When do “Terrorist” groups become not Terrorist Groups?

Could someone please tell the Council on Foreign Relations to update their website?  

“Jamaat al-Islamiyya is a radical group that seeks to install an Islamic regime in place of the secular Egyptian government.”

First of all, it is not the “Jamaat al-Islamiyya.”  It should say “Al-Jama’a or Al-Gama’a  Al-Islamiyya.”   Second, they do not seek to overthrow the Egyptian regime as terrorism scholars endlessly_claim.  Islamic Group has not committed an act of violence since their 1997 initiative to end violence.    Then, in 2003, after a series of long jail-house discussions they dramatically distanced themselves from their previous militant ideology which they outlined in a series of books.  In response, the government let most of them out of jail and none of them have returned to terrorism.   And now they issue frequent statements praising their previous arch-enemies, Nasser and Sadat.   They have done this at least three times in the last 4 months.  Yesterday, on the 35th Anniversary of the October War, they issued a statement praising Sadat, Nasser and all those who participated in the “Great Victory.”  Its on page 5 of  Al-Dostor which hasn’t put today’s paper online yet.

So here’s my question:  When a group gives up violence, radically changes its Islamic ideology, and then starts making frequent appearances in the press praising the people it originally fought against, doesn’t it cease to be a “terrorist group?”   Why does Audrey Cronin totally ignore the Islamic Group’s experience in her 2006 paper on the Decline_and_Demise_of_Terrorist_Groups?   Might it be that the theories can’t explain this?

Does Christopher Hitchens Read Media Shack?

Two days ago I posted  that the US should buy and burn all the Opium in Afghanistan because trying to stop Afghan farmers from growing their only crop drives them straight into the insurgency.  Yesterday, Christopher Hitchens said the same thing:

This is why it is peculiar of us, if not bizarre and quasi-suicidal, to insist that its main economic lifeblood continues to be wholly controlled by our enemies…And, unsurprisingly, UNODC also reports that the vast bulk of the revenue from this astonishing harvest goes directly to the Taliban or to local warlords and mullahs. Meanwhile, in the guise of liberators NATO forces appear and tell the Afghan villagers that they intend to burn their only crop. And the American embassy is only restrained by the Afghan government from pursuing a policy of actually spraying this same crop from the air! In other words, the discredited fantasy of Richard Nixon’s so-called “War on Drugs” is the dogma on which we are prepared to gamble and lose the country that gave birth to the Taliban and hospitality to al-Qaida.


While in the short term, hard-pressed Afghan farmers should be allowed to sell their opium to the government rather than only to the many criminal elements that continue to infest it or to the Taliban. We don’t have to smoke the stuff once we have purchased it: It can be burned or thrown away or perhaps more profitably used to manufacture the painkillers of which the United States currently suffers a shortage. (As it is, we allow Turkey to cultivate opium poppy fields for precisely this purpose.) Why not give Afghanistan the contract instead? At one stroke, we help fill its coffers and empty the main war chest of our foes while altering the “hearts-and-minds” balance that has been tipping away from us.


I happen to know that this option has been discussed at quite high levels in Afghanistan itself, and I leave you to guess at the sort of political constraints that prevent it from being discussed intelligently in public in the United States. But if we ever have to have the melancholy inquest on how we “lost” a country we had once liberated, this will be one of the places where the conversation will have to start.

 I couldn’t agree more.  Hitchens is  right on the last point but I don’t see why this couldn’t be carried out covertly.  And just to be clear I had no idea that Hitchens would be writing this on October 6 when I posted the same thing on October 5th.   In fact,  I have long argued (and have a paper trail to prove it) that the drug trade everywhere could  easily be disrupted and destroyed by the US government if it wanted to disrupt the economic supply and demand chain.   Major High-Five to Friday_in-Cairo for passing this along.