For your entertainment, over at NSFWCorp, the War Nerd (Gar Brecher) reports on the trials of being a “jihadi middle manager” in Mali:
… There wasn’t anything like a “terror network” operating in Mali, even when the northern half of the country was marked with those diagonal red lines meaning “under Islamist control” a few months ago. Al Qaeda is as dead as bin Laden, and it died—if it ever really existed—years before the Old Man himself was shot up while watching Jeopardy reruns in Abbotabad.
There are plenty of Islamists, from one or another of the hardline traditions—Salafist, Wahhabi, Deobandi—but they don’t report to any central Al Qaeda Board of Directors. It’s always local, much more local than the news services want to tell you. In Mali, there was a simple physics problem, a surplus of energy in the Maghrib, the rim of North Africa. Some of that energy spun back south, across the Sahara, into places like Mali…
Naturally, what happened next was that local agendas started dividing the Jihadis. This always happens, because “Jihad” means whatever a bunch of 20-something local guys want it to mean. To the Tuareg nationalists of the FMLN, it meant a Tuareg homeland. To the Algerian Salafists, it meant a chance to regroup and win, for once, against a much softer opponent than the Algerian Army. To Ansar Dine, a crossover band, it meant a Tuareg homeland that would be quasi-Islamist, soft-Jihadi. To the Mauritanian Maraboutis, who’d been sulking for years about the way AQIM promoted Algerians over West Africans, it was a chance to form their own command, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA). For a few hundred freelance Jihadists who bounce from war to war, it was a great new gig. And for the few—real few—actual Al Qaeda management types trying to keep all these groups in line, it was one more chance to try to establish a genuine “Qaeda,” a real base of operations, without screwing up yet again….
That’s the key here. In fact, Abdelmalik Droukdel had no control over the various militias operating in the name of Jihad. His memo is one long whine about what the Jihadis are doing wrong. But what’s even more interesting is that, as usual, the Jihadis are doing what their holy Book says to do; Droukdel was in a hopelessly weak position not only because he didn’t really control the troops under his nominal command but because the hotheads really were doing what a Jihadi is supposed to do—and his only argument against doing it is that it wasn’t politically wise…
Perhaps this can be some consolation to Doug Galt’s wounded spirit. As Saint Richard of Pryor was wont to say, people are just people, all over the world — and the results can be comic, as long as it’s not your luggage they’re mishandling.
Apart from the universal futility of human ambition, what’s on the agenda for the start of the weekend?