Tragedy in Paris, Part III: San Bernardino, & Enemy Preparedness

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

Sun Tzu

As the massacre in Paris fades from the headlines, terrorists are determined to keep their cause at the forefront of western civilization. In San Bernardino, California a married couple came to disability services Center, opened fire, and killed 14 people and left 21 others wounded. One thing that both the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino massacre have in common is that both were extensively planned events. As the investigative efforts look to determine the individual steps taken by the terrorists who executed these operations, part of the focus will be on how long these terrorist cells were training for their respective attack.

The precision with which the Paris attacks were conducted strongly suggests that the attack was skillfully planned over a period of time. No one can acquire the weapons, ammunition, clothing, and transportation without an enormous amount of planning. The logistics necessary to move weapons across international borders requires assistance from support networks that likely continue to exist. There must have been full rehearsals of the attack before it occurred. These rehearsals could have happened at a training facility outside of Paris. They could have happened inside of Daesh controlled areas in Iraq and Syria. However, some of the rehearsals must have happened in Paris because the terrorists would need to know their approaches to the different venues and potentially their escape routes. While the individual gunmen may not have intended to survive past that horrific night, the mastermind, AA, probably expected to plan other attacks before his career was cut short by some outstanding police work.

Similarly, the attack in San Bernardino must also have been planned at a level of military precision. This couple assembled an arsenal of weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition, homemade pipe bombs (and their component parts), and armored vests. Current theory is that the husband and wife team were lone wolves and did not belong to a central apparatus. However, they must also have received training and logistical support from a terrorist network. The amount of money needed to accumulate all of their equipment, not to mention the SUV they used to attempt to make a getaway, was more than what a mid-level code inspector would make in California.

The attacks in Paris and San Bernardino do have several things in common. Radical Islamic terrorists carried out both attacks to advance the cause of Daesh. Both attacks needed extensive support to be successful. Significant lead-time is necessary to identify a target, collect intelligence, analyze response times, choose and test equipment, acquire ammunition, and then rehearse the operation. As the investigations continue, we will likely learn that the planning had been happening for at least 6-8 months. People must train to become terrorists, it does not happen overnight.

Thus, we cannot underestimate the value to Daesh of social media and its cadre of former Iraqi army officers. The former allows Daesh to transmit intelligence and training materials to sympathizers across the globe. The San Bernardino team attempted to destroy their cell phones and other hardware to prevent (though likely only delay) investigators from learning compartmentalized information. Even if a group such as Anonymous or WikiLeaks shredded a particular database, the information would likely be moved to a new server. The presence of professionally trained military officers is infinitely more dangerous because one of their main missions is to “train the trainers.” As more information and video is released from Daesh, the conclusion that they are receiving professional military training is near unquestionable.

The western world is now dealing with a self-sufficient, millenarian organization bent on the imposition of its will upon the entire world. Daesh does not have the manpower or equipment to meet the militaries of Russia, the United States, or even of Daesh’ Arab neighbors on the field of battle. Daesh’s troops also do not have the strength to fight municipal police departments on the streets of Europe or the United States. Therefore, we can expect further attacks at theaters, schools, malls, clinics, and other milquetoast places of social gathering. We must believe that an attack could come at any time at any place. To think otherwise is simply arrogant and disrespectful to Daesh’s capabilities. Daesh is not a junior varsity team. They are instead possessed of a strong will that can only be countered by an even stronger one.

Fighting Daesh successfully means that two groups must join together to achieve victory. The greater western world and the leaders of Islamic countries need to join forces and determine what must be accomplished to defeat Daesh. Degrading or containing Daesh is not an option because those terms mean that Daesh will continue to exist, just in a smaller form. In this instance, the ideology must be destroyed in the same manner that National Socialism and fascism were eradicated in World War II. This coalition needs to have the collective and sustained force of will necessary to absorb some intermediate defeats in the greater war against Daesh. The strength of leadership will be paramount.

Additionally, the coalition must apply Master Sun’s teachings and strike where Daesh is weak. All logistical networks suffer from the same vulnerability – lack of security during movement. Transportation of things means that the item has to move from one place to another. The more security provided to the transportation, the more attention the transportation draws (think: motorcade). Transfers of money attract attention because of currency transaction reports. By attacking the vulnerable logistic points of Daesh’s foreign operations, we increase the likelihood of disrupting future attacks.

As with any conflict, even in the courtroom or boardroom, knowing the other side’s intentions is critical to achieving victory. Respecting the enemy is not weakness, but simply sound planning.

Authored by Miami business law firm, Yolofsky Law, P.A.