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13 January 2015


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The strategy behind this attack appears to be the work of Al-Qaida Strategist Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri.


Patrick Bahzad

Abu Musab al-Suri's strategy of "nizam, la tanzim" (structure, not organization) could be seen as a blue print for this type of operation, but this could be said of other attacks as well that aren't the work of AQ. Even Gen. Wesley Clarke's assessment of the tactics used for 9/11: "low technology, high concept" are a variation of the same idea.
Thus I don't think there's too much to be read into al-Suri's strategy in relation to the Paris terror attacks.


It strikes me that the inter-jihadi squabbles lose their importance once outside the middle east or 'areas of jihadi dominance'
It could be that the western born Jihadis find it just as complex & difficult as us to understand the nuanced theological/allegiance differences between the various jihadi groups. Thus pledging to any jihadi group is pledging to the movement as a whole.

It could be that far from their base of support the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend, doctrine kicks in.
What does seem clear is their desire to go out in a blaze of glory, to gain post-mortem recognition from their jihadi-movement peers and whatever rewards? they expect to reap in an afterlife?.

The Kaouchi brothers attack was so poorly planned that it succeeded by element of surprise and audacity, the brothers probably being the most surprised by their success than anyone, hence the chaotic manhunt and last stand, they had no plan and improvised to the end which makes those pursuing them left in the dark since logic can't be applied in the chase. The lack of planning meant there was no plan to be discovered in advance by security forces.

The Coulibaly attack was piggybacking on the Kaochi success. He chose spontaneously to participate after the security forces started looking for all known associates of the brothers, him included. His attack was even less planned than the brothers. He randomly shot cops who he probably perceived as a threat then attacked a soft jewish target without any preparation. He had no idea of the layout, egresses or an exit plan except for the 'blaze of glory' scenario. Was this a last stand to buy time for the wife to escape?

I highly doubt any coordination between the parties or their jihadi 'mentors' and affiliates The perpetrators allegiance was to the jihadi movement and their own perceived self-worth through the lens of indoctrination they received by choice.

The jihadi movement intra-fighting reminds me of a remark by Lenny Bruce (I think) on the Irish troubles: 'In the absence of jews and blacks the irish will improvise'


There is something to what you write. The attacks struck me as chaotic also. Yes, the had an RPG, they had learned some shooting.

Clarke on tv said that the shot clustering that could be seen on one car in which the brothers murdered a cop indicated training.

Yes, it does. That said, I was a consript and when I made my Schützenschnur, I shot like that with the machine gun. I was not highly trained, I was a signaller.

When one compares these attacks with the 2004 Madrid bombing and the 2005 tube bombings the comparably lower lethality is striking. Good for the French.

William R. Cumming

Anyone notice MSM now limiting use of word "terrorist" until they find a link to ISLSAM? Is this propaganda? Supported by US government?

No longer my "terrorist" your "freedom fighter"?

Patrick Bahzad

You're raising several points to which there can be several, different answers, that's what the investigation is going to be about ... as well as analysing possible blunders and lapses in intelligence. My take on it:
1. allegiance to any group that's part of the movement is up for individuals to decide, but could also be seen as having priviledged links to members of said group.
2. poorly planned attack on Charlie Hebdo, maybe, but this could also be considered a tactic that has been promoted by the group they claim affiliation too.
3. coordination between individuals involved makes absolutely no doubt, what needs to be explored is how much coordination was there with their handlers in AQ and ISIS (if they had any) and if there was any form of coordination at a central level between these two organisations (much less likely indeed).
But more about those points in part 2 of this piece !


"In order that he might rob a neighbour whom he had promised to defend, black men fought on the coast of Coromandel and red men scalped each other by the great lakes of North America."

Rightly or wrongly, I take Macauley's comment on Frederick the Great as a useful rule for understanding the difference between strategy and tactics, understanding that no analogy is perfect.

What I don't get here is what al-qaeda 'might' do based on the operation carried out by its followers. I see tactics, but can't grasp any of the potential strategies (recruitment, spreading terror) as making best use of what must be limited resources, i.e. reasonably well-trained people like the Kuoachi brothers.


" 2. poorly planned attack on Charlie Hebdo, maybe, but this could also be considered a tactic that has been promoted by the group they claim affiliation too."

You mean this? From a security point of view - when you don't plan at all, but simply store some weapons and then improvise, there is no planning that can be detected?


Do you mean that the MSM has given up on being "objective"? If so, was there ever really any attempt, made by MSM, to be informative?!


I think the backlash against the 3rd- & 4th generation Harkis in France will be great and as a response, borderline individuals will cross the line as an act of defiance & vengeance without really caring about consequences for the self-imagined pseudo-"community".
That is a viral strategy and a goal by itself to grow the movement and respond at the same time.


Or no longer my "freedom of speech", your "hate speech": Dieudonné interrogated by French police for his joke/hate speech (
http://www.demorgen.be/buitenland/franse-komiek-dieudonne-opgepakt-voor-verheerlijking-terrorisme-a2181516 )


C L, "What does seem clear is their desire to go out in a blaze of glory" reminds me of the virgins waiting in heaven.

What does not quite fit into that scenario, which not exactly the way the myth tells us, surely was present in the 911 case.

Notice that the presence of Bengalem, the war veteran, in Patrick's account does not quite fit into any variation of the theme.

That's why as Patrick writes a careful look into possible connections to the larger network is very important.

Simply imagine a future case in which the escape routes are planned very, very carefully relying on established networks. Or for that matter figures that have not appeared in any way on any radar so far.


Big thanks to Patrick for his contribution here.


I wondered about that, while reflecting Adam Silverman's comments and the comments on others in the comment section of his own recent article here.

My admittedly not seriously checked impression is that German TV news use neutral terms, for even the recent events in Afghanistan.


Amir, it no doubt gets difficult once the inquisitional approach kicks in. I am no Dieudonné fan. But in his case taught me it may well be more dangerous than helpful to create intellectual martyrs.

Patrick Bahzad

That would be "one" way of looking at it, from a pragmatic perspective. I intend on getting into all these questions and considerations in a follow-up piece, but an analysis of Sherif Kouachi's computer (which had been seized during another terrorism related investigation in 2010) revealed that he had already downloaded djihadi manuals on how to conduct what they call "Sacrificial Operations" ('suicide missions' in our understanding, with 0% chance of getting out alive, but not to be mixed up with suicide bombings). The idea is to have prepared for entry into target, but not having any exit strategy other than improvisation. This in turn can be linked to the point you're making: less planning = less risk of detection


if I may slightly wander off-topic.

Have you ever reflected on the way heaven was 'sold`' to e.g. the Christians over the centuries? My mother after reading Dante's Divine Comedy was left with the impression that heaven seemed much less interesting than hell.

Personally I immediately put it into a larger box, I mentally object to. This box also contained items like sand nigger.

Here is a link:

I somehow would put: "they love to go out in a blaze" also into this box.

Fact is, in this context that a young men with a criminal background may well feel he ultimately does not have much to loose.

Babak Makkinejad

I heard of an analogous case under the Dictatorial reign of the Shah:

A man overheard by a SAVAK informer was arrested and was tortured in order to discover where he had hidden then the machine guns.

The poor guy had been overheard using the popular Persian idiom: "so and so talks like a machine gun".

The SAVAK torturers eventually figured that out, the Colonel in charge of the interrogation hit the fellow with the butt of his side arm and broke his jaw; screaming: "son of a whore, why were you mistaken!"

I suppose the Shah of Iran, wherever he may be, is taking comfort in Abu Ghraib, Water-Boarding, and now this case that you have posted.

Truly deplorable...

Mark Gaughan

What motivates young men in France to join the jihad and commit acts of terror? Here's an article, that I found interesting, on a possible reason: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_message_from_the_dispossessed_20150111



Having read more church fathers and sermons than I'd have liked, I can say that Christians were rarely sold on Heaven in any detail. They were often sold on avoiding Hell, however. Heaven in a Christian context is usually an abstract concept, a state of being rather than a place. Islamic heaven is extremely different in that it's a place to enjoy many concrete things you've been denied (or denied yourself) on earth.


Patrick Bahzad,
really informative post btw, thanks!

William R. Cumming

MSM not just not objective but largely lazy, fat and stupid. But often blonde!

 Ishmael Zechariah

Patrick Bahzad:
Re: “Having fled France in 2012 after he was released from jail, now with a strong ideological foundation, after the years spent with Beghal, Kouachi, Coulybaly and co., he went to Syria and joined ISIS, rising to prominence in the terrorist organisation through his accomplishments as fighter, executioner and henchman ...”
1-In 2013 and 2014 the current Turkish regime was sending material to the “rebels” in Syria. This was an open secret. The rat line was run by Turkish Intelligence Assets. Gendarme officers who stopped and tried to search the lorries carrying such were cashiered and prosecuted.

2-In March 2014, the “now-prime-minister” Davutoglu was outed while planning a false-flag operation to have Turkey enter in to a war with Syria, in support of the “rebels”.
3-Last week the said Davutoglu went to France to offer condolences and show solidarity against “terrorism”.

Interesting factoids. Is there a narrative somewhere?

Ishmael Zechariah

William R. Cumming

Thanks L.! Satire can be effective when backed by intelligent analysis otherwise when just dismissive is childish, ineffective in promoting change and deeper thought IMO!

An American Herb Block used his political cartoons to advance analysis and be thought provoking. Although deceased for many years Herb's cartoon still carry a solid punch on American leadership and politics. IMO of course.

William R. Cumming

My view is the attacks outside MENA {middle East/N. Africa are a sideshow and its all about Islamic politics and who has power.

Could be wrong of course!

William R. Cumming


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