New at SoFIR::Research & Analysis
• Why Nicky Reilly matters
• I’m sure there’s a Information Operations strategy in here somewhere…
• AQ scuttled their own sites?
• Cyber-attack theory as al-Qaida websites close
• Convergence of the depraved
• “Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words” [22 Oct 2008]
• Home in Helmand [22 Oct 2008]
• The following entities… [22 Oct 2008]
I’m sure there’s a Information Operations strategy in here somewhere…
…and quite a bit to inspire specific actions as well.
Early links in this chain of discussion are here:
That’s for background, in case you missed it earlier, and deals largely with the issue of how people make good on their jihadi ambitions, how they go from being just another hothead to being a hothead with TATP and/or an AK.
Now the conversation seems to be turning to information, which for our purposes can be viewed as a kind of line of communication. Lines of communication are what we work against, in the broad sense of “work against” and not necessarily the narrow, kinetic, “let’s blow shit up” sense. Blowing shit up is easy. Getting the other guy to blow his own shit up, without his knowing that he’s working on our behalf – now that’s art. But I digress 🙂
Marisa posts about some newer items:
Perhaps a reason, Marisa Urgo, 22 October 2008.
Will drives home one particular point, but the discussion is still in binary terms: this or that, yes or no.
Influence of Jihadi Forums, Will McCants, 20 October 2008.
Forums are important for the usual reasons, and they are important for the reasons Will cites. And they are also important for all the things many analysts don’t usually see or consider – like the private messaging, or the importance of being involved in the operation of a forum, or the distribution of information more generally, as an entry point, a kind of “starter terrorism,” which is what I was trying to get at here:
My own recent bit about Nicky Reilly, the Big Friendly Terrorist™ is a bit off-topic, as it deals more with targeting, who to target, what to look for and where. I’ll mention it here because I think I’ve done a better job of explaining what I mean by ‘differential jihadization’, especially the core concepts of association and opportunity, both of which are susceptible to shallow definition. The theory is still very much a work in progress – identity is an issue, and I’m not sure whether it’s within motivation, or is best considered on it’s own, for example – but I think I may be onto something, so I’m pushing it out from under the porch to see how it plays with the other dogs.
Returning now to Marisa, she cites some earlier discussion from Tim and also a very interesting journal article:
“It Flows Narrow and Deep”, Marisa Urgo, 20 May 2008.
Global Information Flows, Tim Stevens, 25 April, 2008.
The journal article is the following, and if you pursue no other link here (and you’re involved in IO) READ THIS ONE:
“Tracing information flow on a global scale using Internet chain-letter data”, Liben-Nowell, D. and Kleinberg, J., 2008, PNAS.
Now, coming back around to Marisa, I like this piece:
Dismantling the Curve, Marisa Urgo, 12 October, 2008
Here’s a quote:
Jihadis may like to fancy themselves different from their kuffar enemy, but in reality they behave identical to every one else when it comes to their information habits. There’s a common misconception that online jihadi information is a vast, immeasurable, uncontrollable amount of internet data. This idea may make for poetic presentation statements (and excellent justifications for government program money), but it has little bearing in reality. Up until very recently, the vast majority of the OSINT jihadi material cycled through about ten or fifteen internet forums. An analyst monitoring those forums could have a handle on about 80% of the information flow within the jihadi online world. Since the beginning of September the jihadi powerlaw curve that had essentially existed since 2004 has been systematically dismantled. By what or whom I don’t know. I’ve worked in a wide range of subject areas since receiving my Master’s degree in the mid-90s, and I’ve been using and managing information years prior to that. I’ve seen fadish subjects come and go in popularity, shrinking the amount of available new information, but I’ve never seen a subject’s power law curve simply disappear.
Reminds me of a time when I was riding in the back of a 4×4 going up a narrow trail in a ravine near the border between Israel and the Sinai as sunset was fast approaching. The Englishman on board, an older gentleman from a military background, looked about and said:
“My, what a splendid place for an ambush.”
The development of information superhighways confronts us with a new phenomenon: disorientation. A fundamental disorientation which completes and perfects the social and financial deregulation whose baleful consequences we already know. Perceived reality is being split into the real and the virtual, and we are getting a kind of stereo-reality, in which existence loses its reference points. To be is to be in situ, here and now, hic et nunc. But cyberspace and instantaneous, globalized information are throwing all that into total confusion. What is now underway is a disturbance of the perception of the real: a trauma. And we need to concentrate on this. Because no technology has ever been developed that has not had to struggle against its own specific negativity. The specific negativity of information superhighways is precisely this disorientation of alterity, of our relation to the other and to the world. It is quite clear that this disorientation, this ‘de-situation’, will bring about a profound disturbance with consequences for society and, in turn, for democracy.
Disorientation, while it may be a problem if we suffer from it, is also a good thing to cause in the minds of our adversaries – who happily enough find themselves rather deeply embedded in cyberspace. [back to contents]
AQ scuttled their own sites?
Cyber-attack theory as al-Qaida websites close
The label of “vigilante” that people have put on me for years is both demonstrably false, and arguably libelous. But at least in this case I get the last word.
Convergence of the depraved
One could make too much of this, and wind up grasping at straws, but such convergences as this have been observed over the past seven years, and they will continue to come up from time to time.
As just one example, the founder of the original Global Islamic Media Centre – which was later superseded by the Global Islamic Media Front (operated by a team of individuals with little or no connection to the founder) – was last reported awaiting trial in Canada on charges of possession of child porn. How Abu explained this to his daughter Banan I don’t know…
Through glimpses of these characters, a pattern can be seen: the same kind of obsessive, sometimes paranoid, individual who becomes skilled in locating the rotten fruit of the internet, from bombmaking instructions to child pornography.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Haganah poster from the 1940s.
|Country||Yishuv, British Mandate of Palestine
Unified armed forces (post-independence)
|Role||Defense of Jewish settlements (pre-independence)|
|Engagements||Palestinian Arab revolt
World War II
Palestine Civil War
1948 Arab-Israeli War (for two weeks).
|Disbanded||May 28, 1948|
Haganah (Hebrew: “The Defense”, ההגנה) was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.
The predecessor of Haganah was Hashomer (השומר, The Guild of Watchman) established in 1909, itself a successor of Bar-Giora, founded in 1907. It was a small group of Jewish immigrants who guarded settlements for an annual fee. At no time did the group have more than 100 members.
After the 1920 Arab riots and 1921 Jaffa riots, the Jewish leadership in Palestine believed that the British (whom the League of Nations had given a mandate over Palestine in 1920) had no desire to confront local Arab gangs over their attacks on Palestinian Jews. Realizing that they could not rely on the British administration for protection from these gangs, the Jewish leadership created the Haganah to protect their farms and Kibbutzim. In addition to guarding Jewish communities, the role of the Haganah was to warn the residents of and repel attacks by Palestinian Arabs. In the period between 1920–1929, the Haganah lacked a strong central authority or coordination. Haganah “units” were very localized and poorly armed: they consisted mainly of Jewish farmers who took turns guarding their farms or their kibbutzim. Following the Arab massacres of 1929, the Haganah’s role changed dramatically. It became a much larger organization encompassing nearly all the youth and adults in the Jewish settlements, as well as thousands of members from the cities. It also acquired foreign arms and began to develop workshops to create hand grenades and simple military equipment, transforming from an untrained militia to a capable underground army.
In 1936 the Haganah fielded 10,000 mobilized men along with 40,000 reservists. During the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, it participated actively to protect British interests and to quell Arab rebellion using the FOSH, and then HISH units. Although the British administration did not officially recognize the Haganah, the British security forces cooperated with it by forming the Jewish Settlement Police, Jewish Auxiliary Forces and Special Night Squads, which were trained and led by Colonel Orde Wingate. The battle experience gained during this time was to become very useful in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Many Haganah fighters objected to the official policy of havlagah (restraint) that Jewish political leaders (who had become increasingly controlling of the Haganah) had imposed on the militia. Fighters had been instructed to only defend communities and not initiate counter attacks against Arab gangs or their communities. This policy appeared defeatist to many who believed that the best defense is a good offense and, in 1931, the most militant elements of the Haganah splintered off and formed the Irgun Tsva’i-Leumi (National Military Organization), better known as “Irgun” (or by its Hebrew acronym, pronounced “Etsel”). In 1940, the Irgun also split over the issue of whether or not to attack the British during World War II and their off-shoot became known as the “Lehi” (Hebrew acronym of Lochamei Herut Yisrael, standing for Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, widely known as the “Stern Gang” after its leader, Abraham Stern).
By 1939, the British had severely restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine and were importing Arab labor from other parts of the Middle East. In response, the Haganah built up the Palmach as the Haganah’s elite strike force and organized illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine. (The Palmach had actually been formed with the British as a response to the threat of German invasion by Rommel’s forces. It went underground after it felt betrayed by the British at the end of 1942 following Rommel’s defeat) Approximately 100,000 Jews were brought to Palestine in over one hundred ships during the final decade of the Ha’apala. The Haganah also organized demonstrations against British immigration quotas.
In 1944, after the assassination of Lord Moyne, (the British Minister of State for the Middle East), by members of the Lehi, the Haganah worked with the British to kidnap, interrogate, and in some cases, deport Irgun members. This action was called The Saison, or hunting season, and was directed against the Irgun and not the Lehi possibly due to the perceived political threat the Irgun presented to David Ben Gurion‘s position of leadership. Future Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek was later revealed to be the official most responsible, under the code name Scorpion, for turning Irgun activists over to the British authorities. Many Jewish youth, who had joined the Haganah in order to defend the Jewish people, were greatly demoralized by operations against their own people. The Irgun, paralyzed by the Saison, were ordered by their commander, Menachem Begin, not to retaliate in an effort to avoid a full blown civil war. Although many Irgunists objected to these orders, they obeyed Begin and refrained from fighting back. The Saison eventually ended due to perceived British betrayal becoming more obvious to the public and Haganah youth becoming increasingly vocal in their opposition to the policy.
The Saison officially ended when the Haganah, Irgun and the Lehi formed the Hebrew Resistance Movement. Within this new framework, the three groups had different functions, which served to drive the British out of Palestine and create a Jewish state. As Menachem Begin stated in a 1944 meeting: “In fact, there is a division of roles; one organization advocates individual terrorism (Lehi), the other conducts sporadic military operations (Irgun) and there is a third organization which prepares itself to throw its final weight in the decisive war.” This united effort lasted for a total of nine months until the Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel‘s south wing. Although the Haganah had sanctioned the operation and the Irgun phoned in two warnings to the British, the hotel was not evacuated and 91 people were killed in the explosion. Shocked by the death toll and worried about the negative image this would generate, the Haganah quickly distanced itself from both the Irgun and the Lehi.
World War II participation
Despite the 1939 White Paper which deeply angered the Zionist leadership in Palestine, Ben-Gurion, then chairman of the Jewish Agency, set the policy for the Zionist relationship with the British: We shall fight the war against Hitler as if there were no White Paper, and we shall fight the White Paper as if there were no war. The Irgun, however took a more extreme stance starting in 1944 and began bombing British installations.
In the first years of World War II, the British authorities asked Haganah for cooperation again, due to the fear for an Axis breakthrough in North Africa. After Rommel was defeated at El Alamein in 1942, the British stepped back from their all-out support for Haganah. In 1943, after a long series of requests and negotiations, the British Army announced the creation of the Jewish Brigade Group. While Palestinian Jews had been permitted to enlist in the British army since 1940, this was the first time an exclusively Jewish military unit served in the war under a Jewish flag. The Jewish Brigade Group consisted of 5,000 soldiers and was deployed in Italy in September 1944. The brigade was disbanded in 1946.
All in all, more than 30,000 Palestinian Jews served in the British army during the war.
On May 19, 1941 the Haganah created the Palmach (an acronym for Plugot Mahatz—strike companies), an elite military-like section which focused on providing training to youngsters. It was never large — by 1947 it amounted to merely five battalions (about 2,000 men) — but its members had received not only physical and basic military training, but also acquired leadership skills that, in retrospect, would allow them to take up command positions in Israel’s future army.
After the war
After the war, the Haganah carried out anti-British operations in Palestine, such as the liberation of interned immigrants from the Atlit camp, the bombing of the country’s railroad network, sabotage raids on radar installations and bases of the British Palestine police. It also continued to organize illegal immigration.
On May 28, 1948, less than two weeks after the creation of the state of Israel on May 15, the provisional government created the Israeli Defense Forces which would succeed the Haganah. It also outlawed maintenance of any other armed force.
- Bregman, Ahron. Israel’s Wars: A History Since 1947. London: Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-28716-2.
- Niv, David. The Irgun Tsva’i Leumi. Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization (Department for Education and Culture), 1980.
- “Text of the British White Paper Linking Jewish Agency to Zionist Terrorism in Palestine,” The New York Times, July 25, 1946, p. 8.
- Zadka, Dr. Saul. Blood in Zion, How the Jewish Guerrillas drove the British out of Palestine. London: Brassey’s, 1995. ISBN 1-85753-136-1.
- Jim G. Tobias, Peter Zinke. Nakam – Jüdische Rache an NS-Tätern. Konkret Literatur Verlag, Hamburg 2000. 173 Seiten, ISBN 3-89458-194-8 (German, about 1944-1947)
- Bergman, Ronen. Kollek was British informer. Ynet news. March 29, 2007. 
- The Haganah, from the Jewish Virtual Library
- Lexicon of Zionism: Haganah (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- The Haganah: History of the Israeli Underground Defense force, by the ZIIC
- What is the history of the Jewish Armed Forces in Mandate Palestine?, by Me’ir Pa’il (Galili Center for Haganah Studies)
- Internet Haganah
- Exodus1947.com PBS Documentary Film focusing on the secret American involvement in the Exodus voyage, narrated by Morley Safer