Thursday, June 1, 2017

"Team Skiff" Sunday Read: Review of the Final Report on Combat Terrorists and Foreign Fighter Travel Task Force

Repost - In light of the attack at OSU today, people should be mindful that the Obama Administration has been well aware of the danger that the Somali muslim resettled population poses to Americans and has consistently lied about it.
We appreciate feedback, questions and concerns from our Readers.  The following article is in response to questions posed to us by Readers wondering if the recent government report had any actionable recommendations. More detailed information is provided by the embedded links 

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A Team Skiff Executive Summary:

Final Report of the Task Force on 
Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel, Sept 2015
US House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee

Readers should consider reading it themselves so that there is no ambiguity in what is said by whom. The document may be downloaded for your convenience at

As this document is 66 pages long, it may take some time to discover the lines of argument and the data on which this was based. For your convenience, the Committee provided a summary and a pocket card (!) of the document. That a committee report can be distilled down to a pocket card is rather a new one on me, but this method ensures that harried folks will just cut to the designated chase conclusions and mouth the talking points without much critical thought.

The page 2 graphic is disingenuous. While the graphic depicts Syria as the end point on one side and America at the other, the reality is more complex. Somalia gets a mere 3 mentions in the report, although Somalis are 14 of the 58 listed American adherents who tried to or did join ISIS. Again, Americans of Somali extract made up 25% of the category in question (assumption based upon very large contingent of Somalis settled in Minnesota by the federal government, numerous stories of shahids from that community), yet Somalia gets 3 mentions. One may wonder if Al Shabaab, one of the most violent and successful terrorist organizations in the world, is paying lobbyists to keep their achievements on the down low. Indeed, al Shabaab gets ZERO mention in this, yet the ties between the expatriate Somali community in America and in Minnesota particularly rate no ink. Fascinating. They must have hired Inspector Clouseau.

Douglas Robinson McCain
The evidence of Americans fighting for Al Shabaab is much greater than that alluded to in this report. The ADL issued a report that mentions at least 50 Americans fought for Al Shabaab going back to 2007. This was not hard to find, it involved no more google fu than typing in “americans died fighting for al shabaab”.

Page 6 is the 1 page executive summary (EXSUM.) Pages 20-21 are the listed key recommendations of the report. It is notable that government reports now closely resemble popular news magazines in format, layout and “feel”. One almost looks for the subscription postcard or perhaps a coupon flyer, in vain. The confusion is understandable. There was once upon a time where government reports used all available time on generating the content. Now, there is considerable effort expended to give everything a finished, commercial look so that it might blend in among the items on a Dentist's waiting room coffee table.

In Appendix II: American Foreign Fighter Aspirants & Recruits (pgs 58-59), it is interesting to note that the Committee does NOT draw attention to the obvious - that of the 58 Americans listed as aspirants & recruits, 14 do not have a Muslim sounding name, the rest DO. There are 3 unknowns on the list whose names were likely redacted due to the age of the wayward. This still gives about 75% of the names on that list as muslim in character. It is a mystery that the report does not call this out. Perhaps it is an oversight.

It may also provide a chuckle to the cognoscenti in the readership that the Congress' own report identifies the organization ISIS by name, and only secondarily credits it as aka ISIL. It is small seams in the presentation of anything in Washington that imply other, deeper issues. Is it that the committee did not get the memo from POTUS and the style manual that it is ISIL, not ISIS? Is the committee showing some spine and calling a thing by its rightful name, consequences be damned? Is it a simple clerical error? Hard to claim it is a clerical error when they went to such lengths with the overall production values. Time will tell as career arcs rise and fall. Just pay attention to who disappears from promotional group photos.

I was curious after reading the report just how many times the word “muslim” appeared in this report. Across the report you will find “muslim” a total of 9 times. Twice on page 9, four times on page 10, once on page 24 and twice in a single endnote referring to the same item on page 62. That is pretty stunning, considering 75% of the names of American origin foreign fighter aspirants and recruits are muslim. The report seems to draw no correlation beyond the scant mentions I listed. One wonders if the Allies could have defeated the Nazis in WW2 if they only made a cursory mention of a few inescapable facts, then went on to merely call Nazis “extremists”. What were the authors of this report smoking? Call things by their rightful name, just as Marine Le Pen did:  She is fearless and has more testicular fortitude than the entire apparatchik class in Washington, D.C. The report authors are positively flaccid in comparison.

When all is said and done at the end of any Federal or State report, it might be a move towards transparency if the creators of the documents provided some facts and metadata on the work. Surely, total man hours involved, budget expended, hard copies made, offices distributed to and a rough butcher's bill of what was spent on what... so that the taxpayers have some idea of what this sort of thing costs. THAT would be useful, and it probably would also be astonishing. Until such time in this "most transparent administration" ever, we will just have to guess at the facts.

In searching the pdf, it becomes an inescapable conclusion that it has been deliberately skewed towards SYRIA being the main event for terrorism and radicalization. Syria is named a whopping 181 times in the report. In comparison, Iraq gets the nod 75 times, Libya 23, Iran 6 and Egypt 3. Saudi Arabia gets 2, Emirates gets 1, and Qatar ZERO mentions. The last 3 are glaring, as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar are sources of vast resources being dumped into Syria to destabilize it.

A thinking person might at this point ponder the question, “if Syria is the ground zero of radicalized youth attraction, analogous in draw to a Wahabbist Haight-Ashbury of the 60's, why then is the Government so hard over on bring them all here?”. THAT is an uncomfortable question that you can have with your elected representatives.

A pervasive theme of “radicalization” permeates the document. It is spoken of in terms like a communicable disease, a psychological AIDS and Ebola combination. Are Americans to believe that they can just be walking about, taking care of daily business when all of a sudden, “WHAM!”... some mind control wave emnates from a Mosque minaret and changes mild mannered Americans John and Jane Doe into crazed jihobbyists? The overall tone is that of Pinocchio getting lured into a life of crime through sleazy means. This view robs individuals of their own agency. They are responsible for their own choices. Insisting on this obtuse “radicalization” meme is not helpful. Perhaps a read of Edward Hunter's classic, “Brain Washing in Red China” is in order before anyone lets a committee near a blank report.

It is then necessary to ask the question, is it radicalization if they WANT what they are selling? I posit that there is no brainwashing involved, no radicalization as they hypothesize. These homebrew radicals are looking for something, they are seekers, dissatisfied with what America offers. They are malcontents and weak personalities that are spotted, assessed and recruited just like any turncoat or spy. There is no special radicalization sauce, no Svengali. These are people that want to be had.
What WOULD be helpful, then? I am glad that you asked. A British officer, Frank Kitson codified the idea of the “pseudogang” in the 20th Century. The concept is well covered in General Kitson's classic “Gangs and Counter Gangs”, available at Amazon

Frank Kitson:  Gangs and Counter-Gangs (1960)

The general idea is to send out an element to mimic the actual enemy, thereby drawing in supporting elements and recruits. This enables the western forces to disassemble and kill off the terrorist organization. If not by outright combat, then by sowing distrust and letting them settle the imagined scores among themselves. Either way, call it Victory. Imagine if you will if American Special Forces set up an element overseas as a reception element for incoming recruits to the global jihad. They could then adequately document them and perhaps even implant tracking devices so they could follow them in real time. After a while, the intelligence developed from that would allow a sufficiently ambitious force to go for the brass ring and take the whole structure down in one fell swoop. If they start too early, the target terrorist organization might get squirrely and wise to the ploy. Imagine the puzzlement and mayhem that would result if the terrorists started finding small beacons implanted into random, inbound terrorist recruits. THAT would go a long way towards increasing friction between wannabe jihobbyists from America and their bearded, unwashed brethren in the backwaters of the world.

In closing, we do not see much that is actionable in this report. It falls squarely in the “produce something to justify whatever the boss wants” category. And, based upon analyzing the frequencies of various words, it appears that Syria is the main focus and not in a healthy way. Consider if you will what the world would have to look like for the United States to actually be committed on the ground IN Syria. That is a WW3 fantasy that just is not conceivable with Russian power on the ground with the Iranians. Unless American policymakers are serious about getting the unpleasant work done (see “pseudogangs”), this business model will grind on. If that is the case, you know somebody is getting paid huge sums, and it sure is not you or I. Follow the money, all else derives therefrom.

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Anonymous said...

The idea of Kitsonian pseudogangs... they would be effectively a form of RSO&I for further exploiting them. RSO&I is "Reception, Staging, Integration & Onward Movement". It is outlined in FM 100-17-3.


Fred said...

Sir, I saw your copyright statement. May I quote a few lines of your various posting and link back to your post from which I quote? I would like to post links with quotes on social media. It would be in a positive lite mostly to encourage our fellow Americans to educate themselves and prepare.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Stop shouting... said...

Absolutely! Thanks for your interest in our work.
Best, YTZ