As Caliphate Crumbles, Islamic State Turns to Old-Fashioned Crime

As Caliphate Crumbles, Islamic State Turns to Old-Fashioned Crime:

The skills that criminals possess are useful to terrorists as well. Access to weapons, propensity to violence, fund raising, and the ability to avoid police detection.

To be fair, most terrorists still only have a two year operational lifespan.

Professional terrorists, and criminals, are extremely cognisant of the need for successful escape. It has been said that a terrorist plans an escape, and then plans how to get the target. Despite the care and attention to detail that professionals take when preparing their operations, criminals still expect to serve jail time and terrorists figure on a two year operational life. After that they’ll be dead, in jail, or on the run.

The move by jihadis to skip the evasion and just die at the scene is only possible because the promotion of their attack will be handled entirely by the media and Internet. There’s no requirement for a mimeographed claim of responsibility mailed to a number of media outlets in the hopes that someone will amplify the direct action. Instead the attacker can claim a small number of victims and the media will fall all over themselves to amplify the attack and promote the terrorist group.

This is fortunate for the terrorists because they don’t have professionals to work with, instead they have jihobbiests and level zero skilled militants. These fumbling errorists are able to weaponise civilian equipment, such as vehicles and cutlery. Civilian equipment, even weaponised, used by untrained enthusiastic but clueless errorists is unlikely to be particularly lethal. An example of this is the 40yr+ Millwall hooligan who singlehandedly fought for three terrorists with kitchen knives, he lived.

The modern terrorism relies on suicidal untrained attackers who don’t need to achieve high lethality to promote their terrorist ideology–social media and the mainstream media are fully capable of doing that for them. Software has eaten the world and disrupted terrorism.

Attackers can be recruited and directed entirely online, while the PR to promote them is handled externally by the media and cheaply using internet platforms. The attackers are containerised, isolated from other terrorists (a sort of leaderless resistance), and the terrorist organisations are virtualised, where much of the overhead of organisation is no longer necessary. There is essentially no need for huge portions of terrorist organisation infrastructure – no military weapons means no logistics and no fund raising; jihobbiest level zero errorists have no training; the media and internet platforms mean the only critical part of a terrorist organisation is the PR side, to ensure the correct messaging gets out.

Containerised, and virtualised. The lack of professionalism with the attackers means that they can commit an operation in no time. A turn and burn – they can go from civilian life, to weaponising civilian equipment and conducting attacks far faster than the security forces are able to interdict them. Old fashioned terrorism required significant planning and preparation, but these days, “all you need is the outline of a plan”… with the huge number of potential threats and the small number of security forces, they’re desperate for some edge that will enable them to automate monitoring of their potential suspects. That is the only way they can scale up to handle the size of the threat. Hence the repeated calls for a mechanism to circumvent encryption.

Terrorists have embraced disruption and innovation, the security forces are trying to keep up. They have no way to determine who is about to commit a turn and burn operation, and need some way to scale their monitoring. Do they have a chance? Or is there another way to remove the benefits the internet has bestowed on terrorists organisations?