Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate

Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” dated April 2006

We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.

Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq jihad; (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims all of which jihadists exploit.

I pulled this from the NIE report because this part of the report agrees with my gut feeling that the root causes of terrorism is Middle East poverty and lack of hope. When you combine poverty with inept, corrupt, and non-responsive governments you better have a foreign threat to focus the people’s anger elsewhere. If we are eventually successful in Iraq, it will because we helped the Iraqi government break the Middle East poverty cycle and the Iraqi government’s success gives hope to all Muslims in the region. The Iraqi government must be perceived as owner of the success for this to work. In this framework the US must be perceived as the meddlesome partner whose intentions were both good and bad.

It is not surprising that my key indicator for evaluating US foreign policy in the region is not the daily death toll but the Iraqi economic numbers. If the Iraqi economy can expand and spread the wealth, the terrorists worldwide will have lost not only the battle but the war.

The other stuff in the report does not reveal any new insight and looks pretty routine. The omission of the words Islam and Muslim in the report is interesting. I tend to view terrorists as Muslim and as perverting the teachings of Islam to justify their violence. This leaves the non-terrorist Muslims with quite a dilemma. How do you support change on your “entrenched grievances” without supporting terrorists? Rephrasing this question in a more proactive manner we get something like this. What progress have we made in separating terrorism from meaningful changes on “entrenched grievances” ? Considering the lack of facts that are not already available in the press or internet, this report could have been written by almost any journalist or blogger. It is amazing that this report got so much hype.