Islamic extremism: Two lessons learned

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Last year marked the 25th anniversary of what could be argued as the initial call for war against the west by Islamic extremists. The strategy behind it has served as the playbook for violent and repressive jihadists—and the groups under which they unite—to overtake our civilization and establish a worldwide caliphate. A review of the tactics, techniques, and procedures reveals that when it comes to achieving its strategic plan, the United States’ most dangerous adversary is winning.

It started with a document designated as an exploratory memorandum titled “On The General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” That group? The Muslim Brotherhood. Though it describes itself as a political organization, the Muslim Brotherhood currently stands in the on-deck circle awaiting designation as a terrorist organization by the United States government. Hiding under a political moniker, much of the group’s mantra has long served as the inspiration for the Bin Ladens and al-Baghdadis of this world—a mantra centered around its stated goal of establishing an Islamic state as the basis of human civilization.


And not through peaceful means, whereby people will be exposed to any of the good preached in Islam so they can choose the life for themselves, mind you.

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It was in 1991 that they moved toward qualifying these plans further via 18 pages with a five-phase approach to infiltrate, expand, and dominate. Each step building on the last, the plan comprises (1) secretly establishing a leadership cadre, (2) expanding a presence in the public eye via infiltrating government at all levels and garnering public support and sympathy, (3) increasing public exposure through various acts that generate mass media attention, (4) escalating public confrontations and preparing via training for “zero-hour,” and finally, (5) the seizure of power to establish an Islamic nation.

Credit them for not only building upon the success of previous phases, but also for developing new tactics and adapting to our countermeasures.

Have to take off your shoes going through security at the airport? No problem for Mr. Would-be Suicide Bomber. He’ll just drop some explosives down his trousers. Driving a truck through a crowd of people to mow down innocent civilians? The concept itself is nothing new, but the way in which it was executed showed their recognition of blockade measures. And now, just this week, we have reports that ISIS is entering the drone space as a countermeasure. Just a few short years ago, that notion was laughable.

Brandon Blackburn is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and former CIA Counterterrorism Officer with a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and an MBA with a concentration in International Business. During his time with the CIA, Brandon served multiple tours in the Middle East, to include Iraq and Jordan, and in Afghanistan.

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