Sunday, December 13, 2009

Homegrown Terrorism Glass (cont).

Interesting piece about Southeast Asian counter-terrorism and implications for debates about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Al-Qaeda.
The real threat is homegrown youths who gain inspiration from Osama bin Laden but little else beyond an occasional self-financed spell at a degraded Qaeda-linked training facility.
 A little social science on the challenge of Afghanistan:
A key factor helping the Taliban is the moral outrage of the Pashtun tribes against those who deny them autonomy, including a right to bear arms to defend their tribal code, known as Pashtunwali. Its sacred tenets include protecting women’s purity (namus), the right to personal revenge (badal), the sanctity of the guest (melmastia) and sanctuary (nanawateh). Among all Pashtun tribes, inheritance, wealth, social prestige and political status accrue through the father’s line.
This social structure means that there can be no suspicion that the male pedigree (often traceable in lineages spanning centuries) is “corrupted” by doubtful paternity. Thus, revenge for sexual misbehavior (rape, adultery, abduction) warrants killing seven members of the offending group and often the “offending” woman. Yet hospitality trumps vengeance: if a group accepts a guest, all must honor him, even if prior grounds justify revenge. That’s one reason American offers of millions for betraying Osama bin Laden fail.
 I don't agree with all of the assertions, such as Pakistan should pretty much let things run their course in the regions closest to Afghanistan, not that I am a fan of Pakistan-style counter-insurgency.  Still, it is a thoughtful piece and raises important questions about where to go from here.  I am not sure how analogous Afghanistan is to Indonesia, as civil war is distinct from counter-terrorism.  But we still have much to learn.


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