Pulse Nightclub, aftermath of Orlando Shooting.
I first heard the term “leaderless resistance” in an Edward Snowden tweet which was immediately disputed by a claim that leaderless resistance always failed. I actually think Anonymous, OWS, 4chan and lulzsec are examples of successful leaderless resistance– not directed leaderless resistance, but emergent. Another strong example is Palestinian found-weapon attacks. I think Dr. Atran and I are talking about two distinct types of LR.
Dr.Atran’s piece on Nice– “The Durability of Chaos” again falls back on Idarat al Tawahhush for explanations…this is not entirely wrong. It is part of Nājī long game strategy to push states from “the state of vexation and exhaustion” to “the state of ripeness” with the death of a thousand cuts– bleeding the treasury and population support with endless unwinnable foreign wars and pinpoint flash terror events destabilizing the government at home. Dr. Atran’s Paris analysis proposes the same themes– “The War ISIS Wants”.
But it is important for the American citizenry to understand that there are two broadly different types of strategic jihad– open front which is carried out in muslim lands and the covert or cellular jihad described here in Setmarian:
The two types are independent– and designed to be carried out in parallel. It is a mistake to propose a linkage like US is trying to do– that increased cellular jihad (lone wolf events) is caused by IS losing territory. Hassan Hassan covers that beautifully in this article “Is the Islamic State Unstoppable”? Cellular jihad is baked into IS design which continues to adapt and evolve. Nājī–
I would like to propose a third type of strategic jihad– emergent leaderless resistance or “flash terror”. This type is self-organizing so there is no digital surveillance footprint– and we can only guess at the trigger event. It is impossible to pre-identitfy the attackers before the event. And the trigger is not “outside inspiration”– the trigger seems to come from a RL event. In San Bernardino the trigger appears to have been a workplace party. In Orlando some sort of homophobic episode. For the Tsarnevs the trigger may been just the intersection of desire and opportunity– they were planning for an attack when the Boston Marathon presented a fusion of time and place. The actors seem to have to been preparing for some eventual terror event by stockpiling weapons and materials– and then some catalyst triggers the act. Flash terror also seems to inform non-islamic events– Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora theater shootings, Colorado Springs abortion clinic, Umqua Community College, Dylan Roof, Munich MacDonalds. Palestinian knife attacks/car attacks. The common denominator is spontaneity– emergence. I would also include the two recent cop killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Interestingly both those events have multiple common traits in inspiration and execution: young black ex-military vets inspired by the Sterling and Castile murders.
These attacks are increasing even as organized jihadi-front style attacks are decreasing. Adaptive exploitation. And that isnt even the worst part. Demographic shift and increasing global digital connectivity insure that incidents of flash terror will only continue to rise. And the lone wolves or “flash terrorists” are undetectable by the Security State, whether Israel, US, Germany, Brussels or France until the event.
I do not believe jihadi front attacks are in permanent decline. Because there is a resupply tsunami of fresh recruits coming from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa until mid-century. What US is doing isn’t working…IS has a long term strategy– US simply doesn’t.
A new phenomenon of flash terror is giving bayah after the attack has begun, or leaving evidence for IS to claim the attackers as a soldier of Allah. Like Ansbach.
This is a global revolution. And it has only just just begun.