The Bureaucracy of Al Qaeda


By Joe Campbell
September 18th, 2009

[digg-reddit-me]Jason Burke and Ian Black assessed the state of Al Qaeda for the Guardian last week. Their conclusion: Al Qaeda has been decimated, especially by recent attacks on its middle management, and they are having trouble gaining new recruits, in part because of various bureaucratic obstacles Al Qaeda has put in place which have detracted from the “romance” of the terrorist life, including:

  • Requiring recruits “to pay around $1,000 (£600) for their equipment, weapons and accommodation…”
  • Making Bin Laden impossible to see.
  • Forbidding recruits from going outside.
  • Running a kind of ad hoc training that: “involved little live firing; they underwent weeks of religious instruction from a junior cleric; an instructor made a bomb, but they had no opportunity to try themselves.”
  • And best of all, Al Qaeda required them to fill out “forms in triplicate before sitting exams to test his suitability for a suicide attack…”

If there’s a certain set of individuals who are willing to blow themselves up, and another set of individuals willing to fill out forms in triplicate, I would guess the overlap is relatively small.

[Image by Mike Kline licensed under Creative Commons.]

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