David Kilcullen on the central concept of his eponymous book:
Interviewer: When did the concept of the “accidental guerrilla syndrome” really start to click?
Kilcullen: It was field observation over ten years or so, but the name came to me one afternoon near the Khyber Pass… My local escort commander pointed out to me that he and his guys were the real foreigners on the Frontier, whereas the al-Qaeda guys had been embedded there for a generation. He said no outsider could tell the locals apart from the terrorists except by accident. And when outsiders intervene to deal with the global terrorists hiding out in areas like the FATA, it turns out people get upset, and the local community coalesces around rejecting outside interference, and closes ranks to support the terrorists….
This has happened in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Europe – basically everywhere I’ve worked since 9/11, I have observed some variation on this pattern. I call the local fighters “accidental guerrillas,” because they end up fighting on behalf of extremists, not because they hate the west but because we just turned up in their valley with a Brigade, looking for AQ. And I calculate 90 to 95 percent of the people we’ve been fighting since 9/11 are accidentals, not radicals.”