The Strategic Effects of 9/11: Introduction

In commemoration of the seventh anniversary of 9/11, Faloja member Abu al-Fadl Madi has been serially posting chapters of his new study, “The Strategic Effects of the Raid on New York and Washington.” He started posting in early August and it looks like he will finish on or around 9/11.  Abu al-Fadl’s study looks interesting, so I’ll be summarizing it throughout the week.

In early July, Abu al-Fadl announced his series as follows:

Since the seventh anniversary of September 11 is rapidly approaching amid the dust rising from battles on many fronts, especially in Afghanistan, the graveyard of invaders, I propose to begin studying the strategic landscape that followed the events of September 11, as well as the possibilities and prospects to which the attacks gave rise, to say nothing of its effects.

The following is a summary of the introduction he posted in early August:

  • American strategists don’t agree on the strategic effects of the September 11 attacks. They also differ over AQ’s ability to carry out another attack of this size.
  • Complex strategic questions remain as a result of 9/11.  If 9/11 was merely an isolated terrorist act isolated from the world, then its consequences and means of containment are easy to manage. But if it was part of a comprehensive strategy that was the first step in igniting a conflict and setting the parameters of that conflict, then it will be more difficult to cope with its effects.
  • The theater of the conflict has become expansive, and the battle requires many and sundry tools and, sometimes, contradictory paths to achieving a single goal, which is, in its first stage, the draining of the enemy’s material resources and casting doubt on its ideological underpinnings, before surrounding, restricting, and finally eliminating him in the second and final stage.
  • Preliminary conclusions about 9/11 were wrong.  Many theories were intended to distort the historical achievement of al-Qaeda that no other state or terrorist group had achieved against the U.S., even during the Cold War.  Consequently, there were a lot of conspiracy theories.  Neocons put forward one of their own [presumably Iraqi involvement in the plot] to justify their intervention in the Middle East.
  • The repercussions of any military or terrorist act are not fully under the control of those who carry it out.  If you look at whom the unintended consequences benefit, you might wrongly conclude there was active coordination between the attackers and the chief beneficiaries.  For example, Sunnis in Iraq think al-Qaeda coordinated the attacks with Iran because Iran has benefited so much from the American response to 9/11.
  • Experts in war recognize that the victors are those who seize the initiative until their goals are realized.
  • The 9/11 attacks revealed al-Qaeda’s hidden intentions.
  • The aim of this study is to recreate the strategic landscape before 9/11 and explain what changed after the attacks.  What has happened since then?  What are the challenges facing the umma and the mujahids?  And finally, what opportunities can be exploited to implement the ultimate, fundamental plan, which is liberating the land of Islam and establishing its state?
  • This paper depends on American strategic studies that were published after 9/11 in an attempt to understand the near- and longterm effects of the attacks.  It also draws from the well of valuable observations that some leaders of the jihad expressed during the “stage of the ditch,” to use the phrase of Abu Mus`ab al-Suri.  It provides a conceptual framework for a strategic path which is in the process of growth, even if it is with great difficulty.

The “ditch” to which Abu al-Fadl and Suri allude is the Qur’anic story of the Companions of the Ditch who threw those who refused to recant their faith into a ditch and burned them alive.  Suri writes on p. 827 of his Muqawama that the counterterrorism campaign against Jihadi groups from 2001-2004 was “the ordeal of the modern ditch that swallowed up (the Jihadi movement’s) cadres.”  So when Abu al-Fadl says that he will draw on the writings of Jihadi thinkers from the “stage of the ditch,” he presumably means strategists like Suri, Qurashi, `Uyayri, and others who were active from 2001-2004.

[Note: I’ll post the complete text of Abu Fadl’s study once he’s finished writing it.]

Document (Arabic): jul-08-faloja-abu-al-fadl-announces-strategic-effects-article-and-reasons-for-writing-it

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