Alabama´s ("Roll Tide!") Omar Hammami was the subject of this blog´s in-depth post of November 18, 2010 ("Omar Hammami: The Terrorist Next Door.")
Early this month reports surfaced that Omar was killed by the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabaab, of which Omar was a member. Ahmed Abdi Godane, the head of al-Shabaab, reportedly ordered the hit. (Godane also ordered the attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Kenya on September 21, 2013, in which over 70 people died.)
We know little about Godane´s socio-economic origins, although he once worked as an accountant. Such is not the case with another Al-Shabaab leader, Abdukadir Mohamed Abdukadir; he is 200-proof middle class.
This falling out among middle class rebels is simply the latest episode in a very old story. Equally as old is the U.S. intelligence community´s utter inability to understand how and why such splits among terrorists occur, much less how to create and foster them -- to split, split and split again. I make that assertion because if the boys and girls of the C.I.A. knew what they were doing, not only al-Shabaab but also al-Qaeda´s top man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian M.D., would have been sabotaged themselves years ago.
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Our post-Snowden world has generated talk in Washington of a top-to-bottom review of the federal government´s spy techniques.
Prediction: the end result will be more of the same: new and improved telephone taps, more emails monitored, more and more expensive whiz-bang satellites, more Facebook snooping. U.S. intelligence chiefs are absolutely convinced that at some point quantitative addition will create qualitative change -- just one more email monitored, just one more phone tapped, and Presto McGuillicutty: in a blinding flash this whole terrorist thing will become crystal clear. The fact that electronic gizmos and computer gimmicks have yet to prove they are worth the megabucks they cost is completely beside the point: terrorism is a growth industry.
We will present below the basis of a totally new method -- new for the United States -- for understanding why terrorist groups irresistibly and irredeemably tend to break up, splinter. For obvious reasons, we will not make certain extrapolations.
Warning: our approach has a singular, insurmountable problem which totally prohibits its implementation by the United States government: there is no money in it. The price is wrong.
You want concrete, indisputable proof of zero dollars? See our post of April 29, 2013, "The Boston Marathon Terrorists: Open Letter to Congress on The Tsarnaev Brothers." It explains how the brothers could have been identified within hours of the attack by means of (i) a telephone and (ii) a telephone book. That´s right: not a single phone had to be tapped, not one email opened, not one satellite dialed up, not one Edward Snowden hired.
The potential monetary ramifications of our approach are severe indeed. Had it been utilized in Boston, the brothers Tsarnaev would have been caught long before they had the chance to murder M.I.T. officer Sean Collier. F.B.I., Homeland Security et al, you had better get down on your knees and thank God that I am not a relative of Officer Collier. I would sue you so hard, you´d never come down.
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The underlying cause of the penchant of terrorists to split into factions was presented in 2009 in The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion. An outline of that discussion is presented below.
A necessary preface: our outline contains the names of numerous artists, e.g., Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Tristan Tzara, Compte de Lautréamont, who are essential to understanding middle class rebellion, hence terrorism. The fact that the N.S.A., C.I.A. and F.B.I. never heard of them is only the start of the federal government´s problems.
To increase readability, I have omitted most of the original source citations; for those who want them, see The Source of Terrorism.
In order to understand terrorists´ susceptibility to bicker and break up, we start with the general context that gives middle class rebellion its meaning. The Source of Terrorism:
Only the middle class can mediate and mollify the sharpest, most profound cleavage of all, the great economic divide separating the rich and the poor. But if the middle class is the reconciler and the balance, it is also the rebel and the extreme. The latter appear when dislocation occurs -- when the prevailing mode of middle class reconciliation is in need of repair. Without class mediation and its reinvigoration via rebellion, Western civilization cannot survive. The middle class, can it continue to play its political role of reconciler? That is the question…
If you don´t see how middle class reconcilers and rebels are not just connected but intertwined, see our post of July 13, 2013, "Edward Snowden: Quid Pro Quo Vadis?" By the way, do not feel alone. As our post pointed out, the N.S.A., admits to having a hard time distinguishing reconcilers from rebels working in its own headquarters. As for what to do with the rebels in their ranks...gosh... To underline the debacle: for every single reason why they hired Snowden, I would have rejected him.
What difference does it make? Well, Washington´s future prospects for identifying and handling rebels are dim/dimmer/dimmest. Ergo, The Big Surprise: expect more Snowdens.
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“But to my mind…it is a custom
More honour’d in the breach than the observance.”
-- William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene 4 --
"Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?"
-- Marlon Brandon, "The Wild One," 1953 --
How does middle class rebellion start? The Source of Terrorism:
Middle class rebellion customarily makes its initial appearance in opposition to what the rebel sees and feels in his everyday world: the prevailing mode of reconciliation produced and maintained by his socio-economic class. Unknown to the rebel, that mode contains the same cult of contradiction he will exercise, albeit formed in a former phase, differently attired. That is how, from the very outset, in refusing he accepts, in denying he affirms.
The problem is that, due to some severe disturbance or dislocation, the prevailing reconciliation mode has become unsatisfactory. But in the rebel’s mind, something inadequate is transformed preter-realistically into something evil. Life is not heaven, he concludes; therefore, it must be hell.
In the initial phase of rebellion -- the cult of contradiction -- the rebel is the man who says "No!" He separates himself out. How long he will stay there is problematic.
During the prior two centuries, middle class rebellion created and cultivated five major contradictions: (1) Total intellectualism and total anti-intellectualism. (2) Absolute violence and absolute pacifism. (3) High moral principles and immoral practices. (4) Complete insubordination and complete submission. (5) Total revolution and total reaction. On numerous occasions, rebels vacillated between the opposing extremes, often with fatal results.
To give the reader a taste of what is involved in the cult of contradiction, I will present here only part of (5) total revolution and total reaction. The Source of Terrorism:
... for the middle class rebel, violence is total, apocalyptic. As would be expected, revolution floats around in the same cataclysmic clouds:
· Rimbaud demanded:
"And total vengeance? Nothing!…-- But yes, indeed total,
We want it! Industrialists, princes, senates --
Perish! Power, justice, history -- Down with them!
That is owed to us. Blood! Blood! The flame of Gold!"
There was blood -- on July 10, 1873, Brussels. Paul Verlaine woke up early, went out and bought a revolver. He returned to the lodging he was sharing with his mother and Rimbaud. Around noon, Verlaine displayed the gun to Rimbaud, announcing, “This is for you, for me, for the entire world.” A few hours later, another quarrel broke out. Drunk, Verlaine shouted, “I'll teach you to want to leave me!” He fired two bullets at Rimbaud who was some ten feet away; the first wounded Rimbaud in the wrist, the second missed him. That evening, Rimbaud called the police. Verlaine was given the maximum sentence for criminal assault: two years of hard labor and a fine of two hundred francs.
· Bakunin claimed that anarchism
"aspires to a universal revolution, simultaneously social, philosophical, economic and political, so that of the present order of things, based on property, exploitation, and the principle of authority, whether religious, metaphysical, bourgeois-doctrinaire, or even Jacobin-revolutionary, not a stone will be left standing first in Europe and then in the rest of the world."
Marx and Engels remarked of Bakunin’s statement: “Here indeed we have revolutionary revolutionism!” Not a stone will be left standing. But...what was anarchist practice? Total revolution? In 1873, Marx and Engels’ group, The International Working Men’s Association, kicked Bakunin out of its ranks. Their Report concluded of the anarchists:
"Here we have a society which, under the mask of the most extreme anarchism, directs its blows not against the existing governments but against the revolutionaries who refuse to accept its dogma and leadership...[I]t infiltrates the ranks of the international organisation of the working class, at first attempts to dominate it and, when this plan fails, sets to work to dis-organise it….[W]e cannot regard them otherwise than as traitors or dupes."
· Tristan Tzara trumpeted in his “Dada Manifesto 1918” that “we are not sentimental. We are tearing apart…and we are preparing the great spectacle of disaster, fire, decomposition.”
In 1921, Francis Picabia began to back away from Tzara and Dadaism. No doubt to the dismay of those who had taken at face value Tzara’s statements favoring disaster and decomposition, Picabia complained in an article in L’Esprit nouveau that Dada “has now a tribunal and lawyers, and soon probably a police.”
Soon came two years later. Tzara put together the Evening of The Bearded Heart, consisting of poetry, dances, movies, plays. Pierre de Massot read out a proclamation containing ambiguous comments about Picabia, Picasso, Gide, and Duchamp. Using the pretext of defending Picasso, André Breton, Robert Desnos, and Benjamin Peret charged onto the stage and demanded that de Massot leave. When de Massot refused, Breton swung his cane and broke de Massot’s arm. The angry crowd moved toward Breton; Tzara summoned the police who were standing by. Breton and his friends were tossed out of the auditorium. Later, the poet Paul Eluard demanded that Tzara explain himself. When Tzara appeared on stage, Eluard dashed up and hit Tzara. Actors, stagehands, and Tzara’s assistants beat up Eluard. The anti-climax: Tzara sued Eluard for eight thousand francs in damages.
· The Willich/Schapper faction of Marx’s Communist League broke with Marx for not being revolutionary enough. Shortly thereafter, Willich/Schapper demonstrated what true and authentic revolution was by…co-operating with the Prussian police against the Marxists in the Cologne Communist Trial of 1852.
Total revolution allocated to some unspecified time in some undetermined future: a thing is its limits. And the belief in THE revolution reveals a basic limit of middle class rebellion.
The power to leave -- but not go too far. The reluctance to pursue ultimate consequences appears when violence and revolution approach their limits whether in thought or in action. The rebel does not just turn around; when he returns home, he lands hard, with both feet
You just saw the embryo of a tendency to quarrel, break up. It will fully develop when the cult of contradiction has run its course.
I will not discuss here the various stages the rebel goes through during the cult of contradiction. Let it suffice to say that eventually he ends up where he started off: exhaustion. The Source of Terrorism:
Camus observed that the rebel finds himself “delivered over to the passing moment, to the passing days, and to wasted sensibility.”:
“Great!” Rimbaud sputtered, “Another hour; afterward, nameless ills!”
From Baudelaire’s poem, “Bad Luck”:
"Far from famous tombs,
Towards an isolated cemetery,
My heart, like a veiled drum,
Goes beating out funeral marches."
The days that are passing keep passing. The inner exhaustion exhausts everything except one thing: exhaustion itself. The rebel is fed up with everything except with being fed up:
“I brewed my blood. My duty is over,” Rimbaud announced: “It isn’t worth thinking about any longer. I am really from beyond the grave, and without prospects.”
Baudelaire’s despair: “As for me, my arms are broken from having embraced clouds.”
Lautréamont claimed that one’s “wings get very tired, in a high flight without hope and without regret.”
The rebel´s "No!" is replaced by "Enough!" -- enough of the cult of contradiction. But where will the rebel go? What will he do?
Answer: more of the same -- the contradiction of contradiction, i.e., the cult of synthesis. The Source of Terrorism:
…the cult of synthesis is not what it presents itself to be, the opposite of the cult of contradiction. Rather, the cult of synthesis is simply the logical extension of the cult of contradiction after the latter has run the gamut of objects in its environment -- that cult turned inward, against itself.
The middle class conforms by rebelling, and in so doing, it changes the dominant form of adaptation and conformity, viz., its mode of reconciliation. Equally true but less understood is that the middle class rebels by conforming, i.e., conformism in extremis ….
Underlying the cult of synthesis is the beginning of the settlement of the dislocation that generated rebellion. The problem: how to incorporate what the cult of contradiction made manifest into the prevailing reconciliation mode?
Middle class rebellion cultivates synthesis or re-integration in three areas: (1) the “I” or the individual ego to which the rebel limits and equates the self; (2) the Other; and (3) Active Inactivity.
It is reincorporation in the individual ego that interests us here. The ego as an absolute truth, an idée fixe, is not only the key to why middle class rebels/terrorists quibble and splinter into factions; it is also a major reason why they are attracted to terrorism in the first place. The Source of Terrorism:
Camus concluded that the rebel has the utmost need to guard his singularity, even at the cost of doing evil. Thus, the rebel à la Baudelaire “creates the garden of evil where crime figures as one of the rarer, more highly prized species. Terror itself becomes an exquisite sensation and a collector’s item.”:
·Indeed, Baudelaire praised the “pretty designs” of “rape, poison, the dagger, fire…,” and lauded that
"Beacon, ironic and infernal,
Torch of satanic graces,
Unique relief and glory,
Consciousness in doing Evil!"
· “I took up arms against justice,” Rimbaud professed in the spirit of immorality as a game-board pastime:
“‘You will remain a hyena, etc.…’ screams the demon who crowned me with such nice poppies. ‘Go to your death with all your lusts and your egoism and all your capital sins.’ Oh, I’ve taken on too much. But, Dear Satan, I beg you, show a less irritated eye!...From my Gallic ancestors…I inherit: idolatry and love of sacrilege, oh! All the vices: anger, lust -- it is magnificent, lust -- and above all, lies and laziness.”
· Lautréamont’s variety of crime as a hobby: “As for me, I’m going to put my genius in the service of painting the delights of cruelty!” Elsewhere, he told/ordered, “I have no reason to lie….I don’t envy the Creator; may he leave me to my destiny -- a rising series of glorious crimes.”
Lautréamont’s declaration ushers in a key point. Above all else, in his search for synthesis within his ego, the middle class rebel prizes the genius, the different, the special, the unknown, the Character, the unique, the exception, the new, the eccentric:
· Rimbaud, who exalted the “unknown” in his famous “seer” letter, also glorified “Genius” in perhaps the last poem he wrote:
"He is affection and future, force and love which we, standing up in rage and boredom, see pass in the sky of storm and flags of ecstasy….
He knew us all and loved us all. May we, this winter night, from cape to cape, from the tumultuous pole to the castle, from the crowd to the beach, from regard to regards, with our tired forces and sentiments, hail him and see him, and send him on his way, and, under the tides and on the summits of deserts of snow, follow what he sees, his breathing, his body, his day."
· Baudelaire requested of Death not life but novelty:
"Pour upon us your poison so as to comfort us!
We want, as much as the fire burns our brain,
To plunge to the bottom of the gulf, Hell or Heaven, what does it
To the bottom of The Unknown in order to find the new!"
· Dadaist leader Tristan Tzara had the same final word as Baudelaire: “Dada has succeeded in establishing the circuit of absolute unconsciousness in the audience, which forgot the frontiers of education of prejudices, to experience the commotion of the new.”
·In his search for the unknown, Giorgio de Chirico titled his self-portrait (1911): “ET QUID AMABO NISI QUOD AENIGMA EST?”*
· Lautréamont, who found God seated on a throne of gold and excrement, teased the reader: “You must agree that my ideas are singular.” He asserted that Genius -- which he wanted to serve cruelty -- “is the supreme health and the equilibrium of all faculties.”
As a core of the unity the rebel yearns for, the mystified individual ego in middle class rebellion´s synthesis phase compels rebels to split, split and split again.
The Source of Terrorism:
Given the axiom that the individual ego is the home of the ultimate truth, it is inevitable that whenever individual rebels get together, collective problems erupt:
· The violent Rimbaud/Verlaine spat is legendary.
· The Dadaists broke into Picabia/Tzara/Breton/Huelsenbeck factions. They engaged in endless spats over who invented the collage and even who came up with the word Dada.
· Karl Marx wrote of the German exiles living in London:
"There they all sat, the members of parliament, the deputies of Chambers, the generals, the Club orators of the halcyon days of 1848 and 1849, they smoked their pipes just like ordinary people and debated the loftiest interests of the fatherland day after day, in public and with unshakable dignity. This was the place where for the price of a few bottles of extremely cheap wine the German citizen…could learn to within a minute when ‘it would all start.’ "
Because the true organisation of the Emigration was this “tavern organisation,” spirited disputes were unavoidable. Marx:
"The privations of individuals, intrigues, plots, self-praise -- the heroes spent their energies in such paltry activities. But the Emigration did have one achievement to its credit: a history of its own, lying outside world history, with its own political pettifoggery running parallel to public affairs. And the very fact that they fought each other so bitterly led each to believe in the importance of the other. Beneath the facade of all these strivings and conflicts lay the speculation in democratic party funds….”
Marx described the clamorous end of an effort to end all clamorous infighting: “To the accompaniment of shouts, drumming, crashes, threats and raging the edifying meeting went on until 2 a.m. when the landlord turned off the gas and so plunged the heated antagonists into darkness. This brought all plans to save the nation to an abrupt end.”
Individualism for everybody gives birth to cliquishness. As exemplified by Marx’s exiles, the political polish shines brightly: a corps of generals without any troops...
The political manifestations of the cult of synthesis in the “I” may be none at all or -- just as easily -- everything:
Lautréamont brandished the ego against not just politics but the entire world, exalting the one “who has denied everything, mother, father, Providence, love, ideal, with the end of only thinking of himself...”
As for the opposite, completely political manifestation, Marx described the exiled Harro Harring:
"In Greece and Brazil, on the Vistula and La Plata, in Schleswig-Holstein and in New York, in London and in Switzerland: the representative of Young Europe and of the South American Humanidad, painter, night watchman and employee, peddler of this own writings; among Poles one day and gauchos the next, and ship’s captains the day after that, unacknowledged, abandoned, ignored, but everywhere an itinerant knight of freedom with a thoroughgoing dislike for ordinary bourgeois hard work -- our hero at all times in all countries and in all circumstances remains himself; with the same confusion, the same meddlesome pretensions, the same faith in himself. He will always defy the world and never cease to say, write and print that since 1831, he has been the main spring of world history."
… Viewed historically, the middle class fixation on the Individual Personality is a residue of the highly personal master/apprentice relationship, the hallmark of the feudal guilds.** … personalismo is especially visible in countries where middle class rebels seized political control. Their feudal guild-based heritage and cliquish behavior ... forever compel them to strive to convert friendship into a formal structure -- instead of making a formal structure friendly.
In its denunciation of Omar Hammami in December of 2012, the al-Shabaab leadership attributed the source of the rift to Hammami´s "narcissistic pursuit of fame." Psych 101 students, take note: al-Shabaab´s word choice is a textbook case of unconscious psychological projection. Ditto childish petulance, superficial allegations, frivolous ramblings, whimsical desires.
In other words, for readers of The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion the whole al-Shabaab-Omar Hammami scene is incorrigibly old hat. Source provides other case studies of the same split, split and split again phenomenon, e.g., the trials and tribulations of the "partisan leader."
What is to be done?
Answer: usher the rebel/terrorist through the cult of contradiction phase and into the cult of synthesis. To repeat, it is in the synthesis phase that breaking into schisms moves from a latent to a manifest condition.
Having no idea whatsoever of the psycho-social and ideological dynamics involved, Washington executes exactly the opposite tactic, viz., retaining terrorists in the cult of contradiction. This month´s case study: the November 1, 2013 killing in a drone attack of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud who was engaged in peace talks with the government of Pakistan.
U.S. military and intelligence agency personnel, let´s go ahead and call your tactic what it is:
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Our less-intrusive, less-costly, more effective approach has another advantage all the satellites and telephone taps and email monitorings and Facebook snooping and Microsoft eavesdropping put together cannot match: it cannot be co-opted.
Spy chiefs are complaining that, as a result of Snowden´s leaks, terrorists are "rubbing their hands in glee" and changing their methods. No such changes or other adjustments are possible to our method...
Let there be no mistake: terrorists read this blog. Terrorists, you cannot learn anything useful from this post any more than can the C.I.A., F.B.I., Homeland Security or N.S.A., and for exactly the same reason.
You can change hats; you can change tactics. You can change leaders; you can change addresses. You can change habits, you can change names.
You cannot change who you are.
*And What Shall I Love If Not The Enigma?”
**Michel Foucault identified as follows
"the defining characteristics of guild apprenticeship: a relationship of dependence simultaneously individual and total vis-à-vis the master; a fixed duration of training that is completed by a qualifying proof, but that cannot be broken down into a precise program; a wide exchange between the master who should give his knowledge and the apprentice who should give his services, his aid, and often a remittance. A form of domesticity is mixed with a transfer of knowledge." Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir, Gallimard, Paris, 2000, pp. 183-4.