Small squads of disaffected men who radicalize one another are more dangerous, harder to detect than lone-wolf radicals, authorities say.
Such self-radicalizing groups are difficult to spot and often have no overt ties with established extremist groups. This L.A. Times articles focuses on Islamist groups in the US, however such “leaderless resistance” has been a tactic of the far right in the US as well.
I suspect this might be what’s happening in Iraq too. The White House constantly says the threat is al Qaeda, yet it’s obvious there are dozens of insurgent groups, and they morph and change sides frequently. So, the problem for the US in Iraq is hardly just al Qaeda, dangerous as they are (and they did claim responsibility for 9/11.) But given the open source warfare approach being used by the insurgents, al Qaeda in Iraq may be only loosely linked with al Qaeda elsewhere, and indeed, that is what reports suggest.
Bush and the neocons appear solely focused on destroying something that doesn’t exist. There probably is no al Qaeda Central Command, and trying to eradicate them in Iraq is chasing ghosts in the mist.
What unquestionably does exists is lots of small groups, loosely affiliated, joining up to end the occupation – and to no doubt enrich themselves through gun running and drug dealing and to slaughter their enemies at the same time. Hardly a vision for peace.
Could there be sleeper cells of Islamists in the US? Sure. Might they want to do us damage? Absolutely. But if force obviously isn’t the answer, and indeed, just makes things worse, then what is the solution? Well, if the U.S. were to leave Iraq and Palestinians had a place to call home, then in my opinion, most of the quite real threat of Islamist extremism would disappear overnight.