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26 August 2015


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Johnny Reims

PB. Got it. Thanks. I am totally kosher with idea of a new factor, e.g. domestic terrorism. Trying to determine if US FP still adds or diminishes to the overall risk and whether or not it should be considered in addition to new factor that leads to the writing on the wall. As an example, will bombing ISIS or deploying US troops to Syria effect overall risk to US civilians and, if so, how much. Should US seal borders for national security reasons, in addition to acknowledging domestic threat that already resides within and so on. Basically, I have viewed the risks of new factor as overlaying the continuing risks of the old, meaning the old should not be ignored but incorporated into overall new assessment.

Patrick Bahzad

Sure any new major intervention in the ME is likely to result not only in blowback against the U.S. in the ME, with rival jihadi factions possibly uniting their efforts to fight the Americans,while they are currently fighting each other, but also an increased risk domestically of course !
However, I don't think the current US - Israel relation is a major driving force of attempted or successful attacks on the Homeland.
What you're referring to under the notion of blowback, is the blowback from a disastrous foreign adventure in Iraq. OIF has thrown the jihadis a lifeline that they could not have dreamt off. And now they have Syria which is even worse in terms of its attractiveness for westerners.
But in a certain way, it might be better that the real radicals, who've been on the path of jihadism, go and die in the ME, rather than in a shootout with law enforcement on your streets. We may need to change our approach regarding who we should let go and who should be barred from joining the war in Syria.
In short, there is obviously a link between the foreign and international jihadi networks and the domestic threat, but the domestic threat would now still be present and probably increasing even if you take away all the possible excuses and justifications resulting from our foreign policy.
This is not a political conflict it is an ideological one and Ideological wars cannot be solved through political settlements or concessions.

Babak Makkinejad

NO, no, no.

UK is a country of the English, for the English, by the English.

Inside UK they are very aware of who is from Wales or Scotland or elsewhere.

The highest compliment that one could receive in England or utter is "He is a fine/great Englishman."

I think that has been going on for centuries - since after 1066.


One quibble for the record. You write: "the 'Charlie Hebdo' massacre, did it have anything to do with invasion or occupation"

I believe that one of the Kourachi brothers was quoted as saying explicitly that he was retaliating for the American killing of Muslims in the Middle east and Afghanistan. That certainly was the case for the three who set off the London subway bombs in 2005. As to the Boston bombers, I recall similar reported statements.

We can look upon American actions as the sufficient factor/proximate cause for the specific act in the context of necessary condition you describe.

Babak Makkinejad

Two things are needed:

Hudna in Palestine and Hudna with the Shia Crescent.

Once a situation of near-war is removed; then other policies are going to become feasible.

In my opinion.



You have really outdone yourself with this piece. I have one question for you. Have you or others in this line of work thought about behavioral or social patterns that do not run foul of any laws or social norms and yet serve as "gateway drugs"? On their own they would create overwhelming number of false positives but in conjunction with other factors they may create a useful signal for problematic individuals.

One pattern that i have observed is what i call "bubble kids". These are children of parents who are terrified that their children will have extra-marital sex, use drugs and indulge in other hedonistic pursuits. The way these parents try to "protect" their children is by sowing seeds of unhappiness about the host society. This is quite an act of hypocrisy as these parents know exactly the hell hole reality of their country of origin, but yet they would portray it as if it is a traditional pious heaven and they are merely stuck in west for material reasons. There are all sorts of simplistic and extremely effective memes that are used for such brainwashing at dinner table (i'll skip those to keep it short here)

Sorry for this rather long post but just something i have thought about and was wondering if these considerations are being turned into something of analytical value by law enforcement.

Patrick Bahzad


The answer to your question is 'yes we have' but the issue is about how to implement such radicalization markers without falling into the trap of the false positives you mention.
Takes qualified intelligence professionals with a reasonably sound knowledge of Islam to be able to connect the dots and not ring alarm bells at the slightest sign of "abnormal" behavior.
You don't want to replicate the typical TSA mistakes, would really be bad for business !

different clue

Johnny Reims,

That could well be. But by now the jihadistas may well crank up any grievance they like to sanctify recreational violence against Americans abroad and here. For example, failure to have removed Assad and presented Syria to the jihadists fast enough to suit their taste. For example, failing to support Pakistan's armed groups against Kashmir and India enough to get Kashmir all the way conquered from India and turned into a Jihadi State. Or any other grievance that seems handy. It's bigger than Greater Israel now. If we are going to somehow drive Israel to back within the Lines of 67 and set Gaza/West Bank/ East Jerusalem/ Golan Heights free, we should do it because it is the right thing to do. We should not do it in hopes of getting thanks and recognition, because we won't get any. Not from the jihadists, certainly.

different clue

William R. Cumming,

I am not Johnny Reims, but I will try also offering a speculative answer.
I believe that many of the very nastiest movement-outlaw settlers and price taggers grew up in America. But I think the Likud leadership all grew up in Israel of mainly Yiddish descent. Maybe a few of the very oldest are themselves of Eastern Euro-Yiddish descent. A very few exceptions like Uri Avneri may be of other-than-Yiddish descent.

I don't know how much of the recent ex-Soviet-space immigrants and their children by now support Likud as against going even further right and supporting Bennett or Lieberman. I believe the vast majority of the Arab Jews in Israel support Likud. If I am wrong about that I certainly stand correctible. If I am right about that, then one wonders what in their own past has predisposed them to support Likud over Labor or what few Centrists exist.

Patrick Bahzad


I don't recall any such statement myself. What the kouachi brothers said after the killing was that they wanted to avenge the Prophet and were acting on orders of AQAP.
It was acknowledged afterwards by the organisaton that it had ordered the two brothers to carry out the punitive operation as retaliation for cartoons allegedly insulting the Prophet.
The killing of Muslims by the U.S. might have been mentioned by the younger brother to explain his involvement in a network sending in fighters into Iraq, but that was in 2004. Nothing to do with the Charlie hebdo attack.
You're right about London and same could be said of Madrid bombings. But as I explained in reply to Jonny Reims, that was typical of the mid-2000s. It may still be valid for the Boston bomber, but it's basically an differed blowback effect of the disastrous Iraq adventure. It doesn't feed into the current narrative of jihadi war propaganda anymore.
In the current context, it would probably be wrong to assume jihadi terrorism can be explained as a mirror reaction to US FP.


I was "reminded" numerous times in London about the "proper" history and culture all around me which the America is devoid of.

I think even Americans of Anglo-Saxon heritage will not impress English.

Jack Nix

Thank you for your insights, Mr. Bahzad. I was surprised by the number of non-Mideasterners being tracked by intelligence services.

Have any been involved in terror attacks on European soil? The only attacks I am aware of were committed by Muslims from Mideastern countries.

Also, do you think the problems in Ulster were different in that Catholics had been present in N. Ireland before Protestant settlers moved there. While there were significant differences between the groups, there were significant similarities.

Margaret Steinfels

1. Apropos of the question of whom or not-whom could become a terrorist in the U.S.: almost anyone (okay) anyone in the U.S. could easily get the guns and ammunition they would need for a slaughter of the sort intended in France. Everyday (even today) there are stories of police and bystanders falling before the crazy, or the suicidal, or ??the terrorist. So how will we know when we have had a terrorist attack. Will they have to tell us?

And then, even so, I thought the French and the EU had rather strict gun control laws. Apparently not that hard to get what you need to shoot up a train. Yes? No?

Patrick Bahzad


Yes, there are a number of non mid-easterners involved in attempted/foiled and successful attacks. The list is quite long. Just for reference, amedy coulybaly, the killer from the kosher supermarket in the Paris shootings, was a french born national with a Malian background. One of his accomplices is a French, Black, Christian born, ex-bank robber from the French West Indies.

Other famous cases in Europe: Christophe Caze, Muriel Degauque (female suicide bomber in Iraq), Jeremie-Louis Sidney, Germaine Lindsay, Richard Reid, Jason Walters.

Cases in the US: Carlos Leon Bledsoe, Steven Vikash Chand (Canada), Zachary Adam Chesser, David headley, Christopher Paul.

The list goes on and on, and then you have westerners who joined ranks with ISIS or AQ in the ME !

Babak Makkinejad

But, by the same token, people in US could defend themselves more readily if more people carry weapons.

I am not recommending it but it is a possible tactic against any would be Jihadist.

Babak Makkinejad

Hindu Indians in US often complain about America - among themselves, that is.

And they are very protective of their "Hindu Indian-ness" - hanging on to any and all traits that they learnt when acculturated in India.

But they do not become Jihadists.


Babak Makkinejad

They are paying back, apparently, for all the humiliations of centuries suffered by their ancestors by being obdurate and rigid - I should think.

different clue

Patrick Bahzad,

If it matters, David Headley was a Pakistani who changed his name to David Headley. ( When I heard that on only one out of many news reports, I supposed he did it to evade "linguistic name profiling".


Hi PB,
Lots to think about. Do you have any thoughts on your model's interactions with economics? Terrorism is generally a romantic middle class pursuit. These past few days are reminding us of the second wave of the Great Recession. How would the potential economic difficulties affect recruiting pitches? Or are the disaffected already underemployed that the economy is irrelevant?

And the recession is leading to renewed nationalism, the other romantic pursuit. Would that simply lead to reactive militias, or constrain the Islamic proselytizing pitches?


The civilization may be the same but the hate is strong.


Patrick Bahzad

not exactly from the ME, no. he was born in the US to an American mother and a Pakistani father. To me, that is not a ME background, but you could argue he was half "Asian".
Another thing in his profile that doesn't fit the poor disgruntled immigrant kid bying into a radical ideology as a way to get back at the system, is that his father was a Pakistani diplomat and his brother was even member of the Pakistani government.
But you're right he changed his name from Daood Sayed Gilani to David Headley that is true.

Patrick Bahzad


That is a very good question, even though I wouldn't say I have modelized anything. Might be an idea, but with patterns and profiles evolving pretty quickly, any relevant model would have to be real flexible and subtle to take those developments into account.

I'm not sure what you mean by "second wave of great recession" ?

That being said, economic factors - like others - have an influence on the "flow" of newly radicalized young people, but they don't affect the "stock" very much, meaning: once you're part part of the "club", you remain a member, whether the economy goes up or down.

This is why there is no real need to breakdown economic interactions with radicalism into short/medium and long term, as any medium or long term economic recovery won't affect the damage already done. The only thing that would change, is that you might decrease the "flow", but still keep the "stock". In other words, you end up with a generational problem, very much like the IRA and ETA were (for different reasons altogether), with a downward generational knock-on effect.

Simply put, if the economy is bad and a population group is particularly affected by these hardships, especially a group with an immigration background, then it's going to be more difficult to offer these people real prospects.

The consequences of such social and economic exclusion might vary, but obviously, this is gonna be fertile terrain for any conquering and revolutionary ideology coming up with easy enough explanations.

However, not being a great Marxist myself, I don't think the interpretation of political developments, such as the emergence of radical Islam in the West, can be explained first and foremost by economic factors.

Finally, regarding terrorism as the pursuit of a romantic middle-class, that was true only for the left-wing inspired groups of the 1970s.

Bryn P

"UK is a country of the English, for the English, by the English."

It no longer seems so to me. Willingly or unwillingly we are being changed into a country that is no longer wholly British. Only in the more remote country areas will you find the societies of old.

Generally speaking I feel that many of the immigrants of recent years come from a background that is regrettably too dissimilar from our own and often from areas where respect for the law is almost non-existent. Not only does this make us Brits far more wary of them, but also it decreases the odds on them easily assimilating with us - unlike those who came before. Undoubtedly colour and religion is a factor but cultural differences and attitudes are a very significant factor too. Having said that, there are areas of the country that I would feel uncomfortable visiting and that includes many native "white" areas too.

In the final analysis most of us judge people as individuals and choose our friends accordingly. Even so, my few Muslim, Indian and Asian friends would be far less willing to allow their daughters to marry my sons than I would the opposite. Racial snobbery works two ways!

Bryn P

I suspect that Britain is subject to far more surveillance than anywhere else fullstop. Also the old colonial attitudes ARE changing, even if not fast enough.

My original query was whether it was also the case in the US that most of the mosques being buit over there were also Saudi-financed? My second question was asking, if not directly, was whether agreeing to allow the Saudis to do so was in our best interests in view of their adherence to a more extremist form of Islam?

William R. Cumming


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