Eight months after The Long War Journal broke the news on the existence of al Qaeda’s paramilitary Shadow Army, or the Lashkar al Zil, the Associated Press picked up on the role the terror army plays in Afghanistan, and mentioned the Lashkar al Zil by name. In an article titled “Al-Qaida showing smaller presence in Afghanistan,” the AP quoted Dr. Brian Glynn Williams’ report at The Jamestown Foundation, titled “Death from the Skies: An Overview of the CIA’s Drone Campaign in Pakistan – Part One” and published on Sept. 25, 2009. Dr. Williams identified the Lashkar al Zil by name, and also identified Khalid Habib as the former commander. These two facts were first reported by The Long War Journal but were not cited in the Jamestown report.
While it is certainly good to see al Qaeda’s Shadow Army finally getting the press it deserves — particularly as the debate over al Qaeda’s involvement in Afghanistan is raging and will shape future policy — it would be nice to see LWJ get proper credit for its contributions.
While most news organizations have fairly and properly cited LWJ reports (and these citations are in turn recognized in the “LWJ in the News” section on the front page), there has been a systematic problem with other analysts, organizations, and even academics using LWJ‘s research and analysis without attribution. For instance, this analysis by Dr. Chris Mason published at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute makes arguments identical to those provided here at LWJ on the very esoteric issue of the infighting between Mullah Nazir and the Uzbeks in 2007 and 2008 in South Waziristan. There is very little chance that two people could draw the exact same conclusions on this issue. Yet LWJ was not cited.
LWJ is a small shoestring operation that depends on recognition of its contributions and the support such recognition brings to stay afloat. A question for readers with knowledge of the publishing world: What do you think is the most effective way to ensure that LWJ is given proper credit, such as the credit given the New York Times or AFP (both of which are cited directly in Williams’ report)? And how would you handle instances of inadequate citation, or worse?
Dr. Williams responded to an intrepid reader’s email (thanks A Mac!), which was posted in the comments section. Many thanks to Dr. Williams for acknowledging and addressing the problem. Here is the reply:
“I have found the Long War Journal’s study on Predator drones to be a gold mine of hitherto unreported information and found it be incredibly useful in writing my own article. I cited it in my original article but the editors at Jamestown Foundation removed my citation when it went to press. For this you have my sincerest apologies. I am writing up a more extensive version of the article and will certainly insist that your article gets credit there. Many thanks for your ground breaking work.”
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