Glenn L. Carle "was a member of the CIA's Clandestine Service for 23 years and retired in March 2007 as deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats." In "Overstating Our Fears" in the Washington Post, July 13, he says this:
We do not face a global jihadist "movement" but a series of disparate ethnic and religious conflicts involving Muslim populations, each of which remains fundamentally regional in nature and almost all of which long predate the existence of al-Qaeda.
In a circulating e-mail, LTC Joseph Myers, who has served at the Defense Intelligence Agency as the Chief of the South America Division and Senior Military Analyst for Colombia from 1997-2000, responds:
This helps explain to me why we have strategically failed in the current war to identify the enemy and understand and template his threat doctrine and why seven years into the "global war on terror," we don't have a global threat model for it.
It is because, apparently, key CIA leadership responsible for "global threat" analysis has concluded that we have no "global" threat:We do not face a global jihadist "movement" but a series of disparate ethnic and religious conflicts involving Muslim populations, each of which remains fundamentally regional in nature and almost all of which long predate the existence of al-Qaeda.
So the underlying conditions of regional, ethnic and internecine struggles within the Muslim community are the problems we face. And the CIA theory for the war on terror is that we do not face a "global jihadist 'movement.'"
But what information does Mr. Carle marshal to defeat the oppositional theory that we are indeed facing a global jihad? None in this article.
Could his thesis and theory be tested by elaborating the al-Qaida doctrines, such as was done by [Jihad Watch's] Raymond Ibrahim in his book The al-Qaida Reader or by Stephen Coughlin, formerly of the Joint Staff J-2, and align al-Qaida's religious arguments against classic Islamic doctrines to show and prove that al-Qaida's doctrines are deformations and distortions of Islamic law and classical teaching?
Certainly Mr. Carle's model is simple and recognizable: regionalism and ethnicity, no need then to delve into ideology or religion, but sound intelligence analysis is not simply looking at and evaluating only the information that supports your conclusions.
Has the CIA conducted such a countervailing test and evaluation of their theory of the GWOT? They must have, by Mr. Carle's assertion. If no, then Mr Carle has no basis to make the claim he is making and undermines his argument that we are only confronting disgruntled bands of Muslims.
Secondly, Mr. Carle reveals a certain ignorance when he conflates the concept of "jihad" with those seeking to do violence to the US homeland. If he truly understood and has studied Islam, Islamic doctrines of warfare, Islamic law and jihad, then the diverse nature of jihad and sources of threat to the American homeland and national security would be clearer -- we do not face threats solely from those violent actors.
This is an example of letting policy drive your analysis. Since our policy is attack-focused and oriented on preventing attack threats, we circumvent the analysis of everything leading up to the attack event and do not trace it to its roots.
Thusly we short-circuit our intelligence preparation of the battlefield process. We do not analyze and template the "radicalization process" for what it reveals.
One thing for sure is in national security, if your theory of reality is wrong, then your courses of action to that point are going to be wrong too -- or at least imprecise and incomplete.
And he was the NIO for transnational threats. For me, I am glad Mr. Carle is retired. Positions like that require creative thinkers and analysts; what is written here reveals neither.