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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Two Insurrections: Al-Qaeda and French African Youth

There's an interesting article today on AsiaTimes Online called "Al-Qaeda Goes Back to Base" by Syed Saleem Shahzad. The article deals with the internal debates within Al-Qaeda about organization, just who to consider the opposition and the necessity and opportunity for establishment of a physical base for the group.

The strategic discussion involves whether Al-Qaeda ought to target just "evil", or also "evil and it's allies." The main point of contention centers on whether the Pakistani military (excepting President-General Pervez Musharraf, of course, who is viewed as totally pro-Western) counts as an ally of evil or not. This may be interesting to those who remember Pakistani involvement in supporting Al-Qaeda, especially the military's intelligence service's (ISI) role in the evacuation of Al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan in 2001.

With Al-Qaeda's relatively recent retreat from Waziristan, an autonomous region of Pakistan, the search may be on for a new base, though this depends on the outcome of the internal debate. Interestingly, recent news stories highlight Al-Qaeda's presence in Somalia. Likewise, Israel National News reported today that Al-Qaeda has claimed control of a part of western Iraq. The report says Al-Qaeda hopes it "will serve as the base for an alternative state representing Moslems around the world." Some readers may remember the seizure of five towns in western Iraq by Al-Qaeda militants. If a central base is established, the organization may opt for a more open and centralized method of organization, rather than to the current decentralized strategy. Al-Qadea in Iraq announced today that it plans to launch a major counter-offensive against US forces in Western Iraq:
Your brothers in the military branch of Al-Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers are launching today 'The Conquest of Vengeance' on behalf of the Sunni community in Al-Qaim
in order "to defend the (Islamic) nation and avenge the honour and blood" of Iraqis.

Meanwhile, also in the Middle East, Aljazeera reports that the current uprising by African youth in France has got some leaders in the Gulf region worried about their own countries as well. According to the story,
Millions of expatriate workers facing maltreatment and injustice in the Middle East and the Gulf are a time bomb that could unleash riots like those rocking France...
James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, says in the article that
France and the rest of Europe are learning now that 'guest workers', in their third generation and still denied justice, are not only a shame that eats at the moral fibre of a society, they are also a time bomb waiting to explode.
Continuing, Zogby says,
In this region, as well, in many places, workers, be they Palestinians or other Arabs or South Asians, are trapped in horrible conditions, denied justice and their basic humanity.
Is there hope for a workers revolt in the Middle East?

Returning to France, the rioting seems to have continued into a thirteenth night, as angry youths, ignoring French authorities and the Imams and "big brothers", returned to the streets again, molotovs in hand and facing a 1955 curfew law originally created in the face of insurrections supporting Algerian independence. Rueters reports for the first time that I know of tonight that white French youth are joining the insurrection. If so, this would be a major development that might pave the way for the broadening of the uprising. Hopefully such a broadening would not dillute the legitimate and critical grievances of Arab and African French. Meanwhile, the French state is busy sending youth caught by cops during the insurrection to jail with the swiftest possible justice.

The kids are getting a jump on les flics by using their cell phones and text messenging. UPI reports on the importance of the tactic to the insurrection. How long will the window remain open? A World Bank official interviewed in the article points out that organizers of future World Bank meetings "really [need] to keep tabs on e-mail and messaging traffic, as well as instructions on Web sites... But at the end of the day, it's the police force that really needs to keep track."

Can the police successfully monitor these communications? Yes, says Internet security expert Solange Ghernaouti-Helie: "To do the tracking on the Internet to identify the people involved is without doubt possible. But it requires considerable surveillance and analysis resources."

AFP reports tonight that French authorities have detained two youths, one 16 and one 18, for "inciting violence by using their blogs to urge others to join the rioting that is raging in the country." One kid reportedly encouraged his comrades to "[u]nite, burn all the cops. Go to your local police station and set it on fire." The other called for "all the 'hoods that want to get moving: burn everything up Friday between 9:30 and 10:00 pm."

Indeed. Let's get moving.


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