Everything is a Network

Back in 2001, John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt at RAND wrote a monograph entitled “Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy” wrote on the future wave of conflict and organization around the concept of “Netwar”:

What distinguishes netwar as a form of conflict is the networked organizational structure of its practitioners—with many groups actually being leaderless— and the suppleness in their ability to come together quickly in swarming attacks. The concepts of cyberwar and netwar encompass a new spectrum of conflict that is emerging in the wake of the information revolution.

Indeed, Bill Clinton spoke in 1998 warning of “reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals.” (Empahsis Mine, link here). Back then, Bill Clinton was speaking of Iraq as part of an “unholy axis” network.

But the network is everywhere, not just in Clinton’s Unholy Axis of Iraq, network-based warefare, the Seattle Protest, or in modern logistical chains (think Amazon.com, Dell or FedEx). It is in flash mobbing, online collobration software (writely), social networking web sites like del.icio.us, LinkedIn to more obsecure ones like Coastr (Beer Social Networking).

Today, the CounterTerror blog has two back-to-back articles relating the “network” to security issues:

1) North Korean Counterfeit Ring:

The leader of the gang, Sean Garland [is the leader of “the old style IRA”]. Allegedly, the profits from the illegal enterprise went back into the Official IRA. The indictment is the result of a long investigation through the Russian Mafia – one of the defendants is Russian, and Garland allegedly traveled to Russia, Belarus, and Poland often – and found the gang using false identities, dummy couriers, codewords, money laundering techniques, and secure communication methods. No North Koreans were named, but the indictment states that “North Korean nationals acting as ostensible government officials engaged in the worldwide transportation, delivery, and sale of quantities” of the $100 bills. Last month, the Washington Times reported on the arrest of a Taiwanese national who was involved in the counterfeiting scheme. (Emphasis Mine)

Official IRA, Russian Mafia, and Taiwanese National all invovled in a sophisticated international mony laundering/counterfeiting scheme with North Korea. Andd this links back to what is North Korea and the IRA doing with the money? What are they buying and where from?

2) Iraq: Insurgest, Terrorist and Organized Crime:

Hezbollah-style explosives are being used in Iraq by Zarqawi’s group, bringing new sophistication and lethality to many of the operations; cars stolen in the United States are turning up as vehicles used in suicide attacks in Iraq, shipped from the West Coast to Syria, then driven into Iraq; possible ties, now the subject of several investigations in Europe, of important leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, through leading European banks, to laundering large sums of drug money for radical Islamic groups. Much of this appears to be coordinated through activities in the tri-border area of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as Panama and Isla Margarita off the Venezuelan coast. (Empahsis Mine)

In Iraq, we are not only fighting insurgest and terrorist from former Baathist or neighbouring Arab fundamentalist, but also a stolen car/smuggling network in the West Coast of the USA, drug money from Islamist group with European Banks as conduits, and a network spaning five countries in Latin America.

The Network is Everywhere.

I strongly suggest reading John Robb’s “THE BAZAAR OF VIOLENCE IN IRAQ” and “THE BAZAAR’S OPEN SOURCE PLATFORM“. It is required reading in my book.


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