The Right Coast

September 23, 2004
Terrorist Networks
By Mike Rappaport

An interesting post by the Belmont Club, commenting on a case study "examining how mapping social networks and understanding their properties can be used to take down terrorist networks":

[The] last paragraph is crucial to understanding why the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the toppling of Saddam Hussein may have cripped global terrorism so badly. Without the infrastrastructure of a state sponsor, terrorism is limited to cells of about 100 members in size in order to maintain security. In the context of the current campaign in Iraq, the strategic importance of places like Falluja or "holy places" is that their enclave nature allows terrorists to grow out their networks to a larger and more potent size. Without those sanctuaries, they would be small, clandestine hunted bands. The argument that dismantling terrorist enclaves makes "America less safe than it should be in a dangerous world" inverts the logic. It is allowing the growth of terrorist enclaves that puts everyone at risk in an otherwise safe world.
Of course, this suggests that the Bush Administration's decision to allow Falluja to operate as a terrorist enclave was a serious mistake. I'd say it is high time to fix that mistake.