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Why the USA needs a business strategy for al Qaeda too

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Associated Press has released a letter to an al Qaeda terrorist, disciplined for his lack of professionalism. The letter reveals that al Qaeda is a far more intricate and professional organization than most would imagine complete with corporate structure.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The letter was addressed to terrorist leader, Moktar Belmoktar at a time when he worked for al Qaeda and wasn't doing much of consequence.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb sent the letter upbraiding him of ignoring phone calls, skipping meetings, failing to file expense reports, and generally disregarding orders.

The letter accused Belmoktar of failing to carry out a single notable attack.

Belmoktar responded by going 1099 on al Qaeda, or more specifically breaking off to become an independent contractor. Within months, of going rogue from al Qaeda, Belmoktar managed to orchestrate and conduct two attacks which killed 101 people in Algeria and Niger.

The first was one of the largest hostage captures in history, with his fighters taking hostages at a BP operated gas facility in Algeria. The second was the twin bombings of a military base and a French uranium mine last week.

Despite his independent status, Belmoktar carried out the attacks in the name of al Qaeda anyway.

The attacks are serious and Belmoktar is an international criminal who must be swiftly brought to justice. However, the letter which he was sent last year reveals that al Qaeda is a well-managed operation, despite the success of the United States and other powers in reducing its power.

Like any major multi-national corporation, al Qaeda has an extensive middle-management structure with regional offices, executives, managers, accountants, and more. Many individual fulfill these roles armed with phones, computers, and the other trappings of office life.

The new understanding is key because the popular notion is that disaffected and unkempt Muslim men who beat their wives and are filled with bloodlust form al Qaeda.  The reality is much different. What's put in front of the camera for all to see is intentional and part of the al Qaeda brand. However, the reality behind the brand is much different, just as it often is for many legitimate business organizations.

Similarly, when one thinks of the military, one imagines soldiers patrolling in combat fatigues. However, supporting those soldiers is another army of managers, accountants, and specialist of various sorts who use computers and paper to organize, equip and field those troops. Yet, no one ever sees an accountant on a military recruiting poster. Al Qaeda is no different.

Understanding this is key to combating the organization. Al Qaeda is dependent on financial operations and is subject to economic pressures and other market forces. In addition to generals, al Qaeda is also well fought by armies of lawyers, accountants, and others in the legal and business world about them. Their efforts, while unsung, to undermine the terror organization's work can be every bit as effective as a drone strike or a special operations mission.

We need a business strategy to handle al Qaeda, every bit as much as a military one.

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