The economics of Al Qaeda?

Such analyses are often highly speculative, but this one seems to be based on concrete data:

And, contrary to speculation that Al Qaeda in Iraq was reliant on international donations, this wasn’t a source of funding either. The group was self-financing. In fact, the core organization of Al Qaeda in Iraq in Anbar province was so profitable that it sent revenue to associates in other provinces of Iraq, and perhaps even further afield. The group raised millions of dollars annually through activities such as simple theft and resale of valuable items such as cars, generators, and electrical cable, and hijacking truckloads of goods, such as clothing. And their internal financial record-keeping was diligent, with all the requirements of expense accounts in regular businesses. A central unit of Al Qaeda in Iraq’s hierarchy required operatives to keep records of even the smallest outlay and to turn over their “take” to upper-level leaders, who made the spending decisions.


For those too lazy to scroll down, the RAND study page is at - it's really good! (I read it back in 2010, but it's still interesting.)

You mean an terrorist organization (that can plan and execute the deadliest terrorist attack on american soil in history) can also organize fundraising through organized crime? shocking!

Why terrorists live with their moms.

Not uncommon.

A lot of leftist terrorist groups in Latin America funded terrorist activities with illegal drug trafficking and kidnappings. As soon as they discovered that becoming rich from their funding sources was more fun than being leftist revolutionaries, they took down their photos of Che and put up original Picassos.

I'm somewhat skeptical of the recordkeeping. The stability of a cellular terrorist network is separation of the cells. Accounting procedures connect too many dots. So, it's either not true or they've gone completely corporate. Next they'll be organizing labor unions at the shipping ports.

Yep, that squares with all the on-the-ground reporting I followed on AQI.

The Sunni tribes went over to AQ to try to retake power. They found out life under AQ was neither pleasant nor likely to lead them back to power. The Anbar Awakening followed, especially once Petraeus took over and COIN started to be taken more seriously than mere force protection.

There was considerable concern Sunnis would go back to AQ because Maliki hasn't been particularly good to them, but that hasn't happened much. I think that argument underestimates how unwelcome AQ made themselves. The Sunnis were fairly moderate socially and had a modicum of functioning gov't and economy, while AQ was inalterably opposed to both.

TallDave: Everything you said was correct except COIN.

The new COIN manual was nothing short of plagiarism of the older manuals. The announcement of new tactics was part of the military-political propaganda campaign to claim things would be different, to reinforce popular support.

It was the demonstration of our commitment to remain in Iraq which dispirited the Sunni. They had counted on the US giving up the fight.

I was with the 172d Stryker BCT that was extended/called back to Iraq in 2006. We did COIN operations in Mosul and Ninewah before moving into Baghdad to suppress al Sadr.

Its very Dangeours Terrorist for World.American should be attack in the al qaeda

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