strict Sharia? That’s right, it’s death. I on the other hand just have to pay a tax, so this talk goes over pretty well.
But I am aware that that issue that you’ve asked is sort of a political litmus test in the United States and so I try to avoid it. I only answer the question out of courtesy to you. It applies to terrorist recruitment very severely because they basically say – particularly if you’re an identity seeker – you want to be a Muslim? If you want to be a Muslim, then your obligation is to either make the hijrah to immigrate to the caliphate, the land that is under the control of Islam, run by Islamic rules or you must support the hijrah from your place there by either challenging the laws, sending funds and weapons, conducting attacks, or the internet thing, you know, grooming people to leave, that sort of thing, so that is definitely their line.
Now, the issue we have here is and let me go back to an Irish setting. If the British government, which it has done several times, said, you know, all you Catholics are bad, bad, bad, we’re not going to incorporate you in any civil thing, then you’d still have bombs going off in London and so, you know, recognize the good, recognize the bad.
The other thing that complicates this in an Islamic setting vis-a-vis a Christian setting is in Christianity there is as you know a large number of commentary on the Bible, but in general, that commentary is regarded as opinions. The writing of Saint Thomas Aquinas, you know, the doctors of the Catholic Church, those are regarded as opinions. And so you can argue them, you can debate them. Different orders of monks, you know, the Franciscans arose as a counteraction to the Dominicans, which were sort of a more vivid version of the Benedictines. That’s all seen as legitimate discourse for the most part aside from some unpleasantness in Florence in the 15th century.
In Islam, first-off, the Quran is the literal word of God. the Bible has revelations, you know, the Gospel according to Luke, the Gospel according to John, there is no ‘gospel according to’. It’s all the literal word of God. Then you have a huge body of the Hadith, sayings of the prophet which are less than divinely inspired, but still viewed, and the Hadith, you know as I said, there are volumes and some are regarded as better than others, but when you’re dealing with an 18-year old who’s searching for identity, it’s pretty easy to bamboozle these guys. And there is not a Christian comparison to Hadith. That’s a lot of Islamic theology. I hope you find it satisfactory or at least respectable. Let me move on.
External Arabs: Egyptians, Jordanians, Tunisians for the most part; Saudis. Now note 62% were identity seekers in the West. Only 11% are identity seekers in the Arab world. 23% are seeking justice. This is justice in abstract sense like justice for Northern Ireland not justice for me personally. 22% are seeking status. I went to a university, I have a degree, I cannot get a job, I’m selling fruit, but I can go and become a knight of Islam and fight the enemy there. 22% are thrill seekers, roughly double the number we saw in the West.
And 11% – this is really scary – are death seekers, basically, I’ve made a mess of my life and the only way I can get out is to do this. And by the way, this is not unique to Islamic culture. What is the greatest nationalistic icon in Mexico? The nineteen cadets who threw themselves off the wall rather than surrender to the Yankees in 1848, so this is not exclusive. They were Catholic, so it’s not exclusive to the United States. What’s unusual about this is this reflects an inability of government to address the needs of its citizens in the Arab world. This is really a governance issue.
Now, let’s look at Iraqis and Syrians. This is really remarkable: status means getting a job, getting enough money that you can someday get married. Revenge means revenge for an act taken against you, your brother, your family personally, you know, my brother was shot by a Shia policeman. Responsibility: my father’s died, so I’ve got to do that. Identity is only 7% and that’s mostly the Sunni-Shia thing.
You know, the Iraqi government became basically a armed gang of the Shia Dawa Party, which is why ISIS initially blew through so quickly. I’ve also argued that the parallel is not Napoleon blowing through Central Europe, it’s the British retreat from Burma in 1942 or the Dutch retreat from Indonesia where basically you had a popular uprising against a colonial occupier, also a pretty effective military force doing it, but it’s not a juggernaut. What it reflects is a failure of governance.
This, this, this, and this – so basically, 90% – I argue would be eliminated if there was effective governance in Iraq and Syria. This is why I’ve always argued that Daesh is a failure of governance not a military failure. Now people say you say that because you’re an army-civil affairs guy and you would say that, but I’ll go toe-to-toe with anybody on that.
Now, is the problem going to get better or worse? Oil prices. The breakeven price for the GCC, which are the best-off countries in the Arab world, this is the amount of money that oil has to sell for for the governments to make a profit. So even in Saudi Arabia, oil needs to be about $100 a barrel. Okay, what was the price of oil today? It was about $46. It’s less than $50. Nobody predicts – even with Venezuela going up the spout – that oil is going to get above $80 a barrel, so the only countries that are going to be able to float are Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE. Even Saudi Arabia is going to be in trouble.
Youth Bulge and Unemployment
And here’s another problem coming down the pike. This is kind of a busy chart, but basically what it shows is youth unemployment as a percentage and then percentage of the population aged between 15 and 24 years old. Now, what is the defining characteristic of young men between the ages of 15 and 24 years old? What stands out most about them? What can you say about damn near every man between 15 and 24? I have been an infantry platoon leader, I can tell you, they are stupid.
You know, when I was that age I was perhaps the best illustration of my proposal, but if you talk to anybody who sells car insurance, they will tell you these people, you know, you look at the intake of any jail, you look at the people who go to any emergency room, this is your trouble zone. These are people who are young, active, strong, able to do something, trying to find their way in life, and there is a problem. So if you have a high percentage of unemployment among the youth, and a high percentage of that youth bulge, you have trouble.
The size of the circle indicates relative population, so basically, the world average is 14% youth unemployment and about 16% of people in the demographic danger zone. In the Arab world it is about double that, 30% youth unemployment, and two points higher, just over 18% of people in the danger zone.
But look at some of these other countries. Yemen, failed state, has 21% in that youth danger zone, and about 30% unemployment. Mauretania is a failed state outside of the capital. [It has] 45% unemployment. Libya, in the middle of a civil war, [has an unemployment rate of] 50%. Egypt, wow, look at that unemployment. This is a problem, and I was talking before with this gentleman about Ayman al-Zawahiri, exiled leader of Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda right now is basically the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in exile. All of the senior leadership of Al-Qaeda-main are Egyptian and basically their organization, their governance, their scheme is indistinguishable from Egyptian Islamic Jihad in the 1980s, 1990s before Hosni Mubarak.
Iraq [is a] failed state. Jordan [is] more or less a police state that is perpetually on the verge of failing. I pulled out a [record from the] National Archives in 1956 where Arleigh Burke sent a cable to a commander, which said King Hussein is done for, get rid of him. I remember reading it at the time in the Archives, thinking Arleigh Burke is dead, King Hussein is still King of Jordan. But Jordan has a huge security issue and is constantly bubbling, and constant adjustments have to be made. Somalia [is a] failed state. Oman, vital ally, not a failed state but again, [it] requires oil to be about $100 dollars a barrel for the government to break even.
Tunisia: high employment, highly educated workforce, but again, high unemployment. Morocco, Algeria, these countries, the rich microstates, seem to get away from it. One thing I would point out when you look here [is] this is unemployment. This means having a job, not working but having a job. There is a distinction. That always gets a laugh in Abu Dhabi.
Okay, so where are these people from?
This is 2014 data, but I have not seen this change. The dots show the size of the Muslim population in each of the countries, and then the red line is an estimate of the number of jihadis. This comes from a number of things. What you see is Russia is the largest. These are primarily Chechens, Dagestanis, people from the Caucasus. Russia has been playing pretty sneaky on this. What they do is they kind of encourage these guys to go, and then they revoke their passports while they are out there. They believe they can get rid of their problem and it will never come back to them. I think that is foolish, but who knows. France is second, and again, some of these are converts, but most of these are second, third generation immigrants.
The United Kingdom: most of these are from South Asia. Germany’s [Muslims are] mostly Turks. Australia’s [Muslims are] mostly Lebanese. Belgium’s [Muslims are] mostly from the Maghreb, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia. Netherlands [has the] same thing. The United States’ [Muslims are] mostly Somalis, Somalis and Bosnians. Somalis are the least assimilated group of immigrants in the United States.
What about Central Asia?
David Des Roches:
Oh yeah, I just looked at Europe. I just looked at Europe. That is a good question. Now this is on a per capita basis so you take the size of the population, how many they contribute. Jordan is number one, Tunisia is number two, then Saudi Arabia. This has some Central Asian states in here so you see Uzbekistan, which is a police state, Turkmenistan, which is a crazy police state, Tajikistan, which is kind of always on the verge of civil work. So then France kind of drops down a little bit, so that is kind of what we are looking at. Now compare the unemployment rate and they correlate fairly well, the Arab world’s unemployment rate. And I can tell you, Bosnia-Herzegovina has a very large unemployment rate.
That country is a failed state that is basically kept alive. We handed it over to gangsters. We held elections prematurely because we felt the elections [were imperative]. What we wound up doing was giving a veneer of democratic legitimacy to the gangsters who ran everything, and then we keep a lid on it by just pumping money, mostly from the EU because they do not want to see Bosnian refugees showing up in Munich. So there is no surprise in seeing that there.
Kosovo [is a] remarkable country that became independent under primarily our, I would argue, ill-advised, I argued at the time, ill-advised intervention, but there was a canard going around that a genocide was in place, and everybody was still feeling guilty about Rwanda. And you had a unique thing, Bob Dole pushing for military intervention. And one thing that I always point out to people is – you know, I speak at universities in Britain, and I hear a lot about the Iraq war they say, well, George Bush did not have a UN mandate for that. Well, Bill Clinton did not have a UN mandate for Kosovo, and Kosovo is the precedent that Putin cited in annexing parts of Georgia, so karma is is not necessarily exclusive to the Indian subcontinent.
This is 2016, so it is a little later. This is arrests in the EU. So prior to this, I was focused on people going to fight with Daesh in Syria. This focuses on people internally, and obviously, it is 2016 so this was, you know, we had the Nice attacks and things of that nature. So France takes the lead. The United States does not appear on this. Most of the people arrested in the United States for this sort of stuff are people who are seeking to leave the country to fight some place, and unlike in Europe, where they are generally going to Daesh, in the United States, they are generally people seeking to go to Somalia. So again, I would argue a failure of assimilation.
But France has taken the lead and part of that reflects the alienation of their culture, the inability after 40 years, 50 years now, to integrate Maghrebis who came, particularly Algerians in the wake of the Algerian War. A good book is called [The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and Its Arabs, which was written] by Andrew Hussey, who is the head of the University of London Institute in Paris. And he talks about this. There is a lot of that literature, so kind of skim through that.
So these countries generally have large numbers of Maghrebi immigrants, and that is kind of where the problem goes. These are people who in their own country [faced] immense unemployment. There is unemployment there. If you want to make an ideological point, you look at the role of state/national economy, it kind of goes one, two, three. You can you can toy with the data to draw your own conclusions.
How are they recruited? Again, I started off with the FBI box, so let me illustrate this again. You have pre-radicalization. Then you have self-identification, which is usually triggered by a crisis. Now, for people who are seeking justice, a lot of times that crisis is something like an American outrage committed in Afghanistan or in Iraq, or a Shia outrage in Iraq, or Bashar al Assad massacring in Aleppo. This is commonly cited. One, this is an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank during what was known as the Second Intifada, and because of the perspective it looks as though the soldier is pointing right at the woman, who is shielding her child. There actually was some perspective there, but you know, there was a child there. Basically, they were pinned down and [the child] was shot, it became a cause célèbre and pretty much everybody in the region can tell you about this.
There are some images that are resonant. Recall the Vietnamese child, running down the road with a napalm strike. Alan Kurdi, the two-year-old boy who drowned trying to cross from Turkey. You know, those images stay with you forever. This image is resonant, and it leads to a crisis. Sometimes the crisis is a personal crisis. The redemption seekers, the guys who wind up in jail, find that. [Anwar al-Awlaki], the former imam of the Fairfax Mosque who then moved to San Diego, [is an example]. His crisis, I would argue, I cannot prove it, was that he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute here in Fairfax. Now, if you are a man of religion even in this day and age, that still, you know, [is bad], so he kind of went off the deep end.
So [there is] pre-radicalization, then indoctrination. And al-Awlaki’s role is critical because he is an indoctrinator who appears again and again and again because he was a native speaker of English, a fluent speaker of English, [he] understands our system [and he] understands how to do it. And then finally, jihadization or the thing of radicalization, the step of action that I spoke of. The key step is the intermediary in the indoctrination stage, and that is where I think our efforts should be focused as a government, towards the intermediaries, and that is why I think so much effort was made in tracking this guy down because we knew who he was.
Now, one of the ways that Daesh communicates is by Twitter.
There was an analysis done two years ago by Brookings [Institution] and Google, and they basically analyzed Daesh tweets. And what they found out is that there was a small number of hyperactive tweeters, and then that went around and zipped around. There were many passive followers, so what governments and in some instances individual citizens did was they just started reporting these people and shut them down.
Now, I questioned whether or not that is effective. I would argue that it might be better to just let people go, and then you can kind of see who is active and doing it, you know. A lot of times people are focusing on moving people off of social media. Part of the problem is the U.S. government. Western governments can no longer keep secrets, but it would seem to me that it would be better to allow these people to broadcast, you know.
And what we see now is people moving into other formats. The evolution of cryptic security among these groups has really developed, so now they are using Telegraph and other things, but there still are occasional tweets going on. It is still an active front, and people do use it to recruit candidates, not to indoctrinate them but to recruit them.
By the way, as a footnote, one of the methods [that] the 9/11 hijackers would use is they would open up a Yahoo! Mail account, and rather than sending each other messages, they ensure that both ends had access to it, and they would write letters as drafts. They would be saved as drafts. They would not be sent, and so initially back in the pre-9/11 era that was found to be capable of foiling Western detection. It was always the method used by David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell.
So how do people recruit?
Imagine you just moved to San Diego, California and you are a Green Bay Packers fan, okay? So you are a Packers fan, you are living in San Diego. So the first thing you do is you probably want to shoot yourself, but the second thing you do is, you know, say you want to get together with other people doing it. The Internet is a wonderful thing.
You know, my mother likes to make quilts, and in the old days, you know, you would probably have to live in a big city or, you know, close to Lancaster, some area. You might find somebody who did a mimeograph news sheet, and if you are lucky, you could send them a self-addressed stamp envelope, and they would send you back a copy. Now there is a whole global community that she gets with and they exchange ideas and patterns and stuff like that, and there are YouTube videos showing you how to sew something. And she routinely, you know, communicates with people in Kentucky.
Similarly, if you are a pedophile, this is a golden era in which people are swapping stuff all over. Information is changed everywhere. Well, these guys are doing the same thing. So if you are a Green Bay Packers fan in San Diego, you know, you go on social media and you look for people whose handle say, ‘cheese head,’ or ‘Favre is God,’ or something like that. Same thing, you know, if their image is a Green Bay Packer thing or a picture of Vince Lombardi. They are avatars.
Well, these guys do the same thing. So they go on social media, they look at Facebook, they look at Twitter. Kids now use Instagram and different things, fine, Snapchat, whatever, but you see if you find somebody who tweets out on Muslim holy days, you know, the same way you know if you are trying to find where Catholic mass is and you are in, you know, the Midlands of Britain where there are no Catholics, it is only Protestants. You see somebody who, you know, maybe will, you know, tweet out a papal announcement or something like that.
They do the same thing, so they will do a search of social media, and if somebody’s name is Omar or Mohammed, or they tweet out, you know, Kareem Ramadan on Ramadan, or if they say, you know, I am doing this, then they make initial contact. They say, hey, brother, how are you? [It is the] same thing you would do you for [someone who calls themselves] “cheese head for life” [if you were a Green Bay Packers fan living in San Diego].
They make the contact via Facebook or Twitter. Then if they want to take the relationship [to the next level], they say, well, you know, hey, let us talk about the Green Bay Packers. This is good, you know. Would you like to go on a Facebook chat? Would you like to go on to SMS? Would you like me to send an email? Eventually, they move on to Skype, Kik or some other format, Telegraph, or something like that, and there are new ones coming up all the time, for formal instructions.
Two years ago there was a New York Times story about a woman, a young woman, who was recruited in Washington State by ISIS, and basically it was determined that there was a recruiter in Birmingham, England, who was talking to her for 10 hours a night. She was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. She lived with her grandmother in the middle of nowhere. Literally nobody had ever spent as much time on her in her entire life. And you know what this guy was saying was, you know, become a Muslim and we will send you stuff. They would send her gifts via Amazon or whatever.
And they were trying to get her to leave the United States and go to Syria, and they said we have a husband for you. And she said, well, now that I am a Muslim, should I go to the mosque, Daniel? There is a mosque in the next town. No, no, no, those are bad Muslims. They want to isolate them and control them. The methodology is the same, quite frankly, as [what] a pedophile uses, they or anybody else. You identify your candidate, you talk to them, you shower them with affection, you tell them what to do, you try to control their actions, you try to isolate them from the world you know, and then you try to get them to take action.
These are the three English school girls from Bethnal Green, London. They are of Bangladeshi descent. These are pictures [of them] as they were leaving Gatwick Airport. They left with or without the knowledge of their parents. It is somewhat unclear because their father it turns out is a bit of an activist, but the official narrative that was published was that they left without the knowledge of their parents. They said they were going to The Netherlands. There is an established pattern where you would go from the UK to the Netherlands, from the Netherlands to Turkey, [and] from Turkey you would be picked up, drive to the border, cross over. I believe at the last count [what] we saw was that two of them had died and one of them is still uncertain. One died in an airstrike. One we think may have been executed for trying to leave the group.
These are typical Twitter avatars of ISIS supporters. So, they show Al Zarqawi, the ISIS flag, a car bomb attack, and this attack with the ISIS flag, and the ever-popular Twitter green egg.
Now, what kind of images does Daesh tweet when they want to get out [their message]? This is really where we get into some cognitive dissonance and an inability to understand our enemy. A lot of times people say this is the new cold war, this is our cold war, this is a battle of civilizations, clash of civilizations, [and] we have to do this. I would argue that in many aspects this is harder because at least in the Cold War, we kind of had agreement on the same goals.
So, Khrushchev would say in the West there are people dying on the streets. You say you want to provide for everybody, but your capitalist system leaves some people, you know, dying in the streets. And you heard a lot about things about how there was organized crime in Cuba, and now there is literacy and doctors exported to Angola (along with soldiers). There was at least an agreement as to the goal, and you could get these god-awful Billy Joel songs about, well, the Russians love their children as we do.
Here you have some different things. So these are images actually used in Daesh recruiting. The first one shows Daesh in Syria executing somebody for not complying. Most people are horrified by this. This is strong, and this is one thing that we have a problem with. A lot of the Western agenda does not go over well. When you look at the audience that we are looking at in some of these countries, the idea, for example, the idea of female empowerment in Afghanistan is not generally positively received. The ISIS execution of homosexuals [is popular].
The analogy I make here is – and I think there are people in the audience who are old enough to remember [that] about 10 years ago an American citizen was caught spray-painting on a wall in Singapore, and he was scheduled to be caned. Do you remember that? And it was reported in the United States, oh my god, this is barbaric, but a lot of people were writing letters to newspapers, saying that is a good idea, we should cane people for writing graffiti on walls here. [It is] kind of the same thing here. So, the things that might appeal to us or might be part of our agenda are not the same there.
The Daesh magazine made a point of printing some details of Eric Fanning, who was the last Secretary of the Army in the Obama administration, as a means of showing that the West was decadent and unable to do this. This shows the execution of someone prosecuted for a crime, and the tweet says, “O Allaah punish the traitors with a great punishment.”
What is this? Whose crib? This is the crib of the six-month-old daughter of the San Bernardino shooters, okay? Now, we look at that, and we are horrified that a mother and father go out, knowing they are going to die and leave a six-month-old child behind, but to the audience that is already favorably imposed to see this, this shows the dedication that they have for the cause. This is seen as a sort of a suffering of the martyr, as an indication of sacrifice.
This is one of the San Bernardino shooters. And I am sorry, I apologize for having this, but what is interesting about it was I do not know why they do this, but the police after firing 17 bullets in there, their S.O.P. was that they had to handcuff him in case he was a threat, and so of course, this was repeated around the world as proof that he was executed illegally by the unbelievers. So, that is it.
And again, the challenge is assimilation and alienation. So we in the West and even during the Cold War argued that freedom was a universally good thing, and typically the arguments with the Rooskies was who can better guarantee that freedom. Now here this man is in London. It says Islam will dominate the world, freedom can go to hell. You know, North Korea calls itself the People’s Democratic Republic. ISIS says democracy is apostasy because democracy is the rule of a false god. I cannot imagine a government that we have less in common with than North Korea, but we at least share at least a hip fake to the same ideological goals. Here there is a diametric opposition to that. That is very, very hard for those of us in the West to understand.
This is, of course, the Boston Marathon bombing, and these are the two bombers on Boylston Street just before it went off. And of course, we now know that their parents entered on a humanitarian visa, and the younger one was a student. These boys went to Boston Latin School, which is like [what] Matt Damon [attended]. It is better than any school I ever went to as a high school student. So, that is an issue and that is a real challenge when you are dealing with it.
And one of the paradoxes is heavy-handed government action in this instance will be counterproductive. [It] will be counterproductive. If the message is you are alienated, you are not part of this, having the government go kicking open doors and checking ID cards frequently will not assuage that feeling of alienation. Again, think about it if these were Irish.
The Paris attacks and San Bernardino attacks: a couple of other things that were highlighted is, first off, internal “ungoverned spaces,” prisons, religious institutions, and universities. This is one of the Paris attackers killing a Paris policeman, who is unarmed as you see, who actually was a first-generation Algerian immigrant. His parents immigrated from Algeria. His parents were from Algeria, and these are the Paris attackers again.
So what you have got is an issue [with] prisons. Look, in the United States we do a horrible job of effectiveness in prison. Set aside the ideological things. Prisons become universities of crime. The goal of a prison is to punish, to rehabilitate, and to prevent, and we kind of gave up on the last two. And we doubled down on punishment with stupid things like three strikes and you are out, the idea that you have a theory of law enforcement based on baseball. It strikes me as extremely illogical, so this is a problem. Time and time again we hear, particularly from that 11 percent of Europeans who are seeking redemption, that the prisons become a university of crime, and this has been known years. If you watch the movie Battle of Algiers from 1962, the Gillo Pontecorvo film, Ali La Pointe is recruited in prison.
Religious institutions [are] always a problem in the West. And again, I would point out that in the United States, a majority of these cases that are foiled are from people within it. You have to engage, but you have to engage in a positive manner. If you try to drive them underground, you lose your visibility. This is a particular issue in Italy where there are only eight licensed mosques in all of Italy. So, what do you have? You have unlicensed mosques. That is problem. There are just too many people to watch in an open society.[A] secondary problem with foreign fighters [is] the returning foreign fighters. We think there are about 130 in the United States. Most are generally already known. The problem is if you cannot lock somebody up, it takes 60 people to follow one guy, roughly. And it takes a hundred people over the course of a year when you work in vacation, leave, stuff like that. It is incredibly expensive, so the attackers at the London Bridge borough market were known to police. The police just cannot follow everybody, particularly if they are going to attack with a truck and a knife, not controlled substances. So it is a very, very real challenge.
A big problem for us are passport holders of friendly nations. Do you know who this gentleman is? [This is] Richard Reid. He is the reason why you have to take your shoes off at the airport. How about this guy? Yeah, the booty bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. By the way, he is a graduate of University College London. His father is governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, one of the richest men in Africa, all acquired legitimately, I am sure. But this is a big problem, you know. He was a British citizen, a convert. [His] father [is] Jamaican [and his] mother [is] English. [He was a] prison convert, a small-time thug, a drug dealer. He was not known to anybody. It was the first time. [A] Nigerian citizen, [he] went to Yemen, went to the UAE, came out.
And basically, the only reason his bomb did not go off is because he was afraid to take it off while he was in flight, so he urinated on that and neutralized the primer, so thank goodness. But this is a real issue, and this is something we dealt with when I was at the Department of Homeland Security, which is how can you separate passport holders of friendly nations without anything that, first off, it can be overtly racist, which puts people off and is ineffective, and secondly, you miss guys like Richard Reid. And so, the compromise that the administration came up with was if you are British, for example, and you have been to certain countries, Syria, Iraq, something like that, then you have to apply for a visa, and I think that is about as good as we are going to get on that.
So what can we do about it? Okay, here is where the talk goes off the rails. So, I apologize for all of you. I looked at a Congressional Research Service report that looked at jihadi actions in the USA. It went from 9/11, so after 9/11. It did not include 9/11 to 2013, so it did not include the San Bernardino shooting. And basically, what you saw was there were 74 plots. 33 involved aspirant foreign fighters. Primarily that meant Somalis trying to leave to go to Somalia to fight with Al Shabab. 19 involved bombings or attempted bombings.
This was really surprising to me. Only three involved firearms. I went back and looked at that again and again. I would have thought that in the United States out of 74 instances, probably 60 would involve firearms. And 27 had multiple tactics unspecified. This is the Times Square bombing. This is really unusual. The guy who did it was an immigrant from Pakistan. He immigrated as a child. He was successful. He worked as a stockbroker. He had a house in Westport, Connecticut. The car that he planted a bomb in is nicer than the car that I drove here to lecture. And what he had in it was a gun locker with a cardboard box and urea-based fertilizer, a fertilizer diesel mix. And then he had gasoline clock timer.
But what was really interesting about this is he also had propane canisters. This is the first time we have seen the possibility of gas-enhanced explosive in the United States. And I am not going to talk about that anymore. If you are interested in it, I can talk about it, but it is significant. Those of you who are Marines know why. I should point out that he made it all the way to Times Square, parked it here, completely evaded security, and was reported by the hot dog vendor, who was an immigrant from Egypt. He basically said, hey, there is something wrong there. So I am not saying that assimilation fails in every instance. What I am saying is that when you deal with bad guys, sometimes you have a failure of assimilation.
Okay, of those 75 plots, six were successful. Four of them were lone wolves. So of course, Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, sporting [what] we call [the] Jimi Hendrix badge. In the Army, you basically get it for breathing for six weeks. And this guy is fascinating. I think we should spend a little bit more time on him. I think he is an identity seeker, but I think he also is seeking redemption because he was pretty much a failure in everything he tried. His parents kept trying to arrange marriages for him, and the brides kept rejecting him. And you know, I mean I am good at dealing with rejection, but that is a function of experience. In that culture it is very, very hard, very, very hard to overcome. His parents are Jordanian immigrants of Palestinian origin.
And this, of course, is again the Boston Marathon where you did not have any evidence of a network or an organization. It was literally just pulling instructions off the internet, watching videos, mostly from Anwar al-Awlaki, and then moving on. So, that is a problem because when you look at the radicalization model, conspiracies are easier for law enforcement to get involved. Think how hard it was to track down the Unabomber, because he was operating by himself.
18 of the 74 said they had individuals who had killed themselves in executing the plot. So this guy died in Syria. He was a Somai from Minnesota who actually did not go to Somalia but joined Daesh and died there. This guy was kind of interesting. He had red hair. [He was] raised in Florida, bounced out of junior college, went to Texas to try again, bounced out of junior college in Texas, told his family he was going back to Florida, [and then] went to Syria. And they actually took pictures of him petting rabbits, and then they filmed him driving a truck bomb into a Syrian Army position.
Now, one way of dealing with it. This is an organizational diagram of the Saudi Ministry of the Interior. There are about five hundred thousand people who work for the Ministry of the Interior in a country of 32 million, and it deals with everything from traffic police to basically like [Saudi Arabia’s equivalent of the] FBI hostage rescue team. But one of the things that is very successful is the Counter Radical Department.
Because the government of Saudi Arabia has rules in the name of Islam, has an Islamic imprimatur, and has a bit of money, when they take somebody who they think is in trouble here, they basically put his entire family on the payroll, then they lock the guy up, and what they do is they have state-approved Islamic leaders say, look, let us look at your ideology and tell you how you got it wrong. They go on and on and on about that, so that is something that Saudi Arabia claims that they have only had about 20 percent recidivism, which is pretty good, but obviously, we cannot do that in the United States. One thing we can do though is maybe if we have people who are trouble, we can send them to Saudi Arabia, assuming the Saudis would be willing to do this.
And I should point out that the Saudis broke up the perimeter bomb cartridge plot. We did not know about that. Those planes were enroute. That was Saudi information. The role of the Saudi government from 1979 until roughly 2001 was subject to questioning, whether they were directed or played. I think that they were played, but since at least 2006, they realized this is a threat to them. And if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I always publish the new issues of the Daesh magazine when they come out, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula magazine. And they have had issues where they basically have all the religious scholars and government officials of Saudi Arabia with targets on their forehead, and call for their death, so they are now in a war. It is definitely their war as well as ours.
So how do you respond?
Well, [we can do] a couple things. This shows the nature of the threat. This was a Daesh video. So what you have got is a sub-Saharan African, an Afghan, a guy who looks Moroccan, a Chechen, a guy who looks like he is from the Levant, a guy who looks like he is from the Gulf, and then somebody wearing the U.S. Army pattern of camouflage. I know that some of you want to hear something more muscular, but I have got to tell you, not every problem can be solved by kicking down a door and there are some instances in which that is counterproductive, particularly when you are dealing with – and recall here in the West, 62 percent of these people are seeking identity, and so a heavy-handed response does that.
So, the first one is preventive policing. Now, that does not mean you buy everybody a soda, but it does mean that you ensure that everybody in the community of interest knows how to get ahold of somebody and has a positive role model in the security assistance. So it is bicycle safety classes, and mosques, and handling instances of parking and vandalism in a very friendly way, the same thing you do for anybody else. It is basically treating everybody the way policing is supposed to work. Preventative policing [has been] the dominant model of policing since the mid ’90s in the United States, and it works. It flat out works.
People have focused on the broken windows theory, roust everybody for jumping over turnstiles because they are probably murderers, but really, that is a secondary effect. The primary effect is not having policemen who are just in cars and only leave to respond to trouble. It is having people going out and engaging the public, and you have to do that with the populations you are concerned about, whether that population is Irish or Muslim. The second is the integration of state local police and federal police in fusion centers.
One of the problems we have is our law enforcement is ineffective. There are over 18,000 law enforcement organizations in the United States. When I was the Defense Department liaison at the Department of Homeland Security, I briefed the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army on our disaster response method and how you have local, state, and then federal [governments], and he was laughing. He was like that will not work. And he was actually saying, okay, so who do the lifeguards on Baywatch work for? Well, that is Los Angeles County.
And, you know, I had to make the point. I said, look, in the United States, we have made a conscious decision that we will accept inefficiency in law enforcement in the interests of preservation of our liberty. Now, sometimes we have compromised on that in the past, but the fusion centers allow that to happen, and it is not just information going down, it is information going up. Witness the FBI’s counter-radicalization model, which came up rather than down.
Enhanced investigative approaches: the federal government is always at a disadvantage, and government in general is at a disadvantage, at hiring internet-savvy people. Why? Because it takes eight months to get hired by government, and if a kid knows how to program computers, he has been hired for six months before he even comes back. Crime always evolves and investigative approaches always evolve. Think about what we can do with DNA evidence versus ninety years ago. People are leaving internet footprints. People are always using cell phones, and we know that that a lot of the recent success in law enforcement is all about tracking cell phones.
And then my final point is balancing security and liberty. You all know the quote that a person who will sacrifice liberty for safety deserves neither. That is true. Guys, we are Americans. We are Americans. We are different, we are better. We are held to a higher standard, and we have to work harder for that, and our ideals demand it. And I had a choice as to which country I wanted to live in, and I wanted to be an American and take on that burden. It is going to be hard. It has to be hard. Tough. It is like male pattern baldness. You learn to live with it.
So let me go back to the radicalization model, and I am sorry, I know this has been tough sweating. But basically, [there are] four stages of radicalization: pre-radicalization, identification, indoctrination, action. And the opportunities for the state to intervene are in circles, and basically, the common thing they have is that they involve people getting involved with other people. So I will recognize that there is a vulnerability in my analysis here, which is [that it is] very hard to track down lone wolves. [It is] very hard to track down lone wolves, and I have not gotten that, and with that in mind, I will yield to your questions. Once again, there is my Twitter handle.
Sir, thank you for that amazing presentation. You focused most of your talk around radicalization of individuals, and there is a great pattern of highly educated, well-resourced individuals who are carrying out these attacks, whether it is [unintelligible] in groups as they become more radicalized. My question for you is [about the fact that] there is a lot of radicalization that happens in ungoverned spaces, deeply impoverished nations overseas. There are terrorist attacks carried out every day that are not in the United States or Western Europe, but are in the Middle East or Africa, Southwest Asia. What if any role do you believe that the desperation of extreme poverty can play in radicalization?
David Des Roches:
Yeah, good question. So the counter argument is always Umar Farouk, the underwear bomber, who lived on Hyde Park corner and drove a Mercedes to class while he was at London University. You know, only the elite go to graduate school at London University.
No, it causes trouble, and we admit that, and we know that. We admit that. We know that. This is a country that invented the Marshall Plan. Part of it was because we are nice people, but part of it was because we knew [that] if we did not solve the problems of devastated Europe and the rest of the world after World War II, we would be fighting brush fires forever. And we wound up fighting some pretty damn significant brush fires even with the Marshall Plan, but yeah, of course it is a cause.
Look, a lot of these people forty years ago would be communists. And when you think about it, one of the things that I think is remarkable is pretty much from the assassination attempts and attacks against the Egyptian state in the ’60s until the assassination of Anwar Sadat, you did not hear about Islamic violence anywhere in the world. It was all communist violence. So, what I would argue – and this is kind of a faculty bar argument – is that your focus on the base causes, which I think is good, and I am aware that, you know, you asked me one litmus test, base causes is another one which basically says, well, you know, unless we solve the Israeli-Palestinian thing, we will always have Islamic terrorism. I do not accept that argument.
But base causes will lead to these conditions, and these people would be addressed by poverty. That is pretty significant. That is pretty significant. And forty years ago, they would have been communists, and 120 years ago, they would have been anarchists.
Going back to your four-phase radicalization model, I could imagine a similar four-phase assimilation model for your thesis.
David Des Roches:[It is] the FBI’s four-phase radicalization model. If I had one, my thesis would have been better received.
I am suggesting that assimilation and radicalization have similar phases, going in opposite directions, and I would like to compare those models and see how that would help you. My understanding of the system of social control outlined by [unintelligible] is a society puts pressure on a subgroup to conform and adopt society’s norms, and to give up those things that are contrary to society’s norms, moderate pressure but pressure. And part of that pressure that the subgroup is supposed to exert pressure on its more extreme subgroup, which are further from society’s norms to give up their more extreme things to conform to the larger subgroup and to conform to society, and so forth until you get to the most extreme.
The opposite is when people view radicals and anti-social groups as the conscience of society, and perhaps a large part of universities [unintelligible] support that the view, that radicals are our conscience. And in that case, you will see de-assimilation or radicalization as a major social credit. In the competition between these two trends, I wonder which one we see coming out ahead, and do you see this four-phase pressure?
And one third question, my apology, I have heard de-radicalizers talk, Muslim de-radicalizers, and their position is we, who are Islamists ourselves, are the correct de-radicalizers, secular Muslims are provocateurs who are symbiotic to terrorists. In other words, those who wish to assimilate to society are provocateurs. We should only support the most to the nearest terrorist groups in order to promote final de-radicalization and accommodate to their accusations against society as part of the process. This seems to me [to be] a losing game in which the radicals hold the ideological hegemony, but I do wish [to hear] your perspective on that.
David Des Roches:
Yeah, well, thanks a pretty cogent observation, and I wish we had had this talk in 2005 when I was trying to write that god-awful thing. I took notes, and I have to give this some thought, but let me just [say] a couple things. First off, Samuel Huntington is known for writing The Soldier and the State, and then The Clash of Civilizations, and his last book is often forgotten, which is Who Are We, and it dealt with assimilation, and he was not dealing with what we are talking about here. He was mostly talking about Catholic, Latin immigration to the United States. And at the time, people said, oh, this is racist, and dismissed it, but I think that it is worth rereading. It is starting to reassert itself. I think it owns a place in the first order of Huntington’s writing and it should be the cornerstone, the touchstone for studies of assimilation.
I agree with your idea about norming and all that, and indeed, the 62 percent of Westerners, the Western Daesh recruits who seek identity, are basically rejecting the norms of the society in which they live in, and are adopting an alternate system of normative, and that would apply to any subculture. We are kind of delving into the world of sociology, and of course, every toilet paper dispenser in the University of London says sociology degrees, please take one, but it is true. And you can look at groups, for example, heroin users, injecting heroin users, who have been remarkably resistant to adopting needle exchanges because that runs counter to the norms of injecting heroin users. And it is a 20-year-old poll for me, so I concur with that, and I just thank you for the observations and your courtesy in sitting in this hot room and listening to me yammer.
My question is based on the assumption that [unintelligible] Pakistan and Afghanistan can be people are radicalized from grade one, when they go to school for the first time. They are not redeemable, and since they are not redeemable, America is bound to lose the war in Afghanistan. It does not matter if it stays for sixteen years or sixty years. Do you think that assumption holds some water?
David Des Roches:
That is a really good question, yeah. I tell you, and I have often said that if Pakistan gets its act together, I am going to retire there because [the] country is so beautiful. It has just got to get rid of the fundos. But you know, when you drive from, as you know, from Islamabad to Peshawar, right when you get off the freeway, there is that big madrasah with the black flag. And you know, if you have got a group of people who are taken from their families at age six, and taught to memorize the Qur’an, but not taught Arabic, you know, yeah, that creates an issue.
However, and here I am not making a scientific argument but an argument of faith, I believe that all men are redeemable. They may not be redeemable through the mechanisms of Western government, and they are probably not redeemable through the mechanisms of the Pakistani government, and similarly such – and I do not wish to be rude, but I do not think I am telling you anything you do not know when I say corrupt institutions, chronically corrupt institutions, breathtakingly corrupt institutions. But I think that all men are redeemable.
So, we have seen, for example, you know, in 1945, it was a general assumption that the Japanese military officer is a fanatic and must be exterminated, and the Chancellor of National Defense University, Ambassador Yamamoto, who everybody mistakenly calls ‘Admiral Yamamoto’ at least once, his father was an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army. So, man can be redeemed, and I just do not know what the answer is for Pakistan, but I just hope that it comes quickly because that country is too beautiful and it has too much human potential to be, you know, trapped in a recurring negative narrative. I am sorry that is not a very satisfactory answer, but it is a hopeful answer.
Robert R. Reilly:
Great. Okay, thank you very much.