Over at Current Intelligence, I have an essay discussing whether Uzbeks are scary the world over:
We’ve discussed before the weird tendency to blame all Uzbeks for a few dozen Uzbek crazies in the mountains of Pakistan. But in the Norway case, it was the Uzbek of the group that was informing the police about what they were planning (in a bit of a cheeky move, the Norwegian police are charging the Uzbek anyway, for planning to commit terror before he turned informant). It remains unclear just how close these three were to committing an attack of some sort, just as it’s unclear (to me at least) where the line is drawn between conspiracy to do something and thought crime.
But what of the Uighur? The Chechens? Are they worthy of our fear? Probably not. Seventeen Uighurs were held at Guantanamo Bay after an American court declared them innocent of all terror charges; despite that, American pundits like Newt Gingrich accused them of terrorism, following al Qaeda, and being scary Islamists anyway (many condemned Gingrich’s rant as baseless racism). The Norwegian Uighur stands accused of committing terrorism, though. Famous Islamist terrorism researchers like Thomas Hegghammer have speculated about why Norway might be a target, but even he admits most of his ideas aren’t very satisfactory.
Slightly outside our focus here, but still relevant, I think, to what we look at. Much more immediately relevant to what we discuss is an interview I gave tonight to BBC Radio4’s The World Tonight, discussing U.S. plans for the latest local defense forces concept. Audio can be found here, about 35 minutes in. I’m VERY happy with the quality of Skype.