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Terrorism and Political Violence


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Religious Intelligence
Ron E. Hassner

Department of Political Science , University of California,


Berkeley , Berkeley , California , USA
Published online: 10 Nov 2011.

To cite this article: Ron E. Hassner (2011) Religious Intelligence, Terrorism and Political Violence,
23:5, 684-710, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2011.598197
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2011.598197

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Terrorism and Political Violence, 23:684710, 2011


Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0954-6553 print=1556-1836 online
DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2011.598197

Religious Intelligence
RON E. HASSNER

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Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley,


Berkeley, California, USA
Sacred rituals and symbols can act as force multipliers that motivate and constrain
the effectiveness of actors. Religious intelligence involves an assessment of how these
rituals and symbols affect combat operations. The fourfold challenge faced by the
religious intelligence analysts is to ascertain how prominent a role religion will play
in a given conflict, what the relevant sacred phenomena are, how salient they are for
the specific religious communities present, and how they will affect a given conflict.
The case studies that form the core of this article highlight three issue areas open to
religious intelligence collection and analysis, and exhibit variation in the ability of
intelligence analysts to correctly assess those religious factors. Egyptian and Israeli
decision making prior to the 1973 Arab-Israeli War illustrates how information
about sacred time can influence war initiation. The diverging outcomes of two
counterinsurgency operations at the same sacred site, Operation Blue Star
(1984) and Operation Black Thunder (1988), demonstrate the utility of intelligence about the parameters of sacred space. A final case study explores the U.S.
failure to grasp the importance of religious authority in the Iranian Revolution. I
conclude by considering the actors best suited for gathering and processing religious
intelligence. Religious intelligence requires interdisciplinary teams that combine
expertise in religion, area studies, and military operations.
Keywords conflict, culture, holy, intelligence, religion, sacred

Introduction
The Sunan Abu-Dawud is one of the most significant collections of hadith, reports on
the deeds of the Prophet Muhammad. Compiled in the 9th century, it is unique in
dedicating an entire volume to the Prophets detailed predictions about the coming
of the mahdi, the Muslim redeemer. One hadith locates the precise spot in which the
mahdi will reveal himself: between the Rukn and the Maqam in the Grand Mosque
in Mecca.1 This pinpoints the site of the redeemers appearance to within several
yards, between the corner of the cuboid shrine at the center of the Grand Mosque
Ron E. Hassner is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the
University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of War on Sacred Grounds (Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press, 2009).
The author thanks Pauletta J. Otis, Dariush Zahedi, Ryan Carroll, and David Patel for
their comments and suggestions. He is extremely grateful to Andrius Galisanka for his outstanding research assistance.
Address correspondence to Ron E. Hassner, Department of Political Science, University
of California, Berkeley, 202 Barrows Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. E-mail: hassner@
berkeley.edu

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in which a meteorite is embedded (Rukn al Aswad), and the Place of Abraham


(Maqam Ibrahim). Another report describes the lineage, appearance, and name of
the redeemer: The Prophet said: The Mahdi will be of my stock, and will have a
broad forehead a prominent nose . . . [his] name will be the same as mine.2 Yet
another narration goes as far as to establish the timing of the mahdis appearance
precisely at the turn of an Islamic century.3
The dawn of a new century is a rare event. The only such instance in the 20th
century occurred on November 20, 1979, the first day of the Muslim year 1400
A.H. It was on that date precisely, and with these prophesies in mind, no doubt, that
a group of armed insurgents presented the mahdi to an astonished crowd of pilgrims
inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The purported mahdi, Muhammad ibn Abd
Allah al-Qahtani, matched the descriptions in the hadith perfectly, Aquiline nose
and all. Standing at the precise spot prophesied by the hadith, the insurgents
demanded allegiance from all those present, denounced the corrupt rule of the Saudi
royal family, and called for the establishment of a traditional Muslim society on the
Saudi peninsula. They then locked the gates of the mosque, trapping thousands of
hostages inside and launching the bloodiest and most protracted hostage crisis in
modern Saudi history.4
The Saudi regime was dumbstruck by the attack. Security forces required three
hours to arrive at the scene.5 Another four days would pass before the government
could secure the religious sanction to launch an all-out attack on the insurgents in
the mosque.6 Given multiple, ambiguous, and often contradictory predictions regarding the appearance of the mahdi in various hadith collections, it would have been
reasonable for the Saudi government to approach the narratives in Sunan Abu-Dawud
with some skepticism. But given the precision with which this source describes this
once-in-a-century event, given the impact of such an event, should it occur, and given
the minimal costs of preparing for this contingency (be it by enhancing security in the
mosque once every one-hundred years, or by preparing an honor guard to welcome
the mahdi), it is difficult to understand the Saudi decision to ignore this information
altogether. The hostage crisis of November 1979 is very much the result of a failure
to gather, evaluate, and act on religious intelligence.
I define religious intelligence as the branch of cultural intelligence responsible for
obtaining and analyzing information about the sacred and its impact on security
operations. Underlying this concept is the assumption that religion pervades all conflicts. The role of religion in conflict is more varied and subtle than studies of fundamentalism, terrorism, and insurgency lead us to believe. Religion can affect
both the initiation of disputes, their conduct, and their aftermath. As I demonstrate
below, religion can play as important a role in interstate wars, police operations, and
revolutions as it does in civil wars, terror campaigns, and counterinsurgencies. It can
do so because participants in these conflicts, radicals and moderates alike, are often
influenced by religious beliefs and practices, including rituals, symbols, superstitions,
and social structures. It is these beliefs and practices that religious intelligence seeks
to expose and analyze.
I begin this article by exploring the role of religion in conflict. I argue that religion can act as a force multiplier that motivates and constrains the effectiveness of
actors. Sacred rituals and sacred symbols can both enhance and inhibit an actors
capabilities. Religious intelligence involves an assessment of how these rituals and
symbolswhether held by an opponent, an audience, or even ones own troops
will affect operations.

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This assessment is bedeviled by four challenges to which I turn in the second part
of this paper. First, analysts must estimate how prominent religious ideas and practices are in a given conflict. The prominence of religion depends on whether religion
defines the cause, the identity of participants, or merely the audience to a dispute.
Second, researchers must rely on religious ideas to determine the centrality of the
sacred phenomena that are relevant for the execution of combat operations. Third,
they must study religious practices in order to evaluate the salience of these factors
for the specific religious communities present. Finally, they need to examine military
practices in order to evaluate the impact of sacred symbols and practices on combat.
In the third section of this article, I explore three of the many issue areas open to
religious intelligence collection and analysis. Information about sacred time, sacred
space, and sacred authority can provide answers to when, where, and who
questions about religion and conflict. The late 20th century case studies that form
the bulk of this paper were chosen to highlight these three sacred phenomena. The
three cases examined here also exhibit interesting variation in the prominence of religion as well as in the ability of intelligence analysts to correctly assess its centrality,
salience, and impact. I begin by investigating the ways in which information about
sacred time can influence war initiation, as illustrated by Egyptian and Israeli
decision making prior to the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The diverging outcomes of
two counterinsurgency operations at the same sacred site, Operation Blue Star
(1984) and Operation Black Thunder (1988), demonstrate the utility of intelligence
about the parameters of sacred space. A third case study explores the perils of faulty
intelligence collection about sacred authority by analyzing U.S. failure to predict the
leading role assumed by Shia clergy in the Iranian Revolution.
I conclude, in the fourth section of this article, by considering the actors best
suited for gathering and processing religious intelligence. Though scholars of religion
and theologians are adept at exposing the prominence and centrality of particular
religious factors, only area experts can account for their contextualized salience,
and only trained military personnel can evaluate their impact on military operations.
This suggests that religious intelligence-gathering and analysis should be conducted
by interdisciplinary teams of experts, such as the Human Terrain Teams currently
piloted by the U.S. military.

Religion and Conflict


Religion pervades all aspects of contemporary conflict. Religious beliefs and practices,
such as the notions of sacred time, sacred space, and sacred authority, can act as force
multipliers, influencing the capabilities of actors engaged in conflict. For example,
religion did not compel U.S. involvement in Iraq but it indirectly influenced planning
and performance by shaping the interests and identities of U.S. troops, their opponents, and third parties. U.S. troops had to contend with the fluctuation of insurgent
attacks during Ramadan, recognize the vulnerability of Shia and Christian communities to sectarian violence during their respective holy days, as well as consider the costs
of initiating operations during dates of religious sensitivity to a broad Muslim audience, both inside and outside of Iraq. At the same time, U.S. troops strove to protect
churches and mosques from assault, while risking condemnation for desecrating holy
sites in which insurgents sought refuge. Throughout, military chaplains, Islamist clerics, and local religious leaders played a key role in the conflict, acting as mediators,
motivators, and interpreters of religious principles relevant to the conduct of war.

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In emphasizing the pervasive effects of religion on contemporary conflict, this


paper seeks to shift the focus in the study of religion and international security away
from a preoccupation with religion as a cause of discord. The attacks of September
2001, and subsequent U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, have focused the
attention of international security scholars on radical non-state actors, primarily
Islamic terrorists and insurgents, who are said to be driven into conflict by religious
ideals.7 The quadruple emphasis on the causal effects of religion for radical, Islamic,
and non-state actors has obscured the manifold effects that various religious traditions have on professional armed forces (including Western militaries) short of
causing war.
International Relations scholars have now turned their attention to the great
variety of ways in which religion can influence conflict. Jonathan Fox and Monica
Toft have documented the effects of religion on the frequency and lethality of civil
wars.8 Michael Horowitz has analyzed how religious beliefs and institutions affect
war duration.9 Sohail Hashmi has demonstrated that religious ethics have shaped
state choices about weapons of mass destruction.10 Isaak Svensson has studied the
effects of religious beliefs on conflict resolution.11 My own work draws attention
to the ways in which religious transgressions, such as desecration and blasphemy,
provoke violence.12
In this article, I define religion and organize typologies around the concept of
the sacred. Religion can be conceptualized in innumerable ways, ranging from a
relationship with God to membership in a community of believers. I choose to follow
in the footsteps of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, who traced the foundation of religion to the distinction between the sacred and the profane.13 According
to Durkheim, all religious beliefs, rites, and places express either the nature of sacred
things or the relationship between sacred and profane things. Religious phenomena
thus divide the universe into two classes, sacred and profane, that embrace all that
exists but exclude one another. These phenomena include sacred rituals, relics, texts,
images, and communities. They also include the three spheres investigated in the
following pages: Sacred time, sacred space, and sacred authority.
One way of understanding the sacred is to identify the functions that it provides
to believers: insight into religious meaning, communication with the divine, receiving
divine favors.14 Only through appropriate relationships with holy places, holy days,
and religious leaders can believers partake fully in the religious experience. Another
way to circumscribe these sacred categories is to explore the rituals and symbols that
distinguish these phenomena from their profane counterparts.15 Believers rely on a
range of practices and prohibitions in order to maintain the distinction between
sacred and secular in matters of time, space, and authority, and emphasize the
unique status of the latter. These can include prayers, ablutions, feasts, fasts, honors,
and status symbols; prohibitions on particular actions, speech, clothing, or attitudes;
and the requirement that practices prohibited in relation to secular time, space, and
authority be committed. Transgressing by eating sacred foods at secular times, omitting gestures of approach when entering a sacred space, or disregarding the rulings of
a prominent cleric, for example, constitute acts of desecration, sacrilege, or blasphemy. The rules regulating these offenses offer yet another way of identifying the
sacred. These categories are distinguished by means of social sanctions attached to
compliance and desecration.16
Because these rituals and symbols are crucial components of the sacred order
that is at the foundation of all religion, they play a central role in the lives of

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R. E. Hassner

individuals and their religious communities. They do not merely constrain actor preferences and strategies in relation to sacred time, space, and authority, but also shape
the meaning of these categories and even influence perceptions of secular time, space,
and authority. By definition, all believers partake in these rituals and symbols, to differing degrees, at all times.
Sanctioned and prohibited rituals and symbols may not have the explicit purpose of regulating or motivating combat but they are nonetheless salient at times
of conflict. In times of war as in times of peace, combatants who share religious
affiliation will wish to partake in ceremonies that honor holy days and will avoid
desecrating holy days by abstaining from prohibited behavior. They will seek to
honor the ordinances governing access to and behavior within sacred sites, and strive
to respect the rules regarding the rights and obligations of religious leaders. At the
same time, the symbolic significance of the sacred can shape the meaning of action
in the presence of sacred space, time, and authority, thus influencing how combatants understand their actions. The sacred thus encourages or discourages participation in conflict, and constrains what participants are and are not willing to do
in the course of conflict. Even when sacred time, space, and authority do not provide
the impetus for disputes, and merely serve as backdrops for conflict, they can
encourage or discourage the use of force.
Sacred rituals may be an asset to aggressors when the rules governing these
rituals constrain the ability of their targets to engage in conflict. For example, if
regard for the sacred requires combatants to indulge in the consumption of intoxicants, or abstain from bearing arms, these demands may heighten their vulnerability
relative to their opponents. Conversely, rituals disadvantage conflict initiators when
their systematic exploitation of religious vulnerabilities provokes outrage in targets
or third parties, or provokes actors into engaging more vigorously in combat.
Sacred symbols can similarly constrain or motivate participants depending on
the meanings derived from sacred place, time, or authority. Sacred times, sites,
and leaders associated with quietism, pacifism, or harmony may inspire reluctance
in an actor contemplating combat. On the other hand, holy days that commemorate
triumphal martyrdom, holy places that honor martial deities and religious leaders
that sanction the use of force, will inspire actors to engage in conflict. The impact
of these symbols on conflict is primarily constitutive, not causal. Religious symbols
do not cause shifts in power directly, but lend context and meaning to conflict. They
act as a force multiplier or divider if participants choose to act on these meanings.
The ability of religious rituals and symbols to act as either force multiplier or
force divider is complicated by the coexistence of sacred phenomena that have incongruous effects. Indeed, even one and the same sacred phenomenon can provoke more
than one response in the same actor or community. It is the task of the religious
intelligence analyst to unravel these forces.

The Religious Intelligence Challenge


Religious intelligence is responsible for obtaining and analyzing information about
sacred phenomena relevant to a conflict situation. Its goals are to predict the effects
of religious beliefs and practices on allies, opponents, and third parties, and provide
an assessment of how those various effects might constrain or facilitate combat.
Failures in religious intelligence analysis stem from four common, if false,
assumptions about the role of religion in conflict. First, religion is not a dichotomous

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variable in conflict. Because religious ideas and practices are present in all disputes to
differing degrees, conflicts cannot be divided into purely religious and secular
types. Second, the role of religion is not limited to ideas. Religious symbols, rituals,
and authority structures shape conflict as well. Third, these ideas and practices do
not always conform to a religious movements orthodoxy or orthopraxy as captured
in formal theology or scripture. They are often local, popular, and eclectic variations
that reflect the preferences or habits of a religious subgroup. Fourth, combatants do
not automatically succumb to religious ideas. Their resilience depends on their
religious identities as individuals and on their organizations discipline.
To guard against these traps, the religious intelligence analysts must ask four
questions. First, how prominent are religious ideas and practices in a given conflict?
Prominence captures the ability of religion to define the cause, the identity of participants, or merely the audience to a dispute. Second, what sacred phenomena are
relevant for the execution of combat operations and what is their formal centrality?
Centrality is determined by religious ideas. Third, how salient are these factors for
the specific religious communities present, given available information about their
idiosyncrasies? Salience is determined by religious practices. Fourth, how are the
particular symbols and practices which this community associates with the sacred
likely to impact combat? Impact is determined by military practices. Each of these
steps deserves a brief discussion.
Prominence
The sacred is particularly prominent when religion acts as a primary motivator of
conflict, as in wars of conversion, disputes over sacred space, or holy wars. In these
settings, participants and observers will permitindeed, rely onreligious symbols
and rituals to play a significant role in regulating violence. Such wars of religion are,
however, few and far between, particularly in the contemporary era.17
A more common setting, in which the sacred plays a less prominent role, is one in
which parties are either self-defined or other-defined based on religious indicators,
regardless of dispute cause.18 In these ethnic or sectarian clashes, the parties draw
on the sacred not to define the purpose of conflict but to determine the fault lines
separating their camps. Religious rituals and symbols act as identifiers, enhance group
cohesion, and provide actors with an auxiliary justification for joining or abstaining
from conflict. Finally, the sacred will play a relatively modest role when only third parties organize or determine their stance in the dispute based on religious principles. In
conflicts such as these, in which religion plays a least prominent role, religious intelligence is unlikely to have a crucial effect on outcomes. In all these cases, the influence of
the sacred falls along a continuum: it motivates conflict more or less, and shapes the
identities of one, two, or more parties and bystanders to varying degrees.
The greater the likelihood that religious considerations will affect combat, the
more vital the contribution of religious intelligence to decision making. The prominence of religion in a given conflict thus determines the extent to which faulty or
accurate religious analysis can sway conflict outcomes.
Centrality
The centrality of sacred time, space, or authority depends on their formal ability to
provide key religious functions to believers. The more central a factor is in the

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religious landscape of the community, the greater its ability to provide access to the
divine by enhancing communication with the gods, manifesting the presence of the
gods, and conveying divine meanings.19 For example, formal Catholic doctrine suggests that believers can hope for a closer experience of God during Easter Mass, in
St. Peters Basilica in Rome, and in the presence of the Pope. These beliefs and practices are formal by virtue of having been enshrined in sacred scripture, validated
through continuous community practice and reverence, and endorsed by the appropriate religious hierarchy.
These sources allow us to rank sacred phenomena by centrality. Formally speaking, sacred sites of primary centrality tend to be those on which some divine revelation or the founding moment of a religious movement has taken place. Mecca is
the most central site in Islam because Allah manifested himself there to the
patriarchs and to Muhammad and because He decreed that this should be the focus
of all prayers. Sites of secondary importance, like the Great Mosques of Cairo,
Damascus, Baghdad, or Istanbul, are located on consecrated ground, chosen by
religious leaders, and imbued with significance by tombs and relics. Sites of tertiary
importance, such as village mosques, mirror more central shrines in design and
orientation. The more central a shrine, the better its utility in providing believers
with religious benefits and the more likely believers are to respond vehemently to
damage or desecration.20
Sacred time can be ranked along similar lines. The more significant the historical
or mythical event commemorated on a sacred day, the greater the importance of the
holy day. Salient dates tend to occur less frequently in the religious calendar, are
often characterized by rules and practices that deviate more significantly from
day-to-day behavior, and are accompanied by stricter penalties for transgression.21
Because of these penalties, as well as the potential favors to be gained on particularly
potent sacred days, significant sacred days can often be recognized by the crowds
they draw to rituals and sacred sites. For example, Jews crowd in synagogues on
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, considered the High Holidays that mark the
beginning of the New Year and a commemoration of creation. Because Jews believe
that God decides individual fates in this period, even secular Jews seek repentance
through fasting and prayer on these days. Passover, which marks the Exodus from
Egypt and which is distinguished by a prohibition on the consumption of leavened
bread, is accorded similar respect. Fewer Jews practice the rites associated with
the Festival of Weeks and the Feast of Booths, and only the most observant participate in rites that mark the new moon.
In religious movements characterized by a hierarchical leadership, such as Catholicism, Shia Islam, or Mormonism, the centrality of a religious actor is determined
by their position in that hierarchy, which in turn depends on their seniority, the
respect they command among peers, and their technical expertise in matters sacred.
In non-hierarchical movements, such as Shintoism, Judaism, or Sunni Islam, centrality is more elusive, often correlating with the ability to attract and lead a religious
community. The more central a religious actor, the greater their ability to interpret
and even manipulate the rules that govern sacred parameters like time and space.
Salience
Contrary to the guidelines above, common practice may well elevate seemingly
inferior sacred times, places, and authorities to a high status depending on their

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salience to a particular religious community. Believers do not practice religion in its


pure form. Religions do not consist of sacred precepts locked in ancient scriptures:
they are lived and dynamic, displaying local idiosyncrasies. These practices are not
deviations from true religion, since no such absolute standard exists. Rather, they
are variants which believers accept as valid and meaningful.22 For example, despite
formal doctrine, many American Christians regard Christmas and Halloween as
highly as they do Easter, if not more so. Since 1981, when the Virgin Mary was said
to have appeared to six children in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, millions of
Catholics have conducted pilgrimages to this Marian Shrine, although it is not
formally recognized by the Vatican. Both Martin Luther and his 20th century
namesake, Martin Luther King, were able to influence the use of violence by their
followers beyond what might be expected of a monk and a pastor.
To further complicate matters, believers will place a higher value on religious
factors if they perceive those to be under threat. Conflict during a sacred day, at a
sacred site, or involving a religious leader can thus serve to enhance the significance
of each of those phenomena. Recognizing the relevance of a religious factor in a
particular social and political setting thus requires a contextualized understanding
of local biases, practices, superstitions, and preferences and how those shift the
official centrality of a given factor.
The botched raid by agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alochol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, on Sunday, February 28, 1993, exemplifies the perils of miscalculating salience. The timing of the
attack was influenced by intelligence from undercover agents who had infiltrated
the Waco compound by posing as members of the sect. These agents reported that
the armory and the chapel were at opposite ends of the Branch Davidian compound
and recommended attacking on Sunday morning because during Sunday morning
prayer service the men were separated from the women and children and from a
cache of weapons.23 The BATFs goal was to time a surprise under conditions
in which Koreshs followers could not get to the weapons so as to minimize the danger of resistance or mass suicide.24 Yet when the BATF agents assaulted the Waco
compound, Koresh and his men were not at prayer. They were waiting, guns in
hand, firing at the intruders from forty different positions inside the compound.25
What had gone wrong?
Branch Davidians are an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventist movement,
named after the pivotal doctrine that Saturday, not Sunday, is the holy day of rest proposed in the bible. The BATF assault proved disastrous, in part, because the intelligence on the sects religious practices that determined the timing of the attack was
fundamentally flawed. Any undergraduate major in religion could have told them that
Seventh-Day Adventists worship on the Sabbath, meaning the seventh day or Saturday, observed one critic, noting the BATFs clumsiness and stupidity.26 Koreshs
followers considered themselves Christians but they also considered Sunday worship
to be a pagan practice that had corrupted the original biblical commandment.27
Since the Waco confrontation was marked by high religious prominence, the
costs of this intelligence blunder were high. Four BATF agents were killed and fourteen were wounded that Sunday, in addition to an unknown number of Branch
Davidians, launching the two-month siege that would culminate in a disastrous conflagration at the compound.28 Insofar as knowledge of sacred time might have aided
in the successful execution of a surprise attack on the Waco compound, Sunday was
simply the wrong choice.

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Impact
Finally, the analyst must translate findings from the religious to the military sphere
in order to assess the impact of religious beliefs and practices on combat operations.
An understanding of salience may suffice to ascertain how civilian observers will
react to conflict at sacred times, in sacred space, or involving sacred authority,
but it will provide inadequate information about how combatants will act in these
circumstances. Determining the military impact of combat involving sacred factors
will require taking into account the distribution of religious identities among combatants (and hence prevailing perceptions of centrality and salience) as well as the
extent to which military discipline mitigates or amplifies religious proclivities.
George Washingtons surprise attack on the Hessian troops in Trenton, New
Jersey, on December 26, 1776, exemplifies how these calculations might affect military planning. The religious significance of the date was certainly not a primary consideration in Washingtons decision to cross the Delaware on December 25.29 We
cannot know for certain, but Washington may have hoped that the Hessian garrison
would be distracted by Christmas celebrations, a distraction that would have contributed a small measure of enemy confusion to an already well-planned surprise
effect. They make a great deal of Christmas in Germany, and no doubt the
Hessians will drink a great deal of beer and have a dance to-night, wrote one officer
in Washingtons staff. They will be sleepy tomorrow morning.30
Though Christmas is a holy day of high centrality for Christians, December 26 is
not. The day after Christmas is, however, a date of significant salience to German
Christians, who celebrate St. Stephens Day.31 Customs associated with this holiday
since the 5th century include heavy communal drinking, known as Stoning
St. Stephen (Stefanus Steinigen), leading Germans to refer to the day as Drunk
Stephen (Supsteffen from Sauf Stefanus).32 Unlike their American counterparts, the Hessians should have celebrated December 26 with drunken revelry.
But if Washington expected to find the Hessian troops still drunk and lying in
their beds after celebrating Christmas,33 he severely underestimated the discipline of
the Hessian garrison. The Hessians were alert and armed on the morning of the
26th.34 Throughout Christmas, they had conducted regular troop rotations and
inspections. Soldiers remained armed and horses harnessed during the holiday.
There is no evidence of excessive celebration or heavy drinking among the Hessians;
only the sick were excused from duty. Though surprised by an attack in the midst of
a snowstorm, they responded rapidly to the arrival of the American forces and
fought effectively.35 If Washington relied on sacred time as the linchpin of his strategic surprise, he miscalculated the impact of the holy day on this particular garrison.

Three Issue Areas


To illustrate the interaction between various requirements for successful religious
intelligence analysis, the following pages examine conflicts in which information
about sacred time, sacred space, and sacred authority affected decision making. I
have chosen to focus on these three aspects of the sacred (rather than on sacred
relics, identities, or discourse, for example) because they provide answers to when,
where, and who questions about religion and conflict. I have selected these
particular cases, from the wealth of 20th century examples available, because they
are dramatic instances that highlight the three sacred phenomena at the core of this

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Table 1. Case studies, variables, and outcomes


1973
War
Phenomenon
Prominence

Sacred time
Low

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Correct assessment of:


Centrality
Salience
Impact
Result

Y
Y
N
Mixed

Amritsar
1984

Amritsar
1988

Sacred space
Medium
Y
N
N
Failure

Y
Y
Y
Success

Iranian
Revolution
Sacred authority
High
N
N
N
Failure

paper. Moreover, these conflicts exhibit interesting variation in the prominence of


religion as well as in the ability of intelligence analysts to correctly assess the centrality, salience, and impact of the sacred (see Table 1).
The 1973 War exemplifies the use of religious intelligence to analyze the effects of
sacred time on mobilization and battle effectiveness. Egyptian decision makers were
correct in recognizing the centrality of Yom Kippur and its salience for Israeli citizens
but they overestimated its impact on military operations. The implications of this misjudgment for the outcome of the war were modest, since religion did not play a prominent role in defining the cause or the identities of participants in the 1973 War.
Religion played a more prominent role in two Indian counterinsurgency operations
at the Sikh temple in Amritsar. Although these were not disputes over sacred space, the
insurgents and their audience defined the conflict in terms of religious identities, so the
quality of intelligence proved an important factor in determining the success and failure
of these operations. In the 1984 operation, Indian forces failed to accurately assess the
salience or impact of the sacred space for their opponents or their own troops, resulting
in intelligence failure. In the 1988 operation, these faults were remedied.
The Iranian Revolution was not merely a conflict involving religious authority
but, ultimately, a conflict about religious authority. Yet both Iranian and American
intelligence analysts failed to gather or evaluate information about sacred authority
prior to the revolution. Consequently, they recognized neither the centrality, nor the
salience, nor the impact of Khomeinis charisma. Because religion played a prominent role in the Iranian Revolution, this failure of religious intelligence had a particularly detrimental impact on decision making.
Sacred Time: The 1973 War
Sacred time refers to holy periods, usually days, weeks, or months, in which a
religious movement commemorates key events in its mythical past. The rituals and
symbols associated with sacred time can advantage or disadvantage conflict initiators by acting as a force multiplier or divider. Decision makers armed with religious
intelligence about their opponents sacred days may elect to launch wars on these
dates in the hopes that religion will affect the capability or enthusiasm with which
their own soldiers or their opponents soldiers engage in battle.
Sacred time affects individual combatants in two primary ways. First, the rituals
associated with sacred time have material effects on mobilization and combat

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effectiveness. Holy days that require soldiers to congregate, isolate themselves, fast,
abstain from work, or forego sleep, for example, will affect the ability of these soldiers to engage in combat. Second, the symbols associated with sacred time can
shape the meaning of combat for participants. For example, holy days dedicated
to mourning martyrs or celebrating religious triumphs will influence the fervor with
which combatants pick up arms and fight. The initiation of the 1973 Arab-Israeli
War exemplifies both of these processes.
During the planning of the 1973 War, Egyptian decision makers concluded that
launching an attack on Israel on the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur would disadvantage their opponents. Egyptian beliefs about Yom Kippur observance in Israel
acted alongside other tactical, operational, and strategic constraints to influence the
choice of October 6th as the launch date for their surprise attack.
Based on statements by members of Egypts high command, Egyptian religious
intelligence made three sets of assumptions about how Yom Kippur would affect
Israeli mobilization and combat readiness. First, due to the centrality of the holiday in Judaism and its salience to Israelis, secular and religious alike, the Israeli
army would stand down. Egypts Chief of Staff Saad al Shazly explained that
on that day both religious and secular Jews fast, abstain from the use of fire
and electricity (which meant transportation would be at a standstill), and much
of the Israeli army would be demobilized.36 This statement implies a second conjecture, namely that hungry reservists would be ill-prepared for combat. Third,
Egyptian decision makers expected that observance of the holy day would impede
the mobilization and transportation of reservists to the front. Egyptian President
Anwar el-Sadat observed that on this day all public service in Israel would be suspended, and the Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Mohammed
Abdel Ghani El-Gamasy, stated that it was the only day throughout the year in
which radio and television stopped broadcasting as part of the religious
observance . . . consequently, they would have to use other and slower means to
mobilize the reserves.37
In actuality, few of these expectations were realized. The timing of the attack
does not seem to have affected the speed of troop movements to the front, but it
was one of several factors that led to Israeli hesitation in calling up reserves in
the first place. The primary reasons for this reluctance had nothing to do with the
holiday: they stemmed from concern over the costs of a redundant mobilization
and over inadvertently provoking war, and thus bearing responsibility for that
war. The presence of Yom Kippur complicated this calculation further by hampering
the broadcasting of a public alert and by increasing the likelihood that the public
would overreact to such an alert.38 These considerations are evident in the following
exchange between Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan and the Chief of Staff of
the IDF, David Elazar, in a meeting the day before the war, as recalled by then Chief
of Military Intelligence, Eli Zeira:
Elazar: . . . the problem is that during this holy day the entire country is
dead.
Dayan: That wont stand in our way.
Elazar: It will, if something happens and we want to openly mobilize or
issue alerts.
Dayan: There will be no mobilizing unless it really starts. The roads are
empty today.

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Elazar: But we have no radio. Weve been thinking, perhaps we should


instruct the militarys radio station to read psalms every two hours?
Dayan: Then we would have to tell everyone to listen to the militarys radio
station. That would cause a great panic. If we dont, who would
tune in to listen to psalms? Nobody would turn on the radio.39
There is some anecdotal evidence of Israeli soldiers praying or fasting when the
attack began but no indication that this affected their ability to fight, since orders
to break the fast, accompanied by rabbinical sanction, were issued rapidly and
obeyed immediately.40 Some Israeli soldiers, perhaps as many as a quarter of those
stationed at certain units along the front, had been given holiday leave.41 Yet air raid
sirens immediately after the attack alerted Israelis to turn on their televisions and
radios, which started broadcasting the call to arms half an hour after the initial
Egyptian assault.42 This alert was backed up by means of phone calls and couriers,
who were able to locate reservists readily at their homes or nearby synagogues.43 As
Dayan had recognized, vacant roads due to the norm against driving on Yom
Kippur facilitated both the movement of couriers and the rapid deployment of
troops to the front.44 As a result, the majority of units reached the front within 48
hours, the standard time allotted by the Israeli military for mobilization, and many
did so within 24 hours.45
In sum, Egyptian analysts were correct in attributing great significance to Yom
Kippur as a date of religious centrality in the Jewish calendar. They were also correct
in their assessment of the days salience for Israelis, regardless of piety. Widespread
observance of Yom Kippur rites prevails in Israeli society, across social, ethnic, and
economic divides. Egyptian planners erred, however, in expecting that these practices
would have a significant effect on IDF capabilities. Israeli commanders were quick
to override any such impact by implementing alternative means of mobilization,
aided by a taboo on driving that their Egyptian counterparts seemed to have been
unaware of.
Israeli intelligence fared much worse, given its inability to predict the timing,
means, or scale of the combined Egyptian-Syrian assault. Ironically, the Israeli failure to give credence to advanced warnings about an impending Arab attack may
have stemmed, in small part, due to a misreading of Muslim sacred time. The surprise attack on Israel coincided not only with Yom Kippur but also with the holy
Muslim month of Ramadan. According to Gamasy, the expectation that Israeli leaders would dismiss the likelihood of an assault during this holy Muslim month also
figured into Egyptian calculations: The enemy would not have expected us to carry
out an attack during the month of fasting.46 Gamasy seems to have overestimated
the extent to which Israeli analysts were aware of Muslim fasting practices or were
willing to incorporate those into their estimates. To the contrary, a report prepared
by the research department of the IDFs military intelligence branch, a day before
the war, noted recent Egyptian orders that prohibited soldiers from observing the
Ramadan fast, yet failed to realize the significance of this key indicator.47
Israeli analysts also failed to recognize the salience and the impact of the holidays symbolism for Egyptian soldiers. The 6th of October was not just Yom Kippur
but also the anniversary of the Battle of Badr, a battle fought by the Prophet
Muhammad against the Meccan tribe of Quraish on the 17th day of the month of
Ramadan in 624 C.E. In Muslim tradition, the Battle of Badr is seen as a decisive
military victory against all odds guided by divine intervention.48 Launching an

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attack on the anniversary of the Battle of Badr was a good omen in the words of
Egyptian Minister of War Ahmad Ismail, and to the moral and psychological
advantage of our own forces, according to Gamasy.49 Rather than handicap
Egyptian forces, Ramadans symbolism propelled them into battle.50 Israeli decision
makers, on the other hand, remained wedded to the conception that Ramadan posed
a vulnerability for their adversaries. The aforementioned intelligence report
explained unusual Egyptian troop movements in terms of Egyptian apprehensions
of an Israeli intention to exploit . . . the Ramadan feast for an offensive.51 In other
words, the Israeli assumption was that if sacred time mattered at all, it did so to the
detriment of Egypt, not Israel.
Why did Egyptians and Israelis fail to correctly assess the impact of sacred time
on their opponents? Organizational explanations for faulty intelligence analysis are
outside the scope of this paper so any answer must rest on speculation. One possible
hypothesis is that both errors stemmed from a mirror imaging of religious practices. According to this premise, Egyptians overestimated the effects of Yom Kippur
because they analyzed it through the lens of Ramadan. The Ramadan fast extends
for a month and has a higher effect on fatigue than the day-long Yom Kippur fast.
Muslims work during Ramadan and gather in mosques in the evenings, whereas
Jews spend all of Yom Kippur at home or in synagogues. Ramadan increases traffic
whereas Yom Kippur brings it to a standstill. Israelis, on the other hand, may have
misread the implications of Ramadan on war initiation because they analyzed the
Muslim holy day through the lens of the Jewish holy day. Unlike Ramadan, the symbolic association of Yom Kippur is not with victory and solemn festivity but with
repentance and trepidation.
Because the 1973 War was not a war of religion, nor a war in which the identities
of the parties were defined primarily in religious terms, these failures of religious
intelligence played only a small role in determining its outcome. Sacred time may
not have produced the results that Egyptian military planners hoped for but the false
expectation that it would shaped Arab and Israeli behavior both before and during
the war. The 1973 Arab-Israeli War is thus remarkable because it demonstrates the
relevance of religious intelligence in a secular, contemporary war between secular,
professionalized armed forces.
Sacred Space: Operations Blue Star (1984) and Black Thunder (1988)
Sacred spaces are religious centers, natural or manmade, perceived by believers as
imbued with a particular divine presence. Sacred space, like sacred time, can act
as a force multiplier. The rules governing access and behavior in sacred space,
designed to prevent desecration, constrain access by combatants, and constrain
the use of force in and around sacred space. Most religious movements ban weapons
and violence in holy places. Others go so far as to prohibit harm to plants and animals in a sanctuary. Rites of purification and gestures of approach, such as removing
and donning of clothes, further encumber the movement of combatants in and out of
sacred space. Moreover, since the sanctity of the underlying space transfers to the
man-made structure above it, religious communities consider their shrines to be
inviolable. These communities will respond in anger to damage caused to sacred
structures in the course of conflict, particularly when combat destroys sites of high
centrality that represent the groups values, heritage, and pride. Such attacks are seen
as particularly egregious when they harm worshippers.

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Vulnerable combatants can take advantage of the rituals and symbols associated
with sacred space in order to level the playing field against superior opponents.52
When insurgents who share religious affiliation with a local community establish a
stronghold in that communitys sacred site, they can enjoy a freedom of movement
and access that may be unattainable to their adversaries. Moreover, if insurgents can
persuade worshippers that they are acting in defense of the faith, they may be able to
flaunt taboos banning weapons or prohibiting the use of force, a luxury unavailable
to their rivals. They may also escape responsibility for damage to the shrine, which
will rest primarily with counterinsurgency forces positioned outside the structure.
When this happens, decision makers rely on religious intelligence to assist in striking
the difficult balance between alienating the local population by desecrating sacred
sites and responding to the tactical use of those same sites by insurgents.
This dilemma is exemplified in two counterinsurgency operations conducted by
Indian forces in the Golden Temple in the 1980s. The Golden Temple in Amritsar,
India, is the most sacred Sikh shrine. The temple complex, known as the Court of the
Lord, is made up of several ornate structures, arranged around a large, rectangular
reflecting pool. Most prominent among these are the Akhal Takht (Throne of the
Ever-Living God), and the Harimandir, a two story building in the center of the
pool, where pilgrims worship the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book.
In 1980, an extremist preacher and leader of a radical Sikh separatist movement,
Sant Jarnail Bhindranwale, sought refuge from the Indian police in the temple. Over
the course of four years, Bhindranwales forces turned the temple into a fortified
stronghold, replete with fortified machine gun nests and ammunition depots. Bhindranwales men took full advantage of the architectural layout of the shrine by
assuming positions in or near the most revered of the temple structures.53
Had the army acquired religious intelligence about the implications of the
temples design, it could have apprehended Bhindranwale in 1983: Until half a year
before Operation Blue Star, the insurgent leader resided not in the Golden Temple
itself but in the Guru Nanak rest house. By consulting with Sikh religious experts,
decision makers would have learned that the rest house was not formally part of
the temple and thus outside the area in which the insurgents could have appealed
for sanctuary. Uncertain as to whether or not the structure was part of the temple,
the authorities chose not to apprehend Bhindranwale there.54 It was only in
December 1983 that Bhindranwale moved into the Akhal Takht in the center of
the temple complex, from which he proved far more difficult to dislodge.55
Rather than consult the temple priests, or confer with the Sikh community,
Indian special forces began planning a complex operation against the insurgents.56
The operation, code named Blue Star, was launched on June 3rd, 1984.57 It was
an unmitigated disaster. Orders to fight inside the heavily fortified shrine without
damaging its structure constrained military operations and the Indian army found
itself incapable of flushing out the insurgents.58 Indeed, in seeking to prevent damage
to the shrine, the army seemed to make no distinction between different parts of the
temple or between the temple and its immediate surroundings.59 Eventually, after
suffering extreme losses, the military used six tanks and approximately eighty
high-explosive squash-head shells to reduce the insurgents fortified positions to
rubble. This led to the surrender of the insurgents and Bhindranwales death but
also burned much of the library and many of the invaluable manuscripts
within, destroyed the Akal Takht, and severely damaged the Golden Temple and
the Treasury.60

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Aside from the damage to the temple and the sacrilegious behavior of soldiers
within the complex, the Indian governments insensitivity to Sikh precepts, as
demonstrated by the date chosen for the operation, ranked high among the factors
that exacerbated the public response. The date of the attack marked the martyrdom
of the Sikh guru and founder of the temple, Guru Arjun, who had undergone
religious persecution and was ultimately executed, an act marking the evolution of
the Sikh movement from one of pacifist reform to ritual militancy. When the attack
occurred, Amritsar was crowded with visitors who were there to commemorate the
day. The attack also coincided with the fifth day of a lunar month, a particularly
auspicious day for bathing in the temples lake. One thousand pilgrims were said
to have lost their lives in the attack. These acts of outrage led to mass mutinies of
Sikh soldiers as well as, six months later, the assassination of Gandhi by her Sikh
bodyguards.61 Gandhis assassination, in turn, unleashed months of inter-communal
rioting in the Punjab and across India. An estimated 2,700 Sikhs died in these riots.62
Operation Blue Star did little to suppress the Khalistani movement in the
Punjab. Four years after the disastrous siege, Sikh insurgence once again found refuge in the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Indian authorities responded by launching
Operation Black Thunder. Though both operations involved Sikh separatists seeking
refuge in the same sacred space, they differed in several respects.63 Bhindranwales
followers had spent years preparing for a showdown with Indian security forces
by fortifying the temple and stocking it with weapons, ammunition, and supplies.
In 1988, on the other hand, the insurgents lacked food, water, and ammunition.
The police, and not the military, were responsible for executing Operation Black
Thunder. Consequently, the operation relied on the Black Cat commandos of
the National Security Guard, employing sniper fire, as opposed to infantry and
armor units of the army as in 1984. The army had used overwhelming military force
to conquer the temple in three days whereas the police placed a nine-day siege on the
temple compound, using continual pressure but minimal force.64 During Operation
Blue Star the army had also failed to develop a public relations campaign to reveal
how the insurgents were desecrating the shrine and counter their claims to religious
sanction.65 Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, Director General of Indias Police in the Punjab
in 1988, chose to conduct Operation Black Thunder under comprehensive media
coverage, televising the combat wherever possible and permitting public scrutiny
of the polices and insurgents actions inside the compound.66
Most importantly, Gill made the explicit decision to take the sanctity and design
of the Golden Temple into careful consideration in planning the operation because
he did not want to repeat the mistakes made by the Indian army in the 1984 raid.67
Indian officials met with the Jathedar (head of the Sikh priesthood), as well as the
Temple priests and local Sikhs in order to evaluate the effects of a siege on the community of worshipers and to ascertain popular support for an assault.68 In assessing
how the Sikh community might respond to destruction or desecration of different
parts of the shrine, the police concluded that combat in the parts of the temple where
pilgrims and staff resided, the serai, would provoke little protest. Fighting in the
langar, the communal kitchen in which Sikhs partake in traditional egalitarian
meals, would lead to greater outrage whereas combat in the Harimandir would be
considered a highly provocative act. Based on these assessments, Gill ordered the
police to occupy the serai and langar first and limit attacks within the temple to brief
incursions.69 When several militants sought refuge in the Harimandir, police forces
held their fire for fear of damaging the temple.70 When the crisis ended, Sikh leaders

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were invited to oversee the ritual cleaning of the temple, the reinstallation of the
sacred text, and the resumption of daily rituals. The success of Operation Black
Thunder, in the absence of significant damage to the Golden Temple or affront
to the Sikh community, contributed significantly to the quelling of the Khalistani
insurgency.
Because the two operations in the Golden Temple involved parties identified
along religious lines, intelligence about sacred space, time, and authority proved
far more important than in the 1973 War. Information about sacred authority would
prove even more critical during the Iranian Revolution, an event characterized by
high religious prominence.

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Sacred Authority: The Iranian Revolution


Sacred authority is the ability of a religious leader to compel obedience based on a
reputation for religious expertise and charisma. Religious leaders are responsible for
identifying, interpreting, and monitoring the implementation of rules that regulate
the conduct of war, including directives attached to sacred time and sacred space.71
Under unique conditions, religious leaders can even create, suspend, or annul symbols and rituals linked to sacred time and sacred space. Since the ability to do so
hinges on a leaders authority, correctly assessing the centrality, salience, and impact
of that authority is of utmost importance. Accomplishing this task requires the
religious intelligence analyst to contrast a leaders formal ranking in the leadership
hierarchy of a religious movement (the centrality of his authority) with the leaders
de facto following and influence (the salience of his authority), and with his influence
on decision makers and combatants (the impact of his authority).
Formal authority depends on seniority or expertise, whereas popularity may
depend on perceived charisma. Both types of authority are checked from above
and below: religious elites determine the leaders formal ranking and can overrule
his proclamations; the religious community is attracted by rulings that resonate with
their needs and repelled by rulings that stray too far from the norm. The proclamations of a religious leader are thus constrained by the attributes of the sacred parameter at stake, pressures from religious elites, and the demands of a religious
constituency.
Social considerations that complicate the analysis of sacred time and sacred space
encumber the study of sacred authority fourfold. This difficulty explains, in part, the
failures of decision makers to accurately identify and evaluate the contribution of
religious actors to recent conflicts. For example, when U.S. decision makers selected
key religious leaders for the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) in 2003, they underestimated the influence of the young Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. CIA and State Department analysts correctly identified the centrality of three Shia Ayatollahs (Ali
al-Husayni al-Sistani, Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, and Mohammad Bahr alUlloum) who were invited to participate in the IGC. These analysts dismissed al-Sadr
because he lacked formal scholarly credentials: He did not hold the title of Ayatollah
or mujtaheed (senior scholar).
Instead, al-Sadrs informal reputation derived from his lineage: The al-Sadr
family traces its ancestry through the sixth and seventh Shia imams directly to
the Prophet Muhammad. Moqtada al-Sadrs father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad
Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, who had led the Shia opposition against Saddam
Hussein after the First Gulf War, was assassinated with two of his sons in 1999

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before the torch passed to Moqtada al-Sadr. Sidelined from the IGC, Moqtada
al-Sadr formed a shadow government and led a militia group in violent resistance
against U.S. forces in Iraq, confirming the salience and impact of his religious
authority. What al-Sadr lacked in formal ranking he made up for in popular
legitimacy.
If the mistake in Iraq in 2003 was to privilege the centrality of religious authority,
the blunder in Iran in 1979 was to ignore it altogether. U.S. diplomats and intelligence
officers failed to foster ties with Irans Shia clergy and proved unable to foresee the
role that Ayatollah Khomeini would play in the events of 1979. This profound
inability to recognize the prominent role of religion in the Iranian Revolution played
a primary role in the intelligence and policy breakdown of 1978-9.72 No one in our
government understood the role of religion and Khomeini, wrote Robert Jervis in
his review of the intelligence failure of 1979. Analysts, like everyone else at the time,
underestimated the potential if not existing role of religion in many societies.73 U.S.
observers of events in Iran had no conception of fundamentalist Islam and bore no
suspicion that religious leaders would become the focal points of revolutionary sentiments and activities.74 CIA experts who tried to draw attention to Irans religious leadership were mocked by fellow analysts. For example, when Earnest Oney, a former
CIA branch chief and Iran expert, called for an in-depth study of Irans religious leadership, his proposal was dismissed as sociology by his superiors. He was given the
nickname Mullah Ernie.75
Several factors account for the U.S. failure to anticipate the fall of the Shah and
the rise of Khomeini. The rapid pace of developments in Iran caught the foreign
affairs bureaucracy of the U.S. off guard at a time when decision makers were preoccupied with SALT II negotiations and the Egyptian-Israeli peace talks.76 The CIA
had focused its resources in Iran on the communist threat, as did its Iranian counterpart (SAVAK). This shared threat perception led the agency to forge close ties with
SAVAK while dedicating few resources to intelligence gathering on domestic Iranian
issues. The common obsession with the Soviet Union also made it difficult for
American and Iranian intelligence officers to conceive of agitators other than communists and distorted their diagnosis of the impending revolution.77 At the same
time, U.S. deference towards the Shah and his advisors led to an over-reliance on
Iranian intelligence sources. The CIA hesitated to develop contacts in the Iranian
opposition not only because these assumed a low priority but also because the
agency feared undermining or antagonizing the Shah.78
With other forms of opposition suppressed, Irans mullahs came to assume an
increasingly salient role as articulators of popular sentiments and as focal points
of anti-Shah protest, for religious and secular followers alike.79 Yet U.S. decision
makers continued to assume that religious groups were marginal to Iranian society
and underestimated the ability of Irans Shia leaders to gain a substantial following.80 Jervis concludes:
The problem was not the missing of one or two vital clues to the nature of
the religious groups; rather it appears to have been a general outlook
which did not give credence to the links between the religious leaders
and the grievance of wide ranges of the general population. This outlook
powerfully influenced the interpretation of incoming information (as any
established belief will do) and specifically led the analysts to be insensitive
to the possibility that the opposition could unite behind Khomeini.81

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The failure to take Irans religious leadership seriously had a direct effect on U.S.
policy in Iran in the months leading up to the revolution. The embassy in Tehran
established links to each and every Iranian opposition group but it had no such ties
with Irans clergy. Only one of the 104 names on the contact lists of leading political
officers at the embassy between 1969 and 1976 was that of a religious leader, and he
was a marginal figure in the Shia establishment.82 Only in December 1978, a month
before the ultimate departure of the Shah, did the American ambassador, William H.
Sullivan, enter into dialogue with members of the religious opposition. He did so in
secret, for fear of angering the Shah as well as concern over defying his superiors in
the State Department who had explicitly prohibited such contacts.83 And only on
January 18, two days after the fall of the Shah, did the State Department issue
Sullivan with instructions to start communicating with Shia leaders.84 Not surprisingly, by that point in time the clergy proved resistant to American overtures.85
The CIA fared similarly badly in gathering information about the religious
establishment. Of the hundreds of cassette tapes that Khomeini used for circulating
his revolutionary message, for example, the embassy and CIA station collected only
one, presumably deeming the rest to be of no value. Analysts knew little about what
the future leader of the revolution was preaching, beyond what they could read in the
newspapers.86 Field officers paid little attention to the religious factor and analysts
sought out no experts on the topic.87 The CIA station in Tehran recruited heavily
among officials in the Shahs regime but it did not recruit among average Iranians
and had no points of contact with religious leaders.88 Rare references to religion in
intelligence reports, such as a recognition of prominent religious leaders in a 1974
National Intelligence Estimate or a reference to religious restiveness in an embassy
report from 1977, were overshadowed by a concern with the liberal opposition in
Iran and thus prompted no tangible policy changes.89
A direct consequence of this failure to appreciate the power of the clergy was the
consistent refusal by all stakeholders to meet with Khomeini or his representatives. In
September 1978, principal White House aide for Persian Gulf Affairs, Gary Sick, proposed a meeting between Khomeinis representative in the U.S. and a low-level State
Department official. The State Department vetoed the idea.90 In December of that
year, George Ball urged President Carter to open a disavowable channel of communications with Khomeini, an idea scuttled by national security advisor Zbigniew
Brzezinski.91 By January 1979, with the revolution all but over, Ambassador Sullivan
finally recognized the tremendous influence that Khomeini was wielding over the
opposition movement. With tacit consent from the Shah, he arranged for a meeting
between Theodore Eliot, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, and Khomeini.
President Jimmy Carter, backed by his entire cabinet, canceled the meeting at the last
minute.92 . . .My surprise and my anguish could not have been more complete, Sullivan reported in his memoirs.93 The Shah responded to the cancellation with even
greater agitation, throwing his hands up in despair and demanding to know how
we expected to influence those people if we would not even talk to them.94 The first
direct meeting between a U.S. official and a Khomeini aide did not take place until
January 16, twenty-four hours before the Shah left Iran.95
CIA director Stansfield Turner summarized the level of ignorance regarding the
role of religious leaders in the events of 1979: We did not known beans about who
made up the Revolutionary Council.96 Analysts were in the dark regarding the
structure and organization of the religious opposition, its means of decision making
and communication, its methods in selecting targets for riots, or its relationship to

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the middle class.97 Neither I nor the embassy was ever able to make much progress
in comprehending the mind set of the Shia hierarchy, admitted U.S. ambassador
Sullivan, who suspected at the time that moderate religious leaders would not follow
the more radical Khomeini.98 Less than half of the embassys local employees were
members of Irans Shia majority, an institutional trend that further insulated
embassy personnel from Iranian society.99 Carters special envoy to Iran at the
height of the crisis, U.S. Air Force General Robert E. Huyser, admitted to having
never heard Khomeinis name before April 1978. When he arrived in Tehran in
January 1979, he estimated that Khomeini had the support of less than 20 percent
of the Iranian population.100
As a consequence, analysts had little insight into the beliefs and values of
religiously-motivated protesters, let alone an understanding of Khomeinis motivations, his influence relative to other religious leaders, the size of his following, or
what he would do after gaining power. Even after the fact, notes Jervis, it was not
clear to the CIA how or when he achieved dominance or why other ayatollahs
followed his lead.101

Conclusion: Assigning the Task


Due to the speed with which the Iranian regime collapsed and the uncertainty surrounding the Shia opposition, U.S. decision makers relied on academics to provide
much of the information about religion in Iran during the revolution. Most of these
scholars failed to assess Khomeini and his followers correctly.102 For example,
Richard Cottam, Iran scholar at the University of Pittsburgh, asserted in October
1978 that Khomeini was a moderate and centrist who had no interest in running
the government and planned to retire to Qom.103 Three months later, James Bill, history professor at Bard College, claimed in Foreign Affairs that the Shia imams
would never participate in the formal government structure.104 Both Cottam
and Bill had been among the select scholars consulted by the State Department,
White House, and CIA.105 In January 1979, James D. Cockcroft, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University, joined the ranks of academics who did not expect the
clergy to take an active role in Iranian politics.106 Two weeks after Khomeinis return
to Iran, Princeton Professor Richard Falk penned a New York Times op-ed titled
Trusting Khomeini in which he presented Khomeini as nonviolent and a
desperately-needed model of human governance.107
If political scientists and historians cannot be relied on to provide accurate
religious intelligence, who can? Should scholars of religion, anthropologists, military
chaplains, or soldiers perform these tasks? The difficulty posed by the subject matter
requires an analyst who can brave the four challenges discussed above: evaluating
the prominence, centrality, salience, and impact of the sacred in a given conflict.
In the absence of individuals who are proficient in theology, politics, anthropology,
and military affairs at one and the same time, decision makers will have to rely on
teams of specialists who can complement one anothers abilities.
Scholars trained in religion and politics are often adept at overcoming the first
two obstacles. Armed with information about a conflict and the relevant religious
traditions, they can offer careful speculation about the religious ideas and practices
at play in a dispute and the degree to which they might shape motivations and identities. The third hurdle, estimating salience, requires supplementing these hypotheticals with in-depth knowledge of local traditions, practices, and biases. The detailed

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ethnographic familiarity required for understanding how a specific religious


sub-group perceives and implements the formal symbols and ceremonies of a
broader religious movement, suggests the need for anthropological training and
experience.
Indeed, the U.S. military has engaged in several efforts to recruit anthropologists
as advisors on cultural issues. This practice is part of a larger move towards
culture-centric warfare in the U.S. military.108 In the U.S. armys 2006 counterinsurgency field manual, two contributing anthropologists, Montgomery McFate and
David Kilcullen, detail the cultural experts skill set. It includes the ability to
decipher social structures, language, power, authority, and interests. Cultural knowledge, they argue, involves information about local notions of rationality, appropriate behaviors, levels of religious devotion, norms concerning gender, rituals,
symbols, myths, narratives, ancient grievances, and more.109
The deployment of anthropologists in support of combat troops raises several difficulties. For one, a vocal majority in the American Anthropological Association
(AAA) is vehemently opposed to cooperation with the military. Many anthropologists
have decried the military-anthropology complex as a grave breach of the AAAs
code of ethics.110 The use of anthropological observation and analysis as a source
of intelligence, they argue, endangers informants, other anthropologists, and the integrity of the discipline. These critics have branded colleagues who advise armed forces as
warrior-intellectuals who are providing a manual for indirect colonial rule.111
Whereas the Department of Defense has teamed up with the National Science Foundation to launch Minerva, an initiative to fund social science research on culture in
regions of concern, alarmed scholars have formed the Network of Concerned Anthropologists to counter the militarization of their discipline.112
A second problem with the use of anthropologists as military contractors is that
their ability to analyze the salience of religious factors is not matched with skills for
interpreting their impact on military operations. Social scientists who specialize in
local cultural practices are unlikely to have an expertise in military affairs. Even
those few who are capable of working alongside military forces in a combat zone
are thus unlikely to be able to translate their findings from the religious to the military sphere unaided.
Because analyzing the tactical and strategic impact of rituals and symbols
requires an understanding of both religion and military operations, the U.S. military
initially considered tasking chaplains with this role. Military guidelines routinely
require chaplains to provide information to their commanders regarding religious
practices of the local population, analyze religious and cultural factors, and train
military personnel to respect religious beliefs.113 At the same time, the military
expects chaplains to leverage their religious expertise in the service of outreach to
local religious leaders in conflict zones. Chaplains now regularly act as liaisons,
forming channels of communication with local communities and enhancing trust.114
These two tasks, intelligence gathering and winning hearts and minds, are in clear
tension with one another. Chaplains receive no formal training in the gathering or
analyzing of religious intelligence and the expectation that they will act as unarmed
battlefield spies endangers their status as non-combatants.115
Aware of this conflict of interest and the potential danger to chaplains, the U.S.
military has recently moved to explore a new option. The Human Terrain System
(HTS), launched in the fall of 2006, is a program to create embedded teams tasked
with providing direct social-science support in the form of ethnographic and social

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research, cultural information research, and social data analysis.116 Each team
consists of an officer acting as leader, two social scientists tasked with analyzing
the region and its culture, and two military personnel with a background in tactical
intelligence acting as research manager and analyst. Their goal is to create a database
covering social, economic, and cultural information that can be used by a
forward-deployed brigade or relayed to a larger team of social scientists located in
the Foreign Military Studies Office in Fort Leavenworth.117 This Reachback
Research Center (RRC) is part of a larger organization that will act as a clearinghouse for cultural knowledge, provide on-the-ground ethnographic research, and
conduct pre-deployment cultural training on specific countries.118 It is not clear
how much of this effort will be aimed at gathering, analyzing, or implementing information about religion.
The Human Terrain System is still in its infancy. Though it has earned some
initial praise, the Army has provided little public information about its record so
far.119 The strength of this approach, a reliance on a combination of academic
and military resources, may also prove its primary weakness.120 Despite ongoing
integration training, members of HTS teams will find communication and
cooperation across the academic-military divide to be a significant challenge. Just
as scholars are unlikely to be attuned to operational needs, so soldiers are unlikely
to make research requirements their top priority. On the academic side of that divide, social scientists in the front lines will encounter time, resource, and security
obstacles to conducting professional analyses. Basic social science techniques, from
controlled sampling to participant observation, are unfeasible in combat zones.
Given significant opposition to the HTS program among social scientists, its not
obvious where the military will find qualified Ph.D.s (in suitable physical condition)
or how it will assess the quality of their research. On the military side of the equation, commanders will encounter difficulties recruiting and training soldiers of
adequate academic background to support the research needs of their academic
counterparts and exploit their findings in an optimal manner.
Despite these difficulties, HTS and similar programs are likely to grow in prominence as actors identified in religious terms become increasingly involved in asymmetric conflicts. This projected growth in the prominence of religion should prompt
decision makers to draw on the combined expertise of religion scholars, political
scientists, ethnographers, and military specialists for religious intelligence analysis.
Political scientists who are interested in supporting such efforts should broaden their
outlook on religion and conflict from an exclusive focus on the sacred as an idea that
generates religious disputes and onto the sacred as a constellation of symbols and
practices that pervades all disputes. By studying the manifold ways in which the
sacred shapes combat, beyond the analysis of sacred time, space, and authority,
political scientists can play their part in exploring the prominence and centrality
of religion in conflict.

Notes
1. Sunan Abu-Dawud, Kitab al-Malahim, Book 36, Number 4273.
2. Ibid., Book 37, Numbers 4272 and 4269.
3. Ibid., Book 37, Number 4278.
4. Ayman Al-Yassini, Religion and State in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Boulder, CO:
Westview Press, 1985), 124129; Yaroslav Trofimov, The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten

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Uprising in Islams Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda (New York: Doubleday, 2007);
Pascal Menoret, Fighting for the Holy Mosque: The 1979 Mecca Insurgency, in Treading
on Hallowed Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces, eds. C. Christine Fair
and Sumit Ganguly (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 117139; and Joseph A.
Kechichian, The Role of the Ulama in the Politics of an Islamic State: The Case of Saudi
Arabia, International Journal of Middle East Studies 18, no. 1 (February 1986): 60.
5. Fighting Continues at Moslem Shrine, Associated Press, November 24, 1979.
6. Alexander Bligh, The Saudi Religious Elite (Ulema) as Participant in the Political
System of the Kingdom, International Journal of Middle East Studies 16, no. 4 (1985): 48; and
Ron E. Hassner, War on Sacred Grounds (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009),
146151.
7. On religion and terrorism, see Michael Barkun, Religious Violence and the Myth
of Fundamentalism, Politics, Religion & Ideology 4, no. 3 (2003): 5570; Michael Barkun,
Millenarian Aspects of White Supremacist Movements, Terrorism and Political Violence
1, no. 4 (1989): 409434; David C. Rapoport, Messianic Sanctions for Terror, Comparative
Politics 20, no. 2 (Jan, 1988): 195211; David C. Rapoport, Fear and Trembling: Terrorism
in Three Religious Traditions, American Political Science Review 78, no. 3 (1984): 658677;
David C. Rapoport, The Four Waves of Rebel Terror and September 11, Anthropoetics 8,
no. 1 (Spring=Summer 2002); Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements From the Far Right to the Children of Noah (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press,
1997); Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); Mohammed M. Hafez, Suicide Bombers in
Iraq: The Strategy and Ideology of Martyrdom (Washington, DC: USIP Press, 2007); Bruce
Lincoln, Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11 (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 2003); and Ron E. Hassner, Terrorism, in Mark Juergensmeyer and Wade
Clark Roof (eds.), Encyclopedia of Global Religion (New York: Sage, 2012).
8. Jonathan Fox, The Rise of Religious Nationalism and Conflict: Ethnic Conflict
and Revolutionary Wars, 19452001, Journal of Peace Research 41, no. 6 (2004): 715731;
and Monica Duffy Toft, Getting Religion: The Puzzling Case of Islam and Civil War, International Security 31, no. 4 (Spring 2007): 97131.
9. Michael Horowitz, Long Time Going: Religion and the Duration of Crusading,
International Security 34, no. 2 (2009): 162193.
10. Sohail Hashmi, Islamic Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Argument
for Nonproliferation, in Sohail H. Hashmi and Steven P. Lee, Ethics and Weapons of Mass
Destruction: Religious and Secular Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 321352.
11. Isak Svensson, Fighting with Faith: Religion and Conflict Resolution in Civil
Wars, Journal of Conflict Resolution 51, no. 6 (2007): 930949.
12. Ron E. Hassner, At the Horns of the Altar: Counterinsurgency and the Religious
Roots of the Sanctuary Practice, Civil Wars 10, no. 1 (March 2008): 2239; and Ron E.
Hassner, Blasphemy and Violence, International Studies Quarterly 55, no. 1 (March
2011): 2345.
13. Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. Joseph Ward
Swain (New York: The Free Press, 1915).
14. Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion (New York: New American
Library, 1974), 367; and Gerardus van der Leeuw, Religion in Essence and Manifestation
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986), 386.
15. Durkheim (see note 13 above), 55.
16. James George Frazer, Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, in The Golden Bough: A
Study in Magic and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1911); and Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge, 1996).
17. James Aho, Religious Mythology and the Art of War: Comparative Religious Symbolism of Military Violence (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981); R. Scott Appleby, The
Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation (Lanham, MD: Rowman
& Littlefield, 2000); and Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God (see note 7 above).
18. Alexander De Juan and Andreas Hasenclever, Framing Religious ConflictsThe
Role of Elites in Religiously Charged Civil Wars, Politische Vierteljahresschrift 43 (2009):
178205; Toft (see note 8 above); and Fox (see note 8 above).
19. Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion (see note 14 above), 375.

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20. Joel P. Brereton, Sacred Space, in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade
(New York: Macmillan, 1987), Vol. 12, 526535; Ron E. Hassner, To Halve and to Hold:
Conflicts Over Sacred Space and the Problem of Indivisibility, Security Studies 12, no. 4
(2003): 133; and Clinton Bennet, Islam, in Sacred Places, ed. Jean Holm (London: Pinter,
1994), 88114.
21. van der Leeuw, Religion in Essence and Manifestation (see note 14 above), 386;
Barbara C. Sproul, Sacred Time, in Eliade (ed.), Encyclopedia of Religion (see note 20 above),
535544; and Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), 7.
22. On religious ideas versus practice see Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors: Thinking about
Religion after September 11 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 718 and 73; and
Ernest Gellner, Postmodernism, Reason and Religion (London: Routledge, 1992), 922.
23. Stephen Labaton, Siege in Texas; Agents Advice: Attack on a Sunday, The New
York Times, March 3, 1993, A11.
24. John R. Hall, Apocalypse Observed: Religious Movements and Violence in North
America, Europe, and Japan (New York: Routledge, 2000), 63. The agents concern regarding
the possibility of group suicide is documented in Richard Scruggs et al., United States
Department of Justice Report on the Events at Waco, Texas, February 28 to April 19, 1993
(Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993), 210214; and Edward S. G. Dennis,
Report to the Deputy Attorney General: Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Davidian
Standoff in Waco, Texas, by the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1993), 3639.
25. Dennis (see note 24 above), 35.
26. Susan J. Palmer, Excavating Waco, in James R. Lewis, From the Ashes (New
York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1984), 104. The agent himself was completely ignorant regarding
the most basic theological principles or practices of the sect and Christianity in general. Dick J.
Reavis, The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 66 and 73.
27. James T. Tabor and Eugene V. Gallagher, Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for
Religious Freedom in America (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997), 4748;
Kenneth G. C. Newport, The Branch Davidians of Waco (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2006), 145146; James Moore, Very Special Agents: The Inside Story of Americas Most
Controversial Law Enforcement Agency The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
(New York: Pocket Books, 1997), 286.
28. Scruggs et al. (see note 24 above), 1.
29. Primary factors determining the date of the attack included the availability of
troops, weather conditions, and enemy fatigue. Washington had only recently succeeded in
raising a new army. It was his hope that the winter weather would create conditions that were
harsh enough to provide cover for the movements of this army into New Jersey but that would
not thwart the crossing of the river. Furthermore, intelligence about the continued harassment
of the Trenton garrison by the New Jersey militia suggested that the Hessians had been forced
into a constant state of alertness and would be emotionally and physically exhausted come the
end of December. David Hackett Fischer, Washingtons Crossing (Oxford, UK: Oxford
University Press, 2004), 151 and 201205.
30. William S. Stryker, The Battles of Trenton and Princeton (Boston: Houghton,
Mifflin, 1898), 361.
31. This local holy day, unique to German-speaking countries and Commonwealth
states, is still celebrated in Germany as Der Zweite Weinachtsfeiertag (The Second Christmas Holiday). It is known in Commonwealth states as Boxing Day.
32. Hermann Reckels, Volkskunde des Kreises Steinfurt, in Heimatbuch des Kreises
Steinfurt (Steinfurt: Selbstverlag des Kreises Steinfurt, 1932), 220.
33. Clint Johnson, Colonial America and the American Revolution (San Francisco, CA:
Greenline Publications, 2006), 87.
34. Samuel Stelle Smith, The Battle of Trenton (Monmouth Beach, NJ: Philip Freneau
Press, 1965), 17.
35. Smith (see note 34 above), 17; Fischer (see note 29 above), 205, 240, and 426.
36. Saad el Shazly, The Crossing of the Suez (San Francisco: American Mideast
Research, 2003), 36.
37. Anwar el-Sadat, In Search of Identity=An Autobiography (New York: Harper &
Row, 1977), 241; and Mohammed Abdel Ghani El-Gamasy, The October War: Memoirs

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of Field Marshal El-Gamasy of Egypt (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1993),
181.
38. On concerns that a mobilization on Yom Kippur would lead to panic, see Uri
Bar-Joseph, The Angel: Ashraf Marwan, the Mossad, and the Yom Kippur War, in Hebrew
(Israel: Kinneret et al., 2010), 242 and 246.
39. Eli Zeira, The October 73 War: Myth Against Reality, in Hebrew (Israel: Yedioth
Ahronot, 1993), 141, my translation.
40. Dharitri Kumar Palit, Return to Sinai/The Arab Offensive, October 1973 (New
Delhi: Lancer Publishers & Distributors, 1974), 77; Chaim Herzog, The War of Atonement
(Jerusalem: Steimatzkys Agency Ltd., 1975), 6465, 72 and 172; A.J. Barker, The Yom Kippur
War (New York: Random House, 1974), 42, 69 and 93; and Abraham Rabinovich, The Yom
Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East (New York: Schocken
Books, 2004), 9799.
41. Golda Meir, My Life (Jerusalem: Steimatzkys Agency, 1975), 355; London Sunday
Times Insight Team, The Yom Kippur War (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974), 115 and 136.
42. Rabinovich (see note 40 above), 100; Barker (see note 40 above), 43.
43. Walter Laqueur, Confrontation: The Middle East and World Politics (New York:
Quadrangle and the New York Times Books Co., 1974), 89; Ariel Sharon and David Chanoff,
Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 289;
London Sunday Times (see note 41 above), 76; Rabinovich (see note 40 above), 46 and 99.
44. Abba Eban, An Autobiography (New York: Random House, 1977), 504; London
Sunday Times (see note 41 above), 76; Rabinovich (see note 40 above), 46; and Donald Neff,
Warriors Against Israel: How Israel Won the Battle to Become Americas Ally (Brattleboro,
VT: Amana, 1988), 164.
45. Rabinovich (see note 40 above), 129; Herzog (see note 40 above), 54, 8588 and 98;
and Sharon (see note 43 above), 303.
46. Mohammed Abdel Ghani El-Gamasy, The October War: Memoirs of Field Marshal
El-Gamasy of Egypt (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1993), 181.
47. Uri Bar-Joseph, The Watchman Fell Asleep: The Surprise of Yom Kippur and Its
Sources (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005), 167 and 247, citing
Research Department report of 11 a.m. on October 5, 1973, par. 26f.
48. Quran, Surah 3, verses 13 and 123-5 and Surah 8, throughout.
49. Henry Kissinger and Muhammad Hassanain Haikal, Kissinger meets Haikal,
Journal of Palestine Studies 3, no. 2 (Winter, 1974): 219220; Gamasy (see note 37 above),
181. See also Taha El Magdoub Hassan El Badri and Mohammed Dia El Din Zohdy, The
Ramadan War, 1973 (Dunn Loring, VA: T.N. Dupuy, 1978), 48; and London Sunday Times
(see note 41 above), 75.
50. Such a misreading of Ramadan would not be without parallel. During the Iran-Iraq
War, Saddam Hussein approached Ayatollah Khomeini with a proposal to cease fighting during Ramadan. His suggestion was greeted with jeers from Irans mullahs, who pointed out that
Ramadan was not one of the three sacred (haram) months in which fighting was prohibited
but a blessed (mubarak) month in which Muslims had a particular inspiration and incentive
to fight. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Dar maktab-i juma: Majmua-yi khutbaha-yi namaz-i
juma-yi Tehran, Vol. 3 12=4=60 (Tehran: Ministry of Islamic Guidance, 1365=1987), 274,
cited in Saskia Gieling, Religion and War in Revolutionary Iran (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999),
165.
51. Bar-Joseph (2005) (see note 47 above), 165170, citing Research Department report
of 11 a.m. on October 5, 1973, pars. 20 and 39.
52. Michael A. Innes (ed.), Denial of Sanctuary: Understanding Terrorist Safe Havens
(Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007); and special issue on sanctuaries and safe havens in Civil Wars
10, no. 1 (March 2008).
53. T. N. Madan, The Double-Edged Sword: Fundamentalism in the Sikh Religious
Tradition, in Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalisms Observed
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 597.
54. Mark Tully and Satish Jacob, Amritsar: Mrs. Gandhis Last Battle (London:
Jonathan Cape, 1985), 81; Lt. General K.S. Brar, Operation Bluestar: The True Story (New
Delhi: UBSPD, 1993), 2526; and Chand Joshi, Bhindranwale, Myth and Reality (New Delhi:
Vikas Publishing House, 1984), 135136.

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55. Tully and Jacob (see note 54 above), 109.


56. Tully and Jacob (see note 54 above), 118, claim that commandos had trained for
their mission using a large model of the temple constructed in a special forces camp at
Chakrata. Brar (see note 54 above), 39, denies this claim, insisting that operation Blue Star
did not involve significant advanced planning.
57. Brar (see note 54 above); Major General E.H. Dar (Retired), Battle for the Akal
Takht: A Military Analysis, Pakistan Army Journal 25, no. 3 (September 1984): 1819; C.
Christine Fair, The Golden Temple: A Tale of Two Sieges, in Fair and Ganguly (eds.),
Treading on Hallowed Ground (see note 4 above), 3765.
58. Joshi (see note 54 above), 151; Brar (see note 54 above), 63, 8687.
59. K.P.S. Gill, Punjab: The Knights of Falsehood (New Delhi: Haranand Publications,
1997), 87.
60. See for example W. Claiborne, 250 Sikhs are Killed; Indian Army Attacks Golden
Temple, The Washington Post, June 6, 1984, A1; India Seizes Temple, Sikh Chief, 297 Die,
San Diego Tribune, June 7, 1984; William K. Stevens, 308 People Killed as Indian Troops
Take Sikh Temple, The New York Times, June 7, 1984, A1. Tully and Jacob (see note 54
above), 156158.
61. Tully and Jacob (see note 54 above), 194197; Indian Troops Capture Sikh
Temple, San Diego Tribune, June 7, 1984; W. Claiborne, Demonstrators Vow Backlash;
Sikhs Violently Protest Temple Attack, The Washington Post, June 8, 1984, A1; William
K. Stevens, Sikhs Protesting Raid on Shrine; 27 Die in Riots, The New York Times, June
8, 1984, A1.
62. Madan, The Double-Edged Sword (see note 53 above), 621.
63. Fair (see note 57 above), 5860.
64. Martha Crenshaw, Terrorism in Context (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State
Press, 1995), 398.
65. Fair (see note 57 above), 45.
66. Vipul Mugdal, Black Thunders Silver Lining, Hindustan Times, May 13, 2008;
Gill (see note 59 above), 98.
67. Sanjoy Hazarika, Sikhs Surrender to Troops at Temple, The New York Times,
May 19, 1988.
68. Sarab Jit Singh, Operation Black Thunder: An Eye Witness Account of Terrorism in
the Punjab (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2002), 127128.
69. Fair (see note 57 above), 5253.
70. Singh (see note 68 above), 138139.
71. See Max Webers contributions to the study of charisma in Bureaucracy and Charisma: A Philosophy of History, Politics as a Vocation, The Sociology of Charismatic
Authority, and The Social Psychology of World Religion, in From Max Weber, Essays
in Sociology, eds. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press,
1958), 5154, 77128, 245252, and 267301.
72. John D. Stempel, Inside the Iranian Revolution (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1981), 290.
73. Robert Jervis: Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the
Iraq War (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010), 25.
74. Ibid., 25.
75. James A. Bill, The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations
(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988), 417.
76. Stempel (see note 72 above), 284.
77. Said Amir Arjomand, The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 128; Gary Sick, All Fall Down: Americas Tragic Encounter with Iran (New York: Random House, 1985), 346, note 4; Jervis (see note 73 above), 23.
78. Stempel (see note 72 above), 285.
79. Jervis (see note 73 above), 8790.
80. Ibid., 87.
81. Ibid., 91.
82. William H. Sullivan, Mission to Iran (New York: W.W. Norton, 1981), 88; Stempel
(see note 72 above), 287; and Bill (see note 75 above), 390.
83. Arjomand (see note 77 above), 129; and Sick (see note 77 above), 132137.

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84. Sick (see note 77 above), 144145.


85. Sullivan (see note 82 above), 92 and 160; Stempel (see note 72 above), 287; and Bill
(see note 75 above), 279.
86. Jervis (see note 73 above), 18.
87. Ibid., 25.
88. Angelo Codevilla, Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century (New York:
Free Press, 1992), 97; and Bill (see note 75 above), 402403.
89. Jervis (see note 73 above), 219 and 408.
90. Ibid., 5455.
91. Bill (see note 75 above), 253.
92. Sullivan (see note 82 above), 223; Bill (see note 75 above), 251 and 258; and
Arjomand (see note 77 above), 131.
93. Ibid., 224.
94. Ibid.
95. Ibid., 141143.
96. Ofira Seliktar, Failing the Crystal Ball Test: The Carter Administration and the
Fundamentalist Revolution in Iran (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000), 106.
97. Jervis (see note 73 above), 8586.
98. Sullivan (see note 82 above), 93; and Seliktar (see note 96 above), 84.
99. Sullivan, (see note 82 above), 40; and Bill (see note 75 above), 389.
100. Robert E. Huyser, Mission to Teheran (New York: Harper and Row, 1986), 72
and 74.
101. Jervis (see note 73 above), 8586; and Stempel (see note 72 above), 291.
102. For examples and exceptions see Seliktar (see note 96 above), 121123. Not all scholars shared this rosy assessment of Khomeinism. Leonard Binder, Marvin Zonis, Laqueur
(1978), Lenczowski (1978).
103. Seliktar (see note 96 above), 121.
104. Seliktar (see note 96 above), 122, citing James A. Bill, Iran and the Crisis of 1978,
Foreign Affairs 57 (1978=79), 323342.
105. Seliktar (see note 96 above), 123.
106. James D. Cockcroft, Letter, The New York Times, January 3, 1979.
107. Richard Falk, Trusting Khomeini, The New York Times, February 16, 1979.
108. Major General Robert H. Scales Junior, Culture-Centric Warfare, Proceedings
130 (October 2004): 3236. See also Patrick Porter, Good Anthropology, Bad History:
The Cultural Turn in Studying War, Parameters (Summer 2007): 4558; and Max Boot,
The Struggle to Transform the Military, Foreign Affairs 84, no. 2 (Mar.Apr., 2005):
103118.
109. U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual FM 3-24 (December 15, 2006), 1=15,
3=8, and throughout.
110. Roberto J. Gonzales, Towards Mercenary Anthropology? The New U.S. Army
Counterinsurgency Manual FM 3-24 and the Military-Anthropology Complex, Anthropology Today 23, no. 3 (June 2007): 19. See also the symposium on academics and military
practitioners in Perspectives 8, no. 4 (December 2010): 10771124.
111. Gonzales, ibid., 16. Hugh Gusterson goes a step further by describing the involvement of anthropologists in counter-insurgency campaigns as prostituting ourselves as hired
intelligence gatherers. Anthropology Today 23, no. 4 (August 2007): 23. See also Patricia
Cohen, Panel Criticizes Militarys Use of Anthropologists, The New York Times, December
4, 2009, C2.
112. Defense, NSF Team Up on National Security Research, Science 321 (July 11,
2008): 186; and Patricia Cohen, Pentagon to Consult Academics on Security, The New York
Times, June 18, 2008, 1.
113. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Religious Support Doctrine: The Chaplain
and the Chaplain Assistant FM 16-1 (Washington, DC, April 1989).
114. William Sean Lee, Christopher Burke, and Zonna M. Crayne, Military Chaplains
as Peace Builders: Embracing Indigenous Religions in Stability Operations, Research
Report, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base (April 2004); and Greg Jaffe, Army Finds
Good Information in Short Supply in Guerrilla War, Wall Street Journal, October 6,
2003, A1.

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115. Chris Seiple, Ready . . . Or Not? Equipping the U.S. Military Chaplain for
Inter-Religious Liaison, Review of Faith & International Affairs 7, no. 4 (2009): 4349; and
George Adams, Chaplains as Liaisons with Religious Leaders: Lessons from Iraq and
Afghanistan, Peaceworks, no. 56 (United States Institute of Peace, March 2006).
116. Jacob Kipp, Lester Grau, Karl Prinslow, and Don Smith, The Human Terrain System: A CORDS for the 21st Century, Military Review (SeptemberOctober 2006): 815.
117. Ibid., 1315.
118. Several of these ideas were originally proposed in Montgomery McFate, An Organizational Solution for DODs Cultural Knowledge Needs, Military Review (JulyAugust
2005): 1821; and Montgomery McFate, The Military Utility of Understanding Adversary
Culture, Joint Forces Quarterly 38 (Summer 2005): 4248.
119. Some achievements are listed in David Rhode, Army Enlists Anthropology in War
Zones, The New York Times, October 5, 2007, 1; and Richard A. Oppel and Taimoor Shah,
Assassination in Kandahar Further Erodes Afghans Faith in Government, The New York
Times, April 21, 2010, 6.
120. A thorough critique of HTS appears in Benn Connable, All Our Eggs in a Broken
Basket: How the Human Terrain System is Undermining Sustainable Military Cultural
Competence, Military Review (MarchApril 2009).