Stratfor and Nia Peeples

Friday, February 24, 2012
In tandem with George Freidman's last Stratfor article, The State of the World: A Framework, which discussed the evolving geopolitics on a global scale, Scott Stewart discusses the evolution of terrorism from the cold war, through the al Qaeda ascendance, and into the modern era of 'lone wolf' style, grass roots terrorism.

The beginning of Scott's article is excerpted below, and at the end of the excerpt is a link to the full article. 

For the article's Hot Stratfor babe I carefully pondered the matter for several hours until I decided that the perfect choice would be Nia Peeples for her role as a terrorist in the film Half Past Dead.

At least I think Ms Peeples played a terrorist in the movie. She may have been a criminal mastermind instead. You'll understand, since it was a Steven Seagal movie such minor plot details are not always spelled out as clearly as one would expect, but I'm pretty sure she was a terrorist.

In the film Seagal plays a zen spouting, and at this stage in his career somewhat blimpish, FBI agent who has infiltrated the sooper-dooper, maximum security New Alcatraz prison for some reason or another. While that's going on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shows up to witness the execution of a prisoner who stole $200 million dollars in gold bars.

Before the execution can take place some terrorists, or perhaps they're criminals, with Nia Peeples as their Eeeevil 2nd-in-command demonstrate that New Alcatra's security wasn't all that it was cracked up to be by parachuting in and taking over. The Supreme Court justice ends up strapped into the electric chair instead.

Surprisingly, instead of gathering around to hoot and applaud the frying of the Chief Justice like you would think hardened convicts might do, the prisoners are roused into action to try to save the prison from the terrorists who have captured it. I guess they figure New Alcatraz is their Hood, and nobody messes with their Hood. Or maybe the movie just doesn't make any sense.

Half Past Dead was the last movie Seagal starred in to have a theatrical release. From that point on it was straight to DVD for the films he cranked out. Meanwhile, Nia continues to be busy as she bounces from TV to B-Movies. 

By the way, unless you -- as I do -- find Steven Seagal movies to be a guilty pleasure, I wouldn't recommend watching Half Past Dead. It's a terrible movie with an absurd plot, bad dialog and lousy acting.

The Myth of the End of Terrorism

By Scott Stewart, February 23, 2012

In this week's Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman discussed the geopolitical cycles that change with each generation. Frequently, especially in recent years, those geopolitical cycles have intersected with changes in the way the tactic of terrorism is employed and in the actors employing it.

The Arab terrorism that began in the 1960s resulted from the Cold War and the Soviet decision to fund, train and otherwise encourage groups in the Middle East. The Soviet Union and its Middle Eastern proxies also sponsored Marxist terrorist groups in Europe and Latin America. They even backed the Japanese Red Army terrorist group. Places like South Yemen and Libya became havens where Marxist militants of many different nationalities gathered to learn terrorist tradecraft, often instructed by personnel from the Soviet KGB or the East German Stasi and from other militants.

The Cold War also spawned al Qaeda and the broader global jihadist movement as militants flocking to fight the Soviet troops who had invaded Afghanistan were trained in camps in northern Pakistan by instructors from the CIA's Office of Technical Services and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Emboldened by the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and claiming credit for the subsequent Soviet collapse, these militants decided to expand their efforts to other parts of the world.

The connection between state-sponsored terrorism and the Cold War ran so deep that when the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union's collapse, many declared that terrorism had ended as well. I witnessed this phenomenon while serving in the Counterterrorism Investigations Division of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in the early 1990s. While I was in New York working as part of the interagency team investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a newly appointed assistant secretary of state abolished my office, declaring that the DSS did not need a Counterterrorism Investigations Division since terrorism was over.

Though terrorism obviously did not end when the Berlin Wall fell, the rosy sentiments to the contrary held by some at the State Department and elsewhere took away the impetus to mitigate the growing jihadist threat or to protect diplomatic facilities from it. The final report of the Crowe Commission, which was established to review the twin August 1998 bombing attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, explicitly noted this neglect of counterterrorism and security programs, as did the 9/11 Commission report.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered a shift in international geopolitics by leading the United States to concentrate the full weight of its national resources on al Qaeda and its supporters. Ironically, by the time the U.S. government was able to shift its massive bureaucracy to meet the new challenge, creating huge new organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, the efforts of the existing U.S. counterterrorism apparatus had already badly crippled the core al Qaeda group. Though some of these new organizations played important roles in helping the United States cope with the fallout of its decision to invade Iraq after Afghanistan, Washington spent billions of dollars to create organizations and fund programs that in hindsight were arguably not really necessary because the threats they were designed to counter, such as al Qaeda's nuclear briefcase bombs, did not actually exist. As George Friedman noted in the Geopolitical Weekly, the sole global superpower was badly off-balance, which caused an imbalance in the entire global system.

With the continued diminution of the jihadist threat, underscored by the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden and the fall in Libya of the Gadhafi regime (which had long employed terrorism), once again we appear on the brink of a cyclical change in the terrorism paradigm. These events could again lead some to pronounce the death of terrorism.

Several developments last week served to demonstrate that while the perpetrators and tactics of terrorism (what Stratfor calls the "who" and the "how") may change in response to larger geopolitical cycles, such shifts will not signal the end of terrorism itself.

Read the rest of The Myth of the End of Terrorism at Stratfor.