Saturday, June 30, 2012

What reforms needed for an AL Qaeda in decline Part 3

Armaments provision and nature

We cannot talk about a militant group while omitting the primary action course of it: armed confrontations. The paramilitary nature of the network imposes on it a constricted weaponry range and military tactics. Besides the early stages of Al Qaeda where thanks to the American advanced weapons the network could almost rival conventional armies, nowadays the modus operandi has been stagnating in favor of a militia warfare style which is not only outdated but undermined by the armaments of the network opponents. 

Making use of the AK 47 and mortars as standard artillery has proven to be redundant in fighting US troops in Afghanistan, with few casualties ever scored on bases storming and military compounds shelling. The suicide bombings, on the other hand have gained the bad reputation of overlooking military personnel and instead, inflicting heavy civilian losses with no value for the military equation of power in the region. A quick insight on Al Qaeda’s major weapons with actual impact on foreign troops tops IEDs as the deadliest of all. The Improvised explosive devices are inflicting major losses to coalition forces in Afghanistan, with hundreds of victims in the last years flying back to the US either in coffins or missing body parts. What makes these bombs efficient and reliable are aspects which are worth considering: non-confrontational and remote. 

Applying these features to the broad armament capabilities of Al Qaeda while getting rid of the other weapon sets will allow a concentration of expertise, logistics and finance into a weapon sector counting numerous achievements in its archives.  What else besides IEDs could Al Qaeda opt for? The popular choice is, as further confirmed by eminent militant groups around the world such as Hezbollah and Hamas, the usage of short range missiles and katyusha rockets. The shift of target allows a full usage of such technology which, besides being cheap and affordable in the black market, is of a destructive effect. Boosting the rocket launch capabilities of Hamas and collaborating with the group to carry out strikes inside Israel will spare Al Qaeda more human resources while increasing its recruitment process due to the achievements it ought to publicize and take advantage of. The possession and acquiring of these types of weapons is not demanding, especially in the recent circumstances of the chaos post Arab spring. After a flow of weapons from Pakistan and Asian neighbors, the chart of displacement of weapon stocks is now displaying a whole different picture. Libya has become the primary source of non-state regulated weapon transfer to the Middle East in the latest months, and the recent instance of seizure of weapons in Egypt declared by the prime minister as the biggest of its kind in Egypt history, is no more than a confirmation of the new reality enclosing the fruitful business of arms trade. With Syria on the edge of collapse, Al Qaeda ought to secure already strongholds in Opposition tows in order to establish the necessary contacts for future smuggling of weapons out of Syria which, it is worth remembering, is one of the major importers of Russian missiles in the region.

Besides the arms with physical reach onto the enemy, it is now becoming a fashionable trend to turn for the new warfare measures in the cyberspace, as it is an effective mean of selective destruction with no costs involved. The increasing reliance of infrastructure networks, electricity and water grids as well as military, energetic and nuclear industries on the electronic communication lines of execution makes them a perfect target for wide scale attacks with potential effects on whole regions if not the whole country. Be it through the misuse of water grids, the deflection of drones and GPS navigated rockets or through the disturbance of nuclear power facilities, Al Qaeda has all to win from investing heavily in developing operational teams specifically trained to carry cyber-attacks on governments and groups. The affordability of electronic resources for cyber training, and the the rise of skilled and qualified human resources in the domain of communications and electronics will enable Al Qaeda to exploit the fragile cyberspace defense system of major nations who came to invest in the domain of countering cyber-attacks recently with the emergence of the virus cases of Stuxnet and flame.

To be continued...
Next: Human Resources and Recruitment

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