Trump Has Put Forth Several Different Components of
Fighting the War On Terror (1)
This article consists of two sections. The first will lay out the terrorism issues and the second, the Trump policies to counteract the terror threat. This article is a little long but the need to be as comprehensive as possible to lay out the problem, then the solution, makes it necessary.
War On Terror Is Not Just An ISIS Problem:
While Trump has kept the defeat of ISIS as his top priority in waging the war on terror, he and his security team have referenced the broader group of Islamists that include Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, and others. They have more broadly discussed the issue of Radical Islam as supported by Islamists. ISIS is at the forefront as it is the closest known direct threat to the US and Europe. The other groups are no less lethal and threaten Central African and Middle Eastern countries. Hamas and Hezbollah are really state sponsored terror groups funded in a large part by Iran. In that vein, Trump views Iran as a major antagonist in the war on terror as well as a global nuclear threat that resulted from the Obama Iran Nuclear agreement.
A Trump administration would view Radical Islam as the enemy regardless of their self-described sect or moniker. Further, with this view, the war on terror is not isolated to one or more radical Islam groups, but rather is inclusive of all of the groups and solutions have to address the concept of radical Islam rather than the more tactical view of ISIS alone.
War On Terror Matrix (Partial, For Illustration Only)
Tentacles of Terrorism:
On the right hand side of the graphic shown above, there is a column titled “Tentacles of Terrorism. The list includes 9 items but it should be noted that the list is actually quite longer and nuanced. But, for purposes of this article, this list will provide a springboard for discussion. (The Taliban is excluded from this discussion as they are locally focused and semi-governmental in nature.)
Command and Control:
In the past, command and control within terror groups have consisted of a dispersed group of leaders communicating with one another in any way they could devise. They did not have bases of operations where synchronized planning and communications could take place. Some of their communications involved the releasing of video tapes by terrorists like Osama bin Laden and his key followers.
ISIS has broken that mold and seems to have much of its centralized command and control in the Syrian city of Al-Raqqah. They are establishing sub C&C centers in Iran, Libya and other expansion areas. ISIS has also broken out and disbursed C&C to local cells such as the one in Brussels. ISIS has also mastered a new paradigm of creating what has been erroneously called lone wolf actors. These are not lone wolf actors that act out based on their own motivations. A better description would be Decentralized Islamic Radicals (DIR).
These individuals and small groups have become radicalized through the ISIS internet propaganda campaigns. Just as non-state sponsored terrorism was created so nations could not retaliate against nations, the newly created DIR terrorists are an attempt to eliminate the need for direct contact to train, motivate, and execute despicable terror acts. Al-Qaeda attempted to create this form of terror in the early 2000’s but were not as successful as ISIS has been. AQ also was more focused on large-scale attacks whereas ISIS sees any form of terrorism as meeting their objectives of domination through fear.
This category of terrorist may be the most difficult to detect and stop as the campaign has been designed to take advantage of surveillance protocols in the US and Europe. By remaining under the radar of normal surveillance via covert or non electronic communication, they can plan and execute with a high degree of anonymity. In the San Bernardino and Orlando attacks, it was not until long after the attacks did we learn that the radicalization of the perpetrators took place over an extended period of time. Further, our current tracking protocols are totally incapable of creating an effective prevention regime. NSA surveillance will not yield much information to prevent these types of attacks.
Operational organization includes not only a hierarchical management team, but financial, military, cyber, asset, and terror export management. AQ started with a tightly controlled management team with Osama Bin Laden at the top. As international pressure was applied, their leadership dispersed and they became a less centralized organization. Hezbollah and Hamas basically are tightly controlled from Iran.
ISIS has created a hybrid form of operational organization. The centralized governance is located in Al-Raqqah with disbursed “subsidiaries” in Iran, Libya and elsewhere. The DIR groups basically give ISIS a totally decentralized and distributed form of cell management that can operate with or without communication or funding from Al-Raqqah.
AQ, Hamas, and Hezbollah and others have relied to a large degree on funding from nation states and individuals who are sympathetic to their war on the West. This funding has been subsidized by criminal activities such as “Kidnapping and Ransom (KNR)” and other such activities. Hamas and Hezbollah are principally financed by Iran and Syria whereas Saudi Arabia was a major contributor to AQ and other terrorist organizations.
ISIS has added a new twist to its terrorist financial operations. ISIS captures oil and banking assets and turns them into cash flow to support ongoing operations. While this is a “fragile” arrangement, as these operations are exposed either physically or via banking transactions, they have allowed ISIS to be self-sufficient financially. Also, their use of DIR terror, basically makes a lot of their terror operations virtually free!
Typically, terror organizations consider tactical strikes of terror, even 9-11, as military operations. Traditionally we have defined military operations as an organized effort to take and control geographical areas, regions, or even nations. This definition fits the ISIS operation but not most other terror groups. ISIS has invaded and taken control of areas in Iraq, Syria and Libya but are moving into central Africa and other areas in the Middle East. Much of their arms and equipment were “confiscated” from weaponry and assets left behind by the US! ISIS military operations appear to be centrally controlled through their headquarters in Syria. ISIS military operations are both sophisticated and fairly well self-financed. This gives ISIS a military and terror component that heretofore has not be pursued by most terror groups.
Due to technological advancements in recent years, the use of the internet, hacking, and other cyber activities have been adopted by terror organizations. The dark internet has provided an area of communications that is difficult to track and police effectively. Facebook, Twitter and other mass use applications provide a vehicle for terror groups to communicate, recruit and train followers. Their use of hundreds of temporary accounts have made it impossible to shut down or track a lot of its usage.
Since the birth of ISIS is a fairly recent phenomena, they were early adopters of technology to recruit and train their military operations and DIR cells. The Obama administration erroneously refers to those recruited, radicalized and deployed via these Cyber tools as “lone wolves”. This is totally masking the danger and effectiveness of ISIS to perform their outreach and radicalization on citizens of any nation, making the tracking of these would be terrorists difficult if not impossible.
Cyber hacking also allows terror organizations disrupt or intercept banking, security, and intelligence information and can even be a lucrative source of revenue. The larger concern is that terrorist organizations will develop either a nuclear or non-nuclear Pulse Bomb (EMP) that is deployable via a drone! This could be used to wipe out computers and communications in very large metro areas. This is particularly worrisome following our ill-advised Iranian Nuclear agreement. Between Iran and N. Korea, neither would have any hesitation deploying this technology and they would probably opt for the nuclear variety in order to maximize the damage. Cyber terror will continue to grow until governments take a much more aggressive approach to eliminate this threat.
Exporting Terror Operations & Cells:
ISIS has taken the exporting of terrorism to a whole new level. Al-Qaeda attempted to accomplish this but were primarily successful in underdeveloped areas without a lot of counter-terror security. ISIS has deeply penetrated the west, especially the European Union (EU) nations, with their terror network. They have taken advantage of the dark-net and social media to recruit, train and deploy “lone” terrorists described above as DIRs. It is simplistic to label these individuals as lone terrorists as you will miss the key point which is how they were created in the first place! ISIS created them, indoctrinated them, and gave them the emotional strength to carry out acts of terrorism.
The EU has blindfolded itself and tied at least one of their own hands behind their backs as a result of their open borders and Syrian refugee immigration programs… They have brought in millions of immigrants from countries who have supported or allowed terrorists to prosper. ISIS has taken advantage of both programs and has many supporters throughout the EU. ISIS is also recruiting more each day as the EU has failed to integrate many of these immigrants which has created Muslim ghettos where hatred of the West and continued radicalization is nurtured and allowed to mature into dangerous terror cells. The EU and the individual countries’ no-gun policies have exacerbated the vulnerability of their own citizens. The key question is whether the EU has tipped past a point of no return!
BREXIT Note: It should be noted that the upcoming referendum in the UK, that will decide whether the UK remains in the EU or be independent of that organization, could be critical to the future of both the EU and the UK. It is my opinion that if the UK stays in the EU, that the decline of Europe will continue on its current accelerated pace. All of Europe will eventually be overrun with immigrants, many of whom support Sharia and a great number who have become radicalized. If the UK breaks away, it may provide incentive for some of the other members of the EU to depart the union or at the very least challenge the highly unpopular mass immigration policies of Brussels. The UK then could also become a base of strength that is not hamstrung with the woes that are besetting the rest of Europe and may eventually be the military base that “liberates” the mainland! Déjà vu all over again! This time, however, fascism would have been imported by their own actions and not a result of a foreign nation’s invasion…
During the Obama administration, one million additional Muslim immigrants have entered the US will little or very shallow vetting. Obama is also increasing the Syrian Refugee immigration with the same porous level of vetting. A recent survey in the US among our Muslim population found that 50% of the current Muslim population support Sharia Law over the US legal system. While many of our past Muslim immigrants have assimilated into our population, many of the more recent immigrants have not. This is especially true of many of the central African immigrants.
While the US is a little better off in terms of harboring radical terrorists, it is not too far behind. If current levels of immigration from these sources continue and allowed to expand, we will quickly be at a tipping point in the US as well. We have already seen ISIS terrorists engage in mass killings in San Bernardino and Orlando. These will continue to grow in numbers and frequency as the current administration is incapable of dealing with Radical Islamic Terrorism as a concept, let alone a reality!
Enter Donald J. Trump
The Trump Anti-Terror Policy (1)
Donald Trump, his surrogates and foreign policy team have all discussed various components of a Trump Anti-Terror Policy. While many details remain to be filled in, it is possible to formulate a structured overall policy based on these discussions.
The graphic shown above contains 9 separate components of the Trump war on terror. These components may have multiple targets such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, while others may be more specific. One purpose of this graphic is to show that an effective war on terrorism is not a simple strategy and has many components and moving parts! It should be noted that the next administration is some 210 days away and the situation on the ground will obviously change somewhat between now and then. The actual ground situation could alter the tactical deployment of various strategies. Also, the matrix shown above contains several components many of which will have to be implemented simultaneously. Below is an overview of what may shake out as the Trump war on terror policy.
We all understand warfare where ground troops, air strikes and other combat tactics are deployed. In the case of terrorism, the military strategy will include various strategies and tactics depending on the terror organization and the geographic area that has been impacted. For purposes of this article, the focus will be on military operations against ISIS.
A key to defeating ISIS will be the destruction of its command and control center in Al-Raqqua, Syria. This effort will require at least 3,000 special operations and technical unit personnel with 15,000 troops from neighboring nations such as Egypt and Jordan to stabilize this region following the decimation of the ISIS command and control. It will also require the use of non-nuclear EMP attacks to shut down the ISIS communication capabilities. Targeted air strikes will be key and they will have to be supported by ground intelligence in order to minimize collateral damage. It must be noted that any effective military incursion into Al-Raqqua will result in civilian casualties. This will be caused by ISIS using civilians as cover. In today’s war against terror, the US and its allies must prepare their citizens that collateral damage is a reality caused by the enemy, and not our liberation efforts!
The fact that Syrian Assad government is still in place adds a new dimension to our offensive moves in Al-Raqqua. Trump will most likely give Assad and Russia assurances that our primary objective is the elimination of ISIS and NOT regime change in Syria. (That train has already left the station with all of the failed Obama red lines.) Trump will also need assurances with Russia that our goal is singular and not threatening to Russia’s interests in the area. Once the command and control of ISIS is taken out, the international force, that is primarily comprised of other Middle Eastern nations, will secure the Al-Raqqua area and allow humanitarian relief to help restore the area. Additional refugee camps will have to be constructed to bridge the relocation task that will take quite a while to complete and stop the mass exodus out of Syria into the West.
Trump will also have to freeze Iran out of Syria during these operations. Iran’s meddling in Iraq will be dealt with separately. The bottom line is that if Assad remains in control of Syria, Iran will continue its status as an ally with Syria as it has for decades!
Military intervention into Libya will be a similar multi-national force, primarily consisting of Egypt and Jordan supported by our special operations and technical unit personnel. Without the command and control in Al-Raqqua, the ISIS operations in other countries will be severely crippled. Couple that with the Trump program to seize oil and financial resources of ISIS, in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the ISIS resistance in Libya will be severely reduced. The key issue in Libya will be to have the Islamic coalition re-establish stability and governance in Libya. Egypt particularly, as the next door neighbor to Libya, has a vested interest in the establishment of a stable Libya. The final military operation will be one of “Martial Law” to keep the Libyan war lords from continuing their opposition to stabilization.
ISIS Central Africa:
ISIS in Central Africa is presently not as cohesive as in Syria and Libya. Without support from Syria, the Central African allegiance to ISIS will be seriously degraded. Military operations in Central Africa will consist of US special operations with the majority of the force being from other Islamic nations. The goal will NOT be nation building but the elimination of the terror elements.
Financial and Oil Asset Seizure:
Trump has talked a great deal about the retaking of ISIS controlled oil assets and seizing any financial assets or revenue that they have used to grow and sustain their operations. The oil asset seizure will consist of air strikes against oil trucks and ground troops to take back the oil facilities. The risk will be that ISIS will demolish the oil facilities as they depart. That is a risk that we need to take and if it happens we can rebuild the infrastructure paying for it with oil revenue once the asset have been re-established.
The financial and oil asset seizure strategy is vital to the total elimination of ISIS (and other terrorist organizations). Once they lack funding, their ability to fund external operations diminishes greatly. Without internet communications, recruitment, training and deployment of foreign ISIS terrorist will be greatly diminished.
International, Domestic Intelligence & Law Enforcement Coordination:
Rudy Giuliani and others could be vital to the formulation of our International and Domestic Anti-Terror reset under Trump. Giuliani understands the absolute necessity of coordination between International Intelligence, the FBI and local law enforcement. The creation of Homeland Security under Bush has only served to create a behemoth bureaucracy that is still ineffective in creating a state of the art communication team that is all-inclusive. Recent terror attacks have shown that local law enforcement has been out of the loop in terms of threats or the surveillance of specific individuals. This has to change!
A key to the short and long-term elimination of Radical Islamic Terrorism, will be to create an international team of local assets that can gather and communicate intelligence on all terror operations world-wide. This has been typically a CIA operation but I am not sure that agency is capable of effective foreign operations at this point. Trump may need to “retool” the CIA. These assets must be locals who can infiltrate terror organizations. This will require a serious commitment to this type of foreign intelligence. All of the information that is gained by this agency, must be tightly coordinated with the Domestic Intelligence operation.
US Domestic Intelligence operations are typically executed by the FBI. Like the CIA, the capabilities and organization of the FBI will be reviewed and revamped as necessary. The FBI has to work seamlessly with the International Intelligence operations to ensure that any threat uncovered can quickly be translated into local action by local law enforcement
The Domestic Intelligence operation will also include agencies like the NSA. The NSA intelligence mandate will be reviewed by Trump with a refocus on social media and targeted electronic monitoring. To day, the NSA massive data storage has only served to provide post event intelligence. By then, it is a bit too late. The entire system needs to be refocused on targeted threats both domestic and foreign and within constitutional constraints.
Immigration Security and Border Control:
Trump will definitely curtail or dramatically cut back on immigration from countries where terror threats have emanated and also the Syrian Refugee program. He will create a team to propose changes that are needed in immigration policy and vetting procedures as well as a new post immigration follow-up. The Syrian Refugee program may be replaced by building Syrian refugee camps to temporarily house refugees until we rid Syria of ISIS. Other Visa programs may be restarted once the new programs and screening are in place. The new policies will include the tracking of Visa immigrants to insure that overstays are brought back under control.
Physical control over the southern and northern border is critical to stop the influx of illegal immigrants as well as drugs and other undesirable smuggling. A physical fence will be built on the southern border with increased electronic and drone coverage for both the northern and southern borders. The federal border control agencies will once again be mandated to closely coordinate enforcement with local law enforcement. Sanctuary States or cities will be eliminated as a violation of federal law and any offending States or cities will be sanctioned by the withholding of federal funds.
Federal, State and local law enforcement will re-institute the deportation of illegal aliens with first priority on those who have violated other Federal, State or local laws. Due to the neglect over the past seven and a half years that has created a backlog in our immigration courts, special legislation may be needed to create additional courts and jurisdictions to eliminate the backlog.
The E-Verify program will be strengthened and re-implemented with enforceable teeth. Violators will be prosecuted and the applicants encouraged to engage in a newly formulated alien repatriation program. The goal will be either the eventual assimilation of illegal immigrants through a lawful process or self-deportation for those preferring to leave the US.
H-1A and H-1B programs will be revisited and emphasis on domestic hiring prioritized.
NATO Terrorism Emphasis:
Trump has spoken several times on the need to review the NATO charter, financial contributions by member nations, and its effectiveness in today’s world. NATO will have to be changed to add an emphasis on counter-terrorism. Changes to NATO that involve control over European immigration will be met with resistance from the European Union who favors a more open border policy. The US may be faced with a decision as to whether it can actually help defend EU nations if they do not tighten immigration policy and internal security. NATO is primarily structured to deal with external threats. Terror threats are internal threats that require a much different approach. A Trump administration will not be all that supportive of an open border policy that could very well be counter-productive to NATO security agreements.
If the EU NATO members and other members do not tighten their border and immigration controls, Trump will place VISA vetting requirements for anyone traveling to the US from nations who do not tighten their own borders. Without increased scrutiny of those travelers, the US would have a gaping hole in its own security protocol and one that terrorists would exploit.
A Trump administration would usher in a totally different war on terror approach.
Obama basically has adopted a hands off approach to fighting the war on terror and has exacerbated our vulnerabilities by opening our borders and not enforcing any immigration laws. He is doing virtually nothing to physically combat ISIS and others overseas leaving them to metastasize leaving the world less secure.
Bush basically combined fighting terror with nation building that ended up leaving our security in about the same spot, for different reasons, as Obama.
Trump would execute a war in terror by eliminating the core of the terror organizations, tightening our own physical security, strengthening international counter-terrorism capabilities, with or without NATO, and Not engage in nation building. Trump’s solution would empower other Islamic nations to help rebuild impacted nations and regions but not directly intervene in national governance.
If Hillary is elected and Trump is not, she will continue Obama’s policies with a little bit of Bush’s nation building thrown in.
If that happens, by a Gun, Move to the Mountains, and Pray!
(1) To consolidate Trump’s terrorism/ISIS foreign policy, I have combined elements of his speeches, campaign rallies, and interviews. Often Trump assumes that the audience understands the details behind his “One-Liners” but often the press, his opponents, and RINOs attribute erroneous conclusions to his comments.