Merchant of Death
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Blood from Stones

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The Growing Fragmentation of the Islamist Structures
One of the extremely significant and accelerating factor in the current development of Islamist groups is the rapid and visible fragmentation of the various _jihadist_ infrastructures.

It seems clear that Iran is increasingly willing to aid non-state armed group, even if they are Sunni. Such seems to be the case with Hamas in Gaza and possibly elements of the al Qaeda structure in Iraq. Of course, this is in addition to the Iranian support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, its alliance of convenience with the secular Syrian power structure, its growing influence in nationalist/leftist governments in Latin America and its alleged aid to Salafist/Sunni groups in Somalia.

Another interesting example is Hezbollah's unwillingness to join the armed confrontation with the Sunni/salafist Fatah Islam militants inside the Nahr el-Bared camp. In the past Hezbollah has had a very low tolerance for other armed groups operating in its territory. Now they seem to be not lifting a finger to expel the group or help the government expel them. Quite an interesting attitude.

What is equally clear is that the push for the armed Islamist movement starting NOW, rather than as a gradual, evolutionary process, is winning the day. The old guard of nationalist/secular groups is effectively over. Fatah is the clearest example.

But so is the waning power of corrupt and empty states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt to successfully back, at this point, Islamist movements that do not rely almost entirely on violence and the core _jihadist_ tenets of recreating the caliphate and the eradication of Israel.

As I wrote earlier, this phenomenon of the rising armed _jihadist_ movement is creating a difficult situation for the Muslim Brotherhood, which, while advocating the same tenets, has successfully created a niche for itself in the West as the ones following a political program with a long-term horizon.

Funding for "defensive jihad" was easy, in faraway places. But as the number of actions has multiplied the pressure to become more directly involved in the wars (rather than maintaining the masquerade of funding charities and social networks) will likely grow, or the groups will lose relevance.

One of the most interesting parts of the Hamas military triumph was the explicit recognition of the role of international Muslim Brotherhood in the success of the recent fighting.

As quoted in the Toronto Globe and Mail,Sheik Yazeeb Khader, a Hamas newspaper editor, said that Hamas had learned from the success of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement. Hezbollah used a network of tunnels to smuggle weapons into position ahead of its war last summer against Israel.

"We buy weapons from every source. Everybody wonders where Hezbollah gets its weapons; same with the resistance in Afghanistan and Iraq," Mr. Khader said. "Because we are a resistance movement, we can buy weapons from the devil. We buy weapons from every source, and we buy all the weapons we can get our hands on."

Mr. Khader gave credit to the international Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, for "never being stingy" in providing financial and other aid to the Palestinian wing.

With hot wars in the West Bank, Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, Somalia and parts of Central Asia, it is increasingly hard to argue for a political plan of take over that could take decades, and this may be first public admission of serious changes underway in the Brotherhood thinking.

While policy makers here and in Israel and Europe know and understand the old guard and are used to dealing with them, they are hardly relevant any more. So new ideas on how to deal with whom (if one wants to deal with those with real power).

Understanding how the groups fragment and coalesce into new, often short-lived alliances, will be of vital importance in mapping the enemy's networks. Unfortunately, we do not have the human resources or creative thinking to really dig into this.
Monzar al Kassar and the Criminal/Terrorist Nexus
The Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas) Now Faces Difficult Decisions
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