What happens after the detention of a terrorist suspect, or otherwise, largely depends on the capturing force. However, regardless of who conducts the operation, time is perhaps the most critical element.
Not only are the capturers uncertain of other potential or imminent plans, but perhaps more importantly, each tick on the clock represents further opportunity for the suspect to cement a fictional story in his or her head, making the interrogator’s job all the more difficult. This in turn brings us to the obvious regarding swift information acquisition to further hinder any imminent threats.
Quite frequently, in the case of fighting Islamic extremists, individuals do not allow themselves to be captured, opting to instead end their own life in defense of the cause. While the removal of a high value target from the battlefield is always positive, the loss of intelligence by not being able to conduct an interrogation can prove detrimental.
In cases where individuals are detained, the lion share of hardened Islamic extremists, even with all elements of the capture, including time, falling in the capturer’s favor, are so ardent in their beliefs that they will not cave to pressure from the interrogating officer or service.
With regards to the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey, a lot remains unknown. Authorities took several individuals into custody before ultimately releasing five and focusing their efforts on one, Ahmad Khan Rahami, a twenty-eight-year-old Afghan American who was detained after a brief manhunt and subsequent shootout with Linden, New Jersey police officers. However, despite the events leading up to his capture, Rahami’s level of commitment to ISIS, or radical Islam in general, is undefined. While this may sound like a senseless statement given his violent actions, the fact remains that he may very well be a susceptible individual who was simply inspired by ISIS, vice directed, and thus more likely to willingly provide information. The result is the same regarding his actions and consequences, the interrogation process, however, varies greatly.
While the removal of a high value target from the battlefield is always positive, the loss of intelligence by not being able to conduct an interrogation can prove detrimental.
My fear is the process will likely end with the facts determining that Rahami acted alone on account of inspiration by extremists abroad, thus making our ability to disrupt future plans and other cells all the more difficult.
By a Senior OpsLens Contributor