Archive for the ‘GLOBAL GUERRILLAS’ Category


October 29, 2017

John Robb on October 27, 2017, published a contribution on his blog Global Guerrilla on the rise of China. Excerpts below:

The 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is over. It was a seminal event. It…

firmly consolidated political power in the hands of a single man, Xi (no successor was named).

clearly informed the world that China was now a global superpower (and the US was its only rival).

would promote a world based on ‘capitalism with Chinese characteristics’ (a capitalism in a Leninist cage) in opposition to Western democracy.

In short, China publicly announced that it is now in a ‘cold economic war’ with the US for the future of the world.

Robb pointed out that the so called One Belt, One Road is one of the most important projects to reach Chinese global dominance. Starting at an 8 trillion US dollars investment to build a road, rail and maritime infrastructure system connecting Asia with Europe and Africa. This is to achieve a transportation monopoly. It is enshrined in the communist constitution of China and there is certainly the funds available for this. Robb believes that China will be the leading economic power within 20 years.

Robb offers one possible strategic solution for the West: to delay while the West is in a retreat, a rearguard action that will buy time.

Comment: China is challenging the West on the Eurasian heartland. The United States has between 1890 and 2008 followed the geopolitical principle of preventing that one great power grows too strong in Eurasia. Starting in 2017 the United States has the opportunity to follow the classical geopolitical principle that was the policy in relation to Eurasia.

China wants to strengthen its position as a rimland power and become the dominating power first in Asia and then in Europe. The overall growth of a country represents the most likely precursors to a large-scale conflict spurred by revisionist sentiment. An example of this realist interpretation of international relations theory is the rise of Nazi Germany during the 1930s. One country today matches the profile of the instigator. During the past decade China’s GDP has increased more than six-fold and its military forces have undergone complete modernization, rendering the country an East Asian hegemon.


October 11, 2014

FoxNews on October 11, 2014, reported on the US psycho-political warfare against ISIS. Excerpts below:

While U.S. fighter jets wage a battle against the Islamic State from the air, the terror network with aims of establishing its own caliphate is waging a battle for followers — over the airwaves.

America’s point person for countering Islamic State, or ISIS, propaganda said this week that the militant group now has seven TV stations in two major cities in Iraq and Syria. This, on top of the robust social media operation ISIS already is well known for, is posing a steep challenge for western officials trying to chop off the tentacles of the group’s media ops monster.

Alberto Fernandez, coordinator of the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), explained how ISIS, also known as ISIL, is using its outreach to bolster recruitment.

“ISIL controls five TV stations in Mosul and two in Raqqah [Syria],” he said at an event earlier this week. As ISIS militants ravage towns, execute soldiers and behead journalists, Fernandez said that from the Islamic State’s perspective, still, “media is more than half the battle.”

The office Fernandez runs was established in September 2010 to “coordinate government-wide public communications activities directed at audiences abroad … against terrorist organizations,” according to the State Department.

“There is a Mount Everest of radicalization material and only a foothill of counter-propaganda,” Fernandez said.

In July 2014, ISIS launched a new TV channel called “Dabiq,” stationed in the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to Baghdad-based It also was reported that ISIS had started an Arabic and English electronic newspaper under the same name. ISIS based the name “Dabiq” on a decisive victory by the Ottoman Empire over the Mamluk Sultanate, based in Cairo, during the Ottoman-Mamluk War in the early 16th Century. The Ottoman Empire’s victory in this battle gave it control of the entire Syria region.

Given this growth, U.S. officials say ISIS has made media a major part of its campaign plan, and the United States must aggressively counter the message.

“[ISIS has] very slick social media and very slick propaganda,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on October 9 in Washington, D.C. But he warned that the danger from ISIS’ media operation is not limited to Iraq and Syria. He said he’s also concerned about U.S.-based “lone wolf acts of terror inspired by the social media of [ISIS] groups

… We have seen cases where somebody arrested, prosecuted was motivated by some literature put out by a terrorist organization.”

Fernandez, who spoke at George Washington University, lamented that “it is difficult to match” ISIS propaganda like its recent 55-minute “Flames of War” video. “It really draws on young people’s emotions,” and there are many more “ISIS fan boys” and “knights of the upload” who help spread their ideology, he said.

Fernandez’ unit has tried to battle the message with its own videos. The team produced the scathing “Welcome to the Islamic State land” and released it in August 2014 as a way to “contest the space” of jihadist propaganda.

“Run – do not walk to ISIS Land,” the video implores viewers. The video, which includes graphic images, sarcastically tells recruits they can learn “useful new skills” — like “blowing up mosques” and “crucifying and executing Muslims.”

It has generated close to 800,000 views on YouTube worldwide, and is part of the State Department’s “Think Again Turn Away” campaign.

Fernandez said the “thrill of adventurism [in joining ISIS] looks like the Call of Duty.” The personal testimony seen in well-produced ISIS propaganda films also serves to boost recruitment, he said. “The lack of personal testimony is a challenge to the West,” said Fernandez, who wants to hear more from those that have fought for ISIS but became disenchanted.

One woman did come forward and spoke with CNN recently to tell her story about meeting a Tunisian man on social media pages who convinced her to join an all-female ISIS brigade.

The “Think Again Turn Away” Facebook page lists the most engaged readers as being from Baghdad in the 25-35-year-old demographic. “Our mission is to expose the facts about terrorists and their propaganda,” the page says. While noting the English page has only 8,000 “likes,” Fernandez said there are over 70,000 on its Arabic Facebook page.

To counter the violent ideology of Islamist radicals, Fernandez says he has 15 full-time professionals messaging in Arabic, four in Urdu, two in Somali and two in English.

Fernandez summed up the strategy in 2013: “What we try to do is not to affirm the positive about ourselves but to emphasize the negative about the adversary. It is about offense and not defense. The third goal is to try to unnerve the adversary, to get in their heads.”


February 13, 2014

NewsMax on February 12, 2014, reported that the insistence by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that al-Qaida has been severely weakened and is nearing defeat is “just plain flat wrong,” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says. Excerpts below:

“[These are] overblown contentions . . . just plain flat wrong and a misunderstanding of how the world works and how terrorist organizations function,” Rumsfeld told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“It should be embarrassing . . . to have the two top leaders of our country be so flat wrong on what they said about al-Qaida.

“It seems to me it ought to be cited and noted because it goes directly to their credibility. Hoping something’s the case doesn’t make it so,” Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

Rumsfeld — who was US secretary of defense from 1975 to 1977 under President Gerald Ford, and from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush — also says the United States did not adequately protect its consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which led to a Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed four Americans.

Rumsfeld, author of the new book “Rumsfeld’s Rules,” says the ongoing efforts by the United States for a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine are unlikely to work.

“There is a theory that some people subscribe to that it is possible to take . . . two parties in this case, and grab them by the scruff of the neck, and push them together, and have them make a deal. Now, the reality is that’s utter nonsense,” Rumsfeld said.

“People have to see something as in their interest, or no matter how hard they’re pushed, they’re simply not going to agree, and if they do agree, it won’t stick, it won’t last.

“In this instance, it takes persuasion, it takes time, and it takes conviction on both sides . . . It is very clear that the Israelis know themselves, they know their country . . . They can’t afford to make a mistake, and I doubt that they will. I think their leadership is courageous, and prudent, and respectful, and understanding of history.”


July 15, 2013

Foundation for Defense of Democracies has published an article originally in The Jerusalem Post of July 11, 2013, by Foundation fellow Benjamin Weinthal on the rise of Lebanese Hezbollah in Africa. With the admission by three Lebanese men in Nigeria that they had been trained by Hezbollah and accumulated enough military hardware to wage a war, the entrenchment of the Shi’ite terrorist organization in Africa has fueled renewed interest in counter-terrorism strategies. Excerpts below:

According to Nigeria’s PM News, public prosecutor Simon Egede said the dual Lebanese-Nigerian nationals had amassed enough weapons, ranging from land mines and AK 47 rifles to anti-tank rocket launchers, “to sustain a civil war.” After the three suspected operatives ¬ Mustapha Fawaz, 49, Abdullahi Thahini, 48, and Tahal Roda, 51 ¬were arrested in May, the country’s security forces said the men had planned to attack local Israeli and American institutions.

The scramble to counter the Hezbollah threat prompted charges of terrorism.

Even more tellingly, Nigerian authorities have publicly labeled Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization – ¬ an unprecedented move.

It is worth recalling that not one African country lists Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.

The stakes are clearly high for Nigeria. The reach of Hezbollah into the continent has prompted US and African counter-terrorism authorities to sharpen their focus and impose penalties.

The Shi’ite group’s use of West Africa as a launching pad for its narcotics trade into Europe might have consequences for the EU process to clamp down on Hezbollah fundraising. EU foreign ministers are slated in late July to issue a decision on whether its military wing should be listed as a terrorist entity.

Dawit Giorgis, a visiting fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on activities by Hezbollah and Iran in Africa, told The Jerusalem Post that African governments are aware that “dealing with Iran and Hezbollah is trouble. Iran’s exports to sub-Saharan Africa peaked at $3.9 billion in 2011 ¬only to slump last year to $1.8 b.” Iran spawned Hezbollah and remains it chief financial and ideological sponsor across the globe. In short, its regime is inseparable from Hezbollah.

Giorgis added that in some parts of Africa the Islamic Republic is perceived as a security threat because of its “support and connections to terrorists and illegal drug and firearms trafficking. Those countries that continue to welcome Hezbollah or Iran are those who either have been corrupted or owe [them] their survival because of military support.”

Iran’s lame duck President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has invested time in Africa, including visits to Niger, Benin and Ghana in April. His visit to Niger raised eyebrows, largely because the country is the world¹s fourth-biggest producer of uranium, which Iran seeks in order to advance its illicit nuclear enrichment program.

However, the visit did not strike a chord with all African countries. After Nigeria confiscated Iranian arms in the port city of Lagos in 2010, Gambia pulled the plug on diplomatic relations with Iran. The ostensible reason was that it had been the destination for the weapons shipment.

Nigeria will continue to be a hub of pro-Hezbollah and pro-Iranian activity, mainly because the country is home to Sheikh Zakzaky, an advocate of the revolutionary Iranian Shi¹ite ideology who serves as a key Muslim leader in Nigeria. His office contains a photo of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini.

The open question is, will African nations follow the growing list of countries that have either banned Hezbollah or cracked down on the organization¹s financial transactions? Nigeria might very well be the litmus test for a modernized counter-terrorism posture toward the Shi’ite group.


July 6, 2013

News Max on July 5, 2013, reported that the United States needs to do a better job of supporting the countries most threatened by the aggression of China, Russia, and Iran, two foreign policy experts write in The Wall Street Journal. Excerpts below:

They are A. Wess Mitchell, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis, and Jakub Grygiel, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Countries as disparate as Poland, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia are engaged in an arms buildup, they note.

“In an arc that stretches from Eastern Europe to the Persian Gulf to East Asia, vulnerable states on the outer periphery of U.S. power are re-examining their strategic menus in the face of rising or revisionist powers, most notably China, Russia and Iran,” Mitchell and Grygiel state.

These vulnerable nations feel compelled to act as a result of U.S. inaction, they say.

“This is partly a result of recent U.S. policy, which has often seemed to downgrade alliances in favor of accommodation with large, authoritarian powers,” they say. They are also worried about U.S. defense spending cuts and the shrinking U.S. Navy, Mitchell and Grygiel write.


May 29, 2013

By Max Boot Liveright, $35, 784 pages

The Washington Times on May 27, 2013, published a review by Joshua Sinai on a new book on guerrilla warfare. In “Invisible Armies,” Max Boot attempts to write an up-to-date account of the evolution of guerrilla warfare and terrorism from ancient times to the modern era. Mr. Boot, the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and an adviser on counterinsurgency to the U.S. government, is ideally suited to produce such a comprehensive study. The book is well written, insightful and sweeping in its historical comprehensiveness, but it is not without some flaws. Excerpts below:

While one may quibble that the book’s title should include “terrorist” alongside “guerrilla,” since terrorist warfare is featured extensively in the selection of case studies, and that the author’s definition of terrorism should cover attacks by such groups against noncombatant civilians as well as armed military, the narrative does a thorough job explaining how asymmetric warfare — attacks by weaker forces against their stronger state militaries — is prosecuted. Thus, while guerrilla forces may number in the thousands, most terrorist groups have dozens to a few hundred fighters; and while guerrilla forces aim to capture, hold territory and even physically defeat their more powerful military adversaries, terrorists do not, and, in fact, “hope with a few spectacular attacks to trigger a revolution” within their societies — which is what al Qaeda had hoped would proceed from their catastrophic attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Both guerrilla warfare and terrorism, Mr. Boot writes, are important to understand because “Since World War II, insurgency and terrorism have become the dominant forms of conflict — a trend likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

Thus, to gain the ability to counter the threats posed by what Mr. Boot terms “invisible armies,” it is essential to understand the history and evolution of such warfare, a task well accommodated here.

After an historical overview the author explains how the modern era in terrorist warfare began with the 19th-century Russian anarchists, who promoted the notion of “propaganda by the deed,” which was followed by the Irish Republican Army’s predecessors in 1919 to 1921.

Mr. Boot points out that one of the most significant innovations in guerrilla warfare was developed by Mao Zedong, who understood that for “hit-and-run raids by lightly armed fighters” to defeat a more powerful military they had to be combined during the later stages of their insurgency with “regular warfare,” which they could attain by growing their military strength and popular support over time. Such strategy enabled not only the Chinese Communist insurgents to take power, but other guerrilla forces, including Hezbollah, which now constitutes an effective military army (with stockpiles of sophisticated rockets) and a “state-within-a-state” in Lebanon.

Of particular interest is Mr. Boot’s observation, “Unlike guerrilla warfare, the most ancient form of warfare, terrorism is strikingly modern.” This has been made possible by the development of four phenomena: destructive and portable weaponry, such as dynamite and pistols; the mass media, which publicizes their attacks; literacy, which enables terrorist groups to recruit educated operatives; and secular ideologies that focus on nationalistic and socioeconomic issues. Interestingly, in the current period, Mr. Boot writes, religious ideologies have replaced secular ones for many terrorist groups, such as the Palestinian Hamas and al Qaeda.

Mr. Boot concludes that while it is difficult for a conventional army to defeat a strongly motivated and well-organized guerrilla adversary, “the odds remain stacked against those who adopt guerrilla or terrorist tactics. For guerrillas to triumph, they usually require outside assistance, along with a major lack of acumen or will on the part of the government under siege.”

Writing such a sweeping and comprehensive account of the world’s major guerrilla and terrorist insurgencies from ancient times until the current period is difficult under any circumstances, but one wishes the author had provided fuller accounts of the Palestinian insurgencies against Israel and of Israel’s countermeasures. For example, there is no discussion of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Nevertheless, Mr. Boot’s “Invisible Armies” is a valuable account of some of the challenges modern militaries face in confronting terrorist and guerrilla insurgencies.

Joshua Sinai is the author of “Active Shooter: A Handbook on Prevention,” ASIS International (2013)


January 1, 2013

Washington Times on December 30, 2012, published an AP report on Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen offering to pay tens of thousands of dollars to anyone who kills the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa or an American soldier in the country. Excerpts below:

An audio produced by the group’s media arm, the al-Malahem Foundation, and posted on militant websites said it was offering 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of gold, worth $160,000, for killing the ambassador.

The group said it will pay 5 million Yemeni riyals ($23,000) to anyone who kills an American soldier inside Yemen.

It said the offer is valid for six months.

The bounties were set to “inspire and encourage our Muslim nation for jihad,” the statement said.

Washington considers al Qaeda in Yemen to be the group’s most dangerous branch.

The group overran entire towns and villages last year by taking advantage of a security lapse during nationwide protests that eventually ousted the country’s longtime ruler.

In the capital, Sanaa, security officials said two gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed two intelligence officers early Sunday as they were leaving a downtown security facility. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations, said all intelligence and security officers have been instructed to take precautionary measures outside working hours.


February 2, 2012

John Robb at Global Guerrillas on February 2, 2012, predicted that in the next couple of years, the number of advances in technology, deployments, and awareness of drones will be intense. He believes that in 5 years, they will be part of everyday life:

It will be more than one or two drones. There will be swarms of them. Hundreds, thousands and millions (the latter if the cost per unit is small enough).

Main benefits of swarming attacks would according to Robb be:

• It cuts the enemy target off from supply and communications.
• It adversely impacts the moral of the target.
• It makes a coordinated defense extremely difficult (resource allocation is intensely difficult).
• It radically increases the potential of surprise


December 1, 2011

John Robb on Global Guerrillas reported on November 30, 2011, that Israel is VERY close to full scale war with Iran:

On Monday the 28th of November, it used special operations forces (referred to below as the “Hand of God”) to blow up a portion of an Iranian Nuclear facility near Isfahan (confirmed by satellite imagery). This follows on the heels of another explosion at Tehran facility that killed an Iranian general.

Dan Meridor, the Israeli Intelligence Minister, said: “There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.”

Major-General Giora Eiland, Israel’s former director of national security, told Israel’s army radio that the Isfahan blast was no accident. “There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God”

A former Israeli intelligence official cited at least two other explosions [that we haven’t heard about] that have “successfully neutralised” Iranian bases associated with the Shahab-3, the medium-range missile that could be adapted to carry a nuclear warhead. “This is something everyone in the West wanted to see happen,” he added.

Robb’s view is that an attack on Iran will cause a lot of problems for the West. It may not necessarily be so.


March 2, 2011

A number of tyrannies are still a threat proving that not much is new in the world. One difference between classical and modern tyrannies is that the latter can acquire weapons of mass destruction. The classical tyrannies only threatened the local citizens and neighboring cities and states. Modern tyrannies are often a global threat.

Since around 1980 there has been a number of reports on the possible use of weapons of mass destruction against the West in general and the United States in particular. In early February 1983 there was a meeting of radical Islamic groups in Tehran organized by the Iranian Foreign Ministry at which the poisoning the water supplies of major cities in the West was discussed. Already in 1975 European entrepreneurs attempted to sell the nerve agent Tabun to Palestinian terrorists. Arafat’s ‘Force 17’ terrorists received training in chemical warfare. There are reports that cyanide may have been incorporated in the bomb used to attack the World Trade Center in January of 1993, when the war to destroy the United States started in earnest.

A number of tyrannies in the Middle East are a danger to civilization and to the only liberal democracy in the region, Israel. These tyrannies are the main threat in the war against the United States. The terrorist organizations would not survive without support of these tyrannies. The danger of Syria has at last, in late 2003, been fully recognized by the United States, as it has adopted the Syria Accountability Act, ten years after the war started. Syria in 1983 used cyanide gas to put down a rebellion by members of the Sunni minority in the city of Hama. By controlling terrorist training camps and headquarters in southern Lebanon Syria is a continuing threat not only to Israel. Also terrorist fighters are coming from Syria to attack coalition forces in Iraq. The tyranny in Syria has an upgraded arsenal of mass destruction weapons and long-range missiles. It is working with other tyrannies like Iran and Libya.

Libya was earlier one of the tyrannies close to the region that has actually used chemical weapons. This was in an attack on neighboring Chad in 1987. Iran supplied the agents in question in exchange for mines and Libya had a chemical weapons plant in Rabta. The Libyan tyrant Muammar Quadaffi also funds biological warfare programs. Libya has however under pressure by the United States abandoned its programs of weapons of mass destruction. There is now as chance that this will change in Libya.

The main terrorist sponsor in the Middle East is however the Iranian tyranny. It has financed the North Korean missile development program. The theocrats in Tehran have also funded the Syrian missile buildup. Iran’s offensive chemical warfare program began in 1983. Its program of biological warfare, commenced in the 1980s, is hidden within the country’s extensive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Most dangerous is the present development of nuclear weapons by Iran.

The three Middle East tyrannies mentioned here are in close contact with extremist Palestinian groups.

These tyrannies have developed their destructive weapons in cooperation with North Korea, which has nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. These could in the hands of international terrorists be a mortal threat to civilization. The tyranny in North Korea regards the United States as the main enemy. In accordance with this view North Korea may well be involved in providing terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.

The other tyranny in East Asia with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and possibly post-nuclear weapons of nanotechnology, is the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The aggressive China is a threat to Taiwan and the whole region, thus a future strategic problem of the United States. At present PRC is regarded as a partner in negotiations with North Korea but ultimately it is a competitor. (As early as in 2000 the Center for Research on Geopolitics warned of a cooperation between the Chinese tyranny and tyrannies in the Middle East in Research Paper No. 26, “The Global Challenge – A PRC-Islamic Coalition – A Few Notes”). The ongoing war on terrorism resulting in regime changes in the Middle East lessens the risk of a PRC cooperation with tyrannies in the region, but China is still a long term dangerous opponent of the United States. It should be central theme in the study of strategic warning, an art that needs to be developed and further strengthened in America, remembering Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

In the Western hemisphere Cuba is and has been a dangerous tyranny, even after the retirement of Fidel Castro. In the 1960s he allowed nuclear missiles to be stationed on the island threatening the United States. During the 1970s and 1980s the Cuban tyrant provided mercenaries for a number of communist tyrannies in Africa. Castro has also been a regular supporter of terrorism in the past.


It is important when regarding the threat of modern tyrannies to civilization to remember that Niccoló Machiavelli despised the cruelty of tyrants. In the writing on tyranny there are no loose threads, no words picked at random, or errors. His is, along with the writings of Xenophon, the supreme art of teaching on tyranny. When there is strategic thinking on tyrants and their removal in the modern era the best guides are classical authors and their interpreter Machiavelli.

In present U.S. grand strategy the question of remaining dangerous tyrants, tyrannies and regime change ought to be a priority. Foremost of concern are the Middle East tyrannies with weapons of mass destruction. The long term threat is in East Asia with the PRC with North Korea being a more imminent danger..

In ancient times tyrants were often removed through assassination. This option is in modern times no longer available to democracies. Instead the fate of Saddam Hussein is a warning to modern tyrants in for instance Iran, Syria and North Korea. If there is a future regime change in these countries the tyrants there could expect facing the same fate as Saddam Hussein in Iraq.