How to create your very own terrorist state

How to create your very own terrorist state

Tim Coles takes us through 11 steps necessary to create a “terrorist state”. Using Yemen as a case study, he argues that these steps precisely match US and British policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran as well as Yemen to grow “very poisonous seeds”, some which have ripened while others are ripening.

So, you want to create your own terrorist state, do you? Follow these simple instructions and you will be able to grow “very poisonous seeds. These seeds are growing now. Some have ripened and others are ripening,” as Eqbal Ahmad explained.1

In 2002, the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy(NSS) made it clear that America, with Britain’s help, intends to increase terrorism by chasing terrorists around the world instead of capturing them, or, better still, addressing their grievances – this is the real world, after all, which is dominated by financial interests, so there’s no time for rational solutions here.2 The NSS reads: “The United States and countries cooperating with us must not allow the terrorists to develop new home bases. Together, we will seek to deny them sanctuary at every turn.”3

“When terrorism occurs, Britain and America … have the perfect excuse to invade, isolate, impose sanctions on and/or corrupt the given country, as we see in Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere.”

The policy of giving terrorists no “haven”, rather than working to end terrorism, gives the US and Britain the excuse to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars”4 by chasing terrorists around the globe and, more worryingly, to actually cause terrorism.5 When terrorism occurs, Britain and America then have the perfect excuse to invade, isolate, impose sanctions on and/or corrupt the given country, as we see in Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere. Under Obama, this horrendous pretext to achieve “full spectrum dominance” was expanded.6 So, here is how to create your own terrorist State, using Yemen as an example. This will come in handy as a pretext to invade or impose sanctions on the country of your choosing later on as a continuation of your plans for “full spectrum dominance”.

Step 1: Make sure you have a media and an education system sophisticated enough to omit what your country does to others, but emphasize what other countries do to you.7 This will enable your domestic population to hate the people of the other country, allowing you to pursue your agenda without the risk of being overthrown by your own population. In 2002-03, unprecedented numbers of protestors demonstrated in London against the Iraq war. This could be dangerous for future wars because the public might one day try to overthrow you. Therefore, domestic subversion is also a good tactic if you can do it.

Step 2: Select a country that has suffered under your colonial rule in the past. Aden, now Yemen, was occupied by the British in 1839. In 1947, the Amir of Dhala’s son, Haidan, led an uprising which was crushed with overwhelming firepower from Britain’s Royal Air Force. In a study for the RAND Corporation, Bruce Hoffman explained:

No sooner than the threat from Haidan been neutralized than trouble erupted from another tribe, in the nearby village of Al Husein… Once again punishment was applied from the air. Four Mosquitoes and three Tempests from No. 8 Squadron were ordered to destroy the village. The rocket and cannon air strike, the after-action report stated, “was most impressive and awe-inspiring, and the attack undoubtedly made an impression not easily forgotten.8

Step 3: Make sure that your selected country has a neighbour across the sea, or on its border, which has also suffered under your colonial rule. You will need to do this for Step 7 later on. In 1925, the colonial administrator, Douglas Jardine, not to be confused with the cricketer, explained the geostrategic importance of Aden and British Somaliland, now Somalia:

Berbera, the capital [of Somaliland], is but 160 miles across the Gulf from Aden, and is, therefore, but 12 days distance from London and six from Bombay. It cannot be said that this proximity to our main imperial trade route has been of much benefit to the protectorate in the past; but it might prove at any time to be of incalculable value.9

Indeed, it turned out “to be of incalculable value”. Another colonialist, H.B. Kittermaster, explained: “The dry coastal climate makes the [Somaliland] Protectorate as good as Aden for the production of salt. This is already being done in a primitive way by the natives, and negotiations are now in progress with a British syndicate to develop the industry scientifically.”10 Today, the countries are more generally used along the oil trading routes.11

Step 4: Now that you have chosen a country, in close proximity to its exploited neighbour, you’ll want to ensure that the suffering inflicted upon it had continued throughout the course of, say, one hundred years. This is long enough to foster intergenerational resentment and hatred of your own country. Britain’s “establishment of the Middle East Command (MEC) headquarters in Aden in 1960 helped fuel the fires of revolution”, Stephen Dorril explained in his history of MI6.

The 1962 Defence White Paper, “The Next Five Years”, stated that Britain would continue to back the local sultans in South Yemen and the Gulf, and that the Aden base would be the permanent headquarters of this strategy… Aden was to be one of the three key points in Britain’s global military deployment… Fifty thousand Lee Enfield rifles were shipped from the UK to Yemeni royalists. According to the 21st SAS Volunteers Commander Richard Pirie, the mercenaries deployed in Yemen were paid GBP 250 per month from the Foreign Office and from the MoD [Ministry of Defence].12

British and Scottish mercenaries were paid GBP 100,000 a year to launch a chemical war against the population which resulted in the slaughter of 200,000 Yemenis, largely in defence of what was then an oil refinery run by the British.13

Step 5: Now that you have fostered enough resentment and ruined a country’s chance of socio-economic recovery, you might want to try betraying even the mercenary elements of that country attempting to side with you. In 1979, America and Britain began funding, arming and training the Afghan mujahideen in order “to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap”, to quote US President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski.14 This worked. Russia and the mujahideen ruined Afghanistan – and out of the ashes rose the Taliban, whom Britain and America supported almost up to 9/11.15 Britain’s leading independent terror specialist, Jason Burke, documented how many of the more fascistic elements of the mujahideen were Yemenis who “had distinguished themselves at the battle of Jalalabad in 1989”. By 1992, however, the US had not supported those factions who were outraged by the intricacies of the unification of the Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.16

Step 6: Capture and torture people from all over the world in a prison such as Guantanamo Bay. Deny them habeas corpus: no charge; no trial; no representation; no right to a lawyer; no right to visits from friends, relatives or the Red Cross; and do so for an indefinite period.17 Select people whose religion is the same as those in the terrorist state you are looking to create (in this case Islam). This will create a sense a kinship among those you are turning into enemies. This will make the enemies seem more closely knit, yet from varying countries, giving your country the excuse to invade country after country. Also, use your media to dehumanize the captives, making them seem guilty without evidence.18 Once you have traumatized those prisoners of the same religion – which your education system regards as incompatible with modernity19 – release them to the country you wish to turn into a terrorist state. They may all get together and plot revenge which you can then use to justify attacking the country. In 2009, Barack Obama began releasing former Guantanamo Bay hostages to Yemen.20

Step 7: Destroy the stabilizing government of the neighbouring country. In 2006, Britain and America supported Somali warlords, such as Abdullah Yusuf, who invaded Somalia in order to overthrow the emerging government (the Union of Islamic Courts) and replace them with a fascist government nobody wanted (the Transitional Federal Government, or TFG). The TFG then launched a campaign of famine, torture and violence so extreme that hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled across the sea to seek refuge in Yemen, with tens of thousands fleeing each year.21 Once you have ruined the neighbouring country, poor, displaced, oppressed, Muslim refugees will flock to the country you are trying to turn into a terrorist state (Yemen). Here, clerics in madrassas [religious schools] will have a constituency of desperate people whom they can radicalize and turn into future terrorists, as happened in Pakistan in the 1980s when millions of Afghans fled from Soviet troops and the mujahideen (as we saw in Step 5), many of whom became the Taliban in the early 1990s.

Step 8: Murder people without charge or trial in both countries with new, super-weaponry, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones). This will terrorize and radicalize the population of the country you are trying to turn into a terrorist state. Hopefully, your media will attempt to vindicate the drone attacks by either not reporting them or else uncritically quoting officials who claim that the drones target terrorists. Without journalists challenging these official statements, the public may assume that they are correct. (This is happening in more and more countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Somalia and possibly even Haiti).

Step 9: Omit as much of the previous steps as you can from public knowledge via the media and education system of your own country. This will make any action from the country you are trying to turn into a terrorist state seem unprovoked, giving you the chance to invade as an act of self-defence. It will also allow you to carry on without your public overthrowing you (as mentioned in Step 1). Also, get your media to make meaningless statements about the country you are trying to turn into a terrorist state, such as “Osama Bin Laden’s grandfather was born there”,22 or “the failed Christmas underpants bomber (Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab) was radicalized there by the cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi” – even though Abdulmuttallab’s father informed the FBI of his son’s radicalization months before, which the FBI ignored23 – or, “Nidal Malik Hasan, the major who killed several of his colleagues at a US base, was radicalized there”24 – even though this was not terrorism because they were military targets.

Step 10: Wait for a terrorist attack to occur, in the country itself, against a British national stationed there, such as an ambassador who had previously worked in another country you helped to destroy.

When the British ambassador to Yemen, Tim Torlot (who had worked for the British government in Iraq) was attacked in April 2010, the “left” and “right” media leapt at the chance to emphasize how dangerous Yemen is to Britain (for which we planned in Step 1).

Careful reading shows that few newspapers actually revealed their sources. The Independent revealed a source, namely that the Yemeni Interior Ministry said the attack “bore all the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda”,25 but as Britain and America are training and funding the Yemeni government and secret services, any information provided by them is biased.26 The Independent also revealed that the primary sources for the incident are “Yemeni newspapers [which] cite anonymous security sources” to name the bomber as Osman Ali Noman Asaloi. In other words, it could be a total fabrication.27

The Guardian alleged that some Al-Qaeda members fled Yemen to Somalia via Aden.28 Perhaps they bumped into the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing from the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government?

The Times reported that “no group claimed responsibility for the attack”, yet the press, basing their information on the Yemeni government, blamed Al-Qaeda. The Times also admitted that “terrorism is merely a symptom of Yemen’s overwhelming problems”,29 but did not mention that they began in 1839, when Britain invaded, and continue up to the present. This emphasizes the importance of Step 2.

The Telegraph reported: “The Interior Ministry later stated: “This operation reflects the state of despair which has hit the terrorists after the painful pre-emptive strikes which they received in their hideouts at the hands of security services”, which are being trained and funded by the US and Britain, one might add, but this offers no evidence that the victims are “terrorists”.30

Step 11: Now sit back and wait for the country to boil over into extreme violence, making sure you poke the bear with sticks, such as increased drone attacks and security raids by the puppet government being armed and trained by your own.

After a few years, you will have yourself a nice terrorist state. Later, academics can refer to the country as a “failed state”, perhaps even invoking your “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), omitting, of course, exactly why it has become a “failed state” and why one needs to exercise R2P. While your domestic population assumes that you are either incompetent or out there to combat terrorism, you can secure energy routes or raw resources. As Liam Fox, the defence secretary of the 2010 Liberal Democrat-Conservative “coalition” government, explained:

In the years ahead energy security, economic security and national security will be inextricably linked. If we want to ensure that we can keep the lights on in Britain then we need to develop a comprehensive energy strategy. It is simply a matter of risk management. Such a strategy will need to have three components: diversity in the type of fuels we use; diversity in the geographical sources of those fuels; and the security structures that will guarantee the safe transport of these fuels.31


1. Ahmad, E., 2002, Terrorism: Theirs and Ours, NY: Seven Stories Press.

2. On how US corporations funded Hitler, for example, see C. Simpson, 1995, The Splendid Blond Beast: Money, Law, and Genocide in the Twentieth Century, ME: Common Courage Press.

3. “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America”, September 2002, Washington, DC: Government Printing.

4. Donnelly, T., “Rebuilding America’s Defences”, September 2000, Washington, DC: The Project for the New American Century.

5. Bergen, P. and P. Cruickshank, “The Iraq Effect”, Mother Jones, 1 March 2007. This study proves that terrorism increased exponentially after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

6. See the US Space Command, “Vision for 2020”, February 1997, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Vision 2020, 2000, for details of the official commitment to “full spectrum dominance”. See Obama’s Quadrennial Defence Review Report, 2010, to illustrate the commitment to expand “full spectrum dominance” in various ways.

7. See, for example, Edwards, D. and D. Cromwell, 2010, Newspeak in the 21st Century, London: Pluto Press.

8. Hoffman, B., 1989, British Air Power in Peripheral Conflict 1919-1976, Washington, DC: RAND.

9. Jardine, D., “Somaliland: The Cinderella of the Empire”, Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol. 24, No. 94, January 1925, pp.100-109.

10. Kittermaster, H.B., “British Somaliland”, Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol. 27, No. 108, July,1928, pp.329-337.

11. See, for example, Cabinet Office, “The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom: Update 2009: Security for the Next Generation”, June 2009, London: Stationary Office, Ltd, and Wicks, M., “Energy Security: A national challenge in a changing world”, Department of Energy and Climate Change, August 2009, London: BIS Publications.

12. Dorril, S., 2000, MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations, London: The Fourth Estate, pp. 676-9.

13. Ibid.

14. Pilger, J., 2006, Freedom Next Time, London: Black Swan, pp. 365-6.

15. Rashid, A., 2010, Taliban, London: I.B. Tauris.

16. Burke, J., 2004, Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam, London: Penguin, p. 141.

17. See any number of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Cageprisoners, Red Cross reports, etc.

18. The BBC journalist Robin Aitken, for example, wrote: “in late 2003 the [BBC’s] ‘Today’ programme became obsessed with the ‘human rights’ of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. At one daily planning meeting I argued that ‘human rights’ are contingent and that fanatical Islamists cannot expect to be treated as innocent victims”. Aitken, 2007, Can We Trust the BBC?, London: Continuum, p. 61-Aitken’s answer is, yes, as long as it espouses ultra-right views.

19. See, for instance, Samuel Huntington, 1998, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, NY: Touchstone. For a refutation of these ridiculous views, see Gilbert Achcar, 2006 (2nd), The Clash of Barbarisms, Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.

20. Coghlan, T., “Freed Guant?namo inmates are heading for Yemen to join Al-Qaeda fight”, The Times, 5 January 2010. For an Establishment view of the stupidity of this, see G.D. Johnsen and C. Boucek, “The Dilemma of the Yemeni Detainees at Guantanamo Bay”, Combating Terrorism Centre Sentinel (West Point), Vol. 1, Issue 12, November 2008.

21. For details and sources, see my “Somalia Still Suffers”, Z Magazine, July 2010.

22. Hughes, C., “Our man in Yemen survives ‘schoolboy’ suicide bomber”, Daily Mirror, 27 April, 2010.

23. Black, I., “Al-Qaida: A clear and present danger”, Guardian, 27 April 2010.

24. Sengupta, K., “Intervention in Yemen has come too late to halt slide to extremism”, Independent, 27 April 2010.

25. Taylor, J., “Suicide attack on British ambassador to Yemen”, Independent, 27 April 2010.

26. Macleod, H., “UK ambassador in Yemen escapes assassination attempt”, Guardian, 27 April 2010.

27. Taylor.

28. Macleod.

29. The Times, “Yemen’s Terror: Donors to the poorest country in the region must act on their commitment”, 27 April 2010.

30. Spencer, R. and M. al-Shorabi, “Ambassador to Yemen escapes ‘schoolboy’ suicide bombing”, Daily Telegraph, 27 April 2010.

31. Liam Fox, “Liam Fox speech at Chatham House on defence and energy security”, Chatham House, October 2006.

Tim Coles is a writer and filmmaker.


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