Reports indicate that al-Qaeda has resorted to setting forest fires in Europe. These fires have killed scores of people and done untold property and environmental damage.
This tactic is an example of the types of attacks that former special operations commander, John Robb, writes about in his book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the end of Globalization. The terrifying truth is that modern technology both allows individual terrorists to commit powerful attacks and also leaves nation states that employ high technology very vulnerable. And all at very little expense to the terrorist compared the nation’s costs in defending itself.
People constantly talk about al-Qaeda et al’s lack of military power. But, historically speaking, a large forest fire could easily destroy as much life and property as a carpet bombing campaign. And since the terrorist’s goal is not to be precise in his targeting but merely to cause the West to expend itself in various ways, it is a perfectly viable alternative–and much, much cheaper, than bombing.
But when a continent, such as Europe, allows the immigration of a huge population whose ideals are not compliant with its own, one could expect a lot of problems. One thing is for sure, al-Qaeda is not going away by the world simply ignoring it. It will take the moral authority–which means all legal powers–as well as military power to defeat this movement. It can be defeated, just as Nazism and Communism were defeated (Can’t kill an idea, you say?). In the case of Communism it took decades, just as it will with militant Salafism. It is important that 1) the West retain the moral high ground (which should be difficult against the likes of al-Qaeda), (2) never enable the duplicitous nations of the Middle East and Central Asia (as we’ve done with Pakistan and Afghanistan) and (4) firmly state what the west stands for juxtaposed against what al-Qaeda stands for. And finally, (4) we should kill or capture every terrorist we can, not try to find complex ways to turn him into something other than a terrorist. The best way to change the mind of a terrorist is through superior firepower.