March 31, 2009

On that piece in TNR

Will McCants sent me an email this morning about my piece in the New Republic:

Great piece. One of the interesting things I've learned about the forums is that many of the participants are both active militants and forum participants. My silly term for them is "forum fighters". For these sorts of participants, the forums are like

This mirrors an argument that I have been making, which is that if our tactical leaders are using fora like companycommand and platoonleader to trade TTPs, we should expect the other side's tactical leaders to be doing much the same thing. Bottom-up innovation is like the Loch Ness Monster for us geeks who study military transformation theory. (Most of the literature covers examples of top-down innovation.) So it's always exciting when we see it.

I made a mistake in the TNR piece, though. I did not correct the following sentence when it was edited:

The foiled 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot, for example, was allegedly plotted almost entirely within the confines of my old neighborhood in East London. And while some terrorists--such as Mohammed Sadiq Khan, who is believed to have masterminded the 7/7 bombings--travelled to Pakistan and trained in militant camps, the common denominator that has emerged from domestic terror threats in places like the United Kingdom is that their staging ground was actually on the internet rather than in a physical "safe haven."

Allow me to offer a slight correction. The common denominator I was trying to talk about is internet-driven propaganda rather than the internet more generally. I should have caught this when the sentence changed during the editing process. My bad.