The spreading menace of jihadist terrorism is indicated in a typology advanced by Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (STRATFOR) and dubbed “Al Qaeda 4.0”. STRATFOR is a 10-year-old private intelligence gathering firm based in Austin, Texas.
The June 7 analysis by STRATFOR’s Fred Burton indicates that jihadists are taking root globally, even in as unlikely a setting as Canada, “which has a long history of liberal immigration and asylum policies”. Burton bases his analysis on the recent arrests of 17 alleged terrorists there. They are accused of plotting mayhem in Toronto, Ottawa and elsewhere. And now, as well, there are the “Miami Seven” arrested for plotting to bomb the Sears Tower and launch other attacks.
Burton’s depiction of Al Qaeda’s “evolution” indicates why terrorism is likely to be a long-term threat. Al Qaeda 1.0, he argues, dates to the early 1990s. A “succession of individuals” trained in camps in Afghanistan run by Osama bin Laden and others emerged to conduct attacks elsewhere, like the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
The 2.0 operational model, Burton says, has been used only once, on 9/11. An Al Qaeda “all-star team” selected, trained and dispatched by central leadership brought down the Twin Towers.
The 3.0 model involves “grassroots jihadists â€“ cells with local leadership carrying out attacks in a country with which they have a long association”, like Egypt.
And now, should the Canadian accusations be proven, there is Al Qaeda 4.0, an international network of local cells abetted by the Internet â€“ “grassroots groups that ‘think globally and act locally’, to borrow a phrase.”
“At the very least,” Burton asserts, “the (4.0) evolutionary cycle â€“ catching up ever-younger generations of jihadists â€“ is yet another solid indication that jihadism will linger even if the leadership of the Al Qaeda organization should be located and destroyed.”
All of which, sadly, indicates why long-term security planning is a highly advisable current activity.