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Jul 28, 2005 10:11 pm


If I Had Enough Time … Research Suggestions Given Away



If I Had Enough Time … Research Suggestions Given Away Here are some leads I wish there were time for me to work on; as there is not, I offer them for others to take up:

Terrorism in blue vs. red states: The United States is split fairly evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Given how much more inclined Republicans are to take steps to fight terrorism, is there quantitative evidence to suggest that the terrorists gravitate to the Democratic-dominated states to carry out operations?

Letters of marque for the twenty-first century: For many centuries, governments lacking the means to hunt down pirates provided"letters of marque" to private ship owners, commissioning them to take down the pirates and take a portion of the profits. (Click here for some examples.) The concept is known as privateering; it was written in the U.S. Constitution ("The Congress shall have Power … To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal"), where it remains in force to the present. Should this idea be revived in the age of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists? June 26, 2005 update: Douglas R. Burgess Jr. takes a stab at this topic in"The Dread Pirate Bin Laden: How thinking of terrorists as pirates can help win the war on terror," Legal Affairs, July-August 2005.

Islamist organizations and individuals in the West: A profusion of radical Islamic institutions have grown up in North American and Western Europe since the 1960s, and especially since about 1990. Trouble is, most of them are unknown in terms of personnel, ideology, track record, and intentions. The same applies to prominent Islamist personalities. I personally have made a specialty of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, with quick forays to study other organizations (such as the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, the Muslim American Society, and the Progressive Muslim Union). I watch individuals such as Jamal al-Amin and Khaled Abou El Fadl. But vastly more research is needed. As I have done previously, I again urge anyone with time on his hands and a desire to defeat terror to sharpen the pencils and boot up the computer.

Analyze Islamic holy books vis-à-vis Zionism: The Qur'an contains many proto-Zionist sentiments (see, for example, this collection) but what do they amount to? An in-depth analysis of the Qur'an, the Hadith, and other authoritative writings is much needed.

A full-length study of UNRWA: It's a truism that Jerusalem stands at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but I say that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the so-called Palestinian refugee problem stand at its fetid core. An in-depth study of UNRWA's evil doings would be a step toward the conflict's resolution. (February 22, 2005)

Paintball and jihad:"The connection between paintball and jihad is one an enterprising researcher might look into," I noted in a comment at"Islamist Paintball, Anyone?" I sketch some of the connections there between this unlikely duo, but the topic deserves in-depth scrutiny.

Lee Malvo's jail-time sketch of Osama bin Laden

Malvo's mentality: Law enforcement and the mainstream media did its best in October 2002 to avoid ascribing the Beltway Snipers' motives to a jihad, something I have argued with in an article,"The Snipers: Crazy or Jihadis?" and a blog,"The Beltway Snipers' Motives." More evidence has surfaced since that should be closely analyzed. For example, Lee Malvo's defense (yes, defense) team introduced more than 80 drawings, an essay, and other writings that their client produced during his time in jail during his first year of captivity. (I reproduce one of them, of Osama bin Laden,"Servant of Allah," here.) The pictures, a good number of which deal with Islamic topics, can be seen at the court's website. As described by the Associated Press, here are some details:

  • The World Trade Center with a jet flying into it and the caption,"You were warned."
  • A detailed depiction of the White House in crosshairs."You will weep and moan & MORN. You will bleed to death. little by little. Your life belongs to Allah. HE will deliver you to us," reads an inscription above the White House drawing. To one side of the crosshairs, it says,"Sept. 11 we will ensure will look like a picnic to you."
  • Drawings and notes calling for jihad.
  • Drawings of Louis Farrakhan, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Qaddafi.

Muslims response to life in the West: During the cold war, there was an adage along the lines of,"If you want communists, send your students to Paris; but if you want capitalists, send them to Moscow." Is there validity to this still today? I dealt obliquely with this question today at"Is Knowing British Tax Laws Proof against Radical Islam?" but the topic deserves direct treatment. From Sayyid Qutb's time in Greeley, Colorado, onward, what has been the cumulative impact of Muslims spending time in the West? Has it more often turned them into liberals or Islamists? My hunch is the latter. (March 9, 2005)

Lodi's Pakistani community: As I suggest in the first bullet at"Lodi, California Mysteries," an American-born nine-year old who cannot speak English is anomalous, suggesting an insular and cohesive Pakistani community of a sort typical of the United Kingdom but generally unknown in the United States. We know little about it now. There is need for an anthropological study of Lodi's Muslims, along the lines of what Linda S. Walbridge did for Dearborn, Michigan in Without Forgetting the Imam: Lebanese Shi'ism in an American Community. (June 11, 2005)

Western jihadis: European and American Islamists have for about two decades been going off to wage jihad in places like Afghanistan, Chechnya, Israel, and Iraq. Who are these individuals socio-economically, psychologically, religiously, ideologically? What sort of recruiting did they go through? What happens to those who return home? Some of this group – like Aukai Collins in My Jihad: : One American's Journey Through the World of Usama Bin Laden--as a Covert Operative for the American Government – have written up their experiences, but the topic remains obscure. (July 20, 2005)




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Jonathan Dresner - 2/25/2005

Technically, we're not signatories to the treaty you mention. But we are signatories to later treaties, like the Geneva and Hague accords and conventions, which have pretty similar effect and which assume the prior treaty.


Ted Lindsay - 2/25/2005

There's a treaty banning literal letters of marque and reprisal, but I guess we could disavow it.

Frankly, the idea sounds a bit more like "plausible deniability" carried a step too far. As when the CIA sank friendly British and French ships in Nicaraguan harbors - perhaps our denial was not plausible, or Mr Reagan was too honest, but we paid the injured shipowners, injured crew, etc.

Are we closer to Death Squads - the police "moonlight" as vigilante murderers at night?

During the Argentine "dirty war" the vigilantes got carried away, and today no one remembers the Montanero urban terrorists, just the counter-insurgents.

Not sure, but even a formal US letter of marque would be a pirate under international law - suspect local law would operate on any crimes, like the fellows in Kabul, Afghanistan who ran a private jail for Taliban prisoners.


Jonathan Dresner - 2/23/2005

... is one of the dumbest ideas I've seen in ages. It's been suggested before in some detail, but it's a really bad idea. Big step in the wrong direction.