Mercury Rising 鳯女

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“… the lovechild of Franz Kafka and Monty Python…” –Charlotte Heath

Posted by Charles II on September 29, 2014

Jason Edwards Harrington, former airport security agent, writes in the Guardian that laughter is the only proper response to a “War on Terror” that has replaced “the Axis of Evil” with “The Network of Terror”:

It’s hard not to see the funny facets of a never-ending campaign against a nebulous enemy (Axis of Evil a decade ago, Network of Death today) in which you are issued a terror intelligence memorandum detailing the standard operating procedure for the confiscation of cupcakes. (“Cupcakes have got to have a reasonable level of icing to be allowed onto a plane,” one TSA manager advised us.)

My former co-workers and I are not the only ones who found some of this stuff funny. In 2012, the international relations scholar Charlotte Heath-Kelly argued in a paper in the European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research that the War on Terror can be viewed as the lovechild of Franz Kafka and Monty Python as much as that of any vice president and foreign minister.

Not so funny: the creation of terrorists due to incompetent policy, the waste of resources desperately needed to keep the US from decomposing into a Second World country, and the level of corruption required to keep a nation of 300 million terrified of maybe 30,000 bad guys.

One interesting link in Harrington’s story. Seems we may have bombed a group that doesn’t exist. Imran Khan, Al Jazeera:

A few days ago I began to see news reports quoting US ‎military and government officials talking up a group called Khorasan. This piqued my interest. In 14 years of covering this region this was a new name for me. Then the reports began to paint them as a shadowy super group of hardcore terrorists that are experimenting with technology and new, ever more fiendish ways of attacking civilians in the US. Then the group became the target of US airstrikes in Syria and suddenly the name was on every news outlet’s lips.

Except something, to me, wasn’t right.

I began to make some calls to contacts across the Middle East and South Asia. To say I drew a blank would be an understatement. Reactions ranged from a hearty laugh to confusion. The name was new.

Khorasan is almost certainly a term that the US government has coined

2 Responses to ““… the lovechild of Franz Kafka and Monty Python…” –Charlotte Heath”

  1. Khorasan’s another name for the Al-Nusra Front. They’re the Sunni jihadi group that tried to put some distance between itself and ISIS by freeing a few of its prisoners each time ISIS beheaded a high-profile Westerner, though they’re no strangers to the beheading game themselves, they’re generally just a little more politic about it.

    Meanwhile, the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” is claiming that US air strikes is ISIS-held areas hit a granary. However:

    Turns out that the monitoring “group” cited is a one-man operation run out of the UK by an anti-Assad rebel person:

    It also turns out that the “moderate rebels” don’t want us to bomb ISIS, they want us to bomb Assad:

    Do remember that “moderate rebels” were the ones who sold Steven Sotloff to their ISIS brethren:

    Germany at least recognizes that there is no real daylight between the “moderate rebel” Sunni jihadis and the ISIS Sunni jihadis:

  2. Charles II said

    I don’t think we know what the Khorasan group is. Here’s Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussein:

    The other mention was an article in the LA Times from two weeks earlier about Pakistan which mentioned the group’s name as something quite different than how it’s being used now: as “the intelligence wing of the powerful Pakistani Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur.” Tim Shorrock noted that the name appears in a 2011 hacked Stratfor email published by WikiLeaks, referencing a Dawn article that depicts them as a Pakistan-based group which was fighting against and “expelled by” (not “led by”) Bahadur.

    There are serious questions about whether the Khorasan Group even exists in any meaningful or identifiable manner. Aki Peritz, a CIA counterterrorism official until 2009, told Time: “I’d certainly never heard of this group while working at the agency,” while Obama’s former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said: ”We used the term [Khorasan] inside the government, we don’t know where it came from….All I know is that they don’t call themselves that.” As The Intercept was finalizing this article, former terrorism federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review that the group was a scam: “You haven’t heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn’t one. It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan … had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.”

    It’s true that trying to draw clear distinctions in a civil war is pretty meaningless. Assad is an enemy of the Saudis. He’s also an enemy of Syrians whose families faced the brutality of either Assad Junior or Senior. And Kurds. And members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Those groups overlap. The Syrian National Congress is a very real group, and they aren’t just a Western invention or another name for terrorists. The problem is that (a) they are fragmented, and (b) they’re mostly composed of people who want to negotiate rather than fight.

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