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Nice to know even al-Qaida has bureaucratic snafus

This undated file image taken from video provided by the SITE Intel Group made available Thursday Jan. 17, 2013, purports to show terrorist leader Moktar Belmoktar. In an Oct. 3 internal al-Qaida letter found by the AP, Belmoktar is excoriated for his unwillingness to follow orders and critiqued for his failure to carry out any large attack. His ego bruised, he quit and formed his own group to compete directly with his former employer. Within months, he claimed responsibility for two attacks so large they rivaled the biggest operations undertaken by al-Qaida's wing on the continent. (AP Photo/SITE Intel Group, File)

After years of trying to discipline him, the leaders of al-Qaida’s North African branch sent one final letter to their most difficult employee. In page after scathing page, they described how he didn’t answer his phone when they called, failed to turn in his expense reports, ignored meetings and refused time and again to carry out orders.

“It is amazing,” says Ross and Burbank host Luke Burbank, “even for something like terrorism, when you have enough people involved, you get bureaucracy, you get sort of job performance evaluations.”

The al-Qaida letter, found by The Associated Press inside a building formerly occupied by their fighters in Mali, is an intimate window into the inner workings of a highly structured terrorist organization that requires its commanders to file monthly expense reports.

“I wonder if there is like an al -Qaida HR video they have to watch about sexual harassment,” jokes Burbank.

In the letter, the 14-member Shura Council, enumerate their complaints against the difficult employee, identified as terrorist Moktar Belmoktar, in 30 successive bullet points.

“Abu Abbas is not willing to follow anyone,” they say, referring to him by his nom de guerre, Khaled Abu Abbas. “He is only willing to be followed and obeyed.”

Sounding like managers in any company, the Shura leaders accuse Belmoktar of not being able to get along with his peers. They charge that he recently went to Libya without permission from the chapter. And they complain that the last unit they sent Belmoktar for backup in the Sahara spent a full three years trying to contact him before giving up.

“This is clear insubordination. If only there was a way for al-Qaida to get people to listen to them,” says co-host Dave Ross.

“I hate to see what the firing process is like for al-Qaida,” says Ross. “Do you suppose they just put your boxes on the desk and give you a security escort to the elevator?”

Luke says they likely first have to establish a paper trail; “other people have to formally complain so they can put that in your file.”

Belmoktar reportedly responded the way talented employees with bruised egos have in corporations the world over: He quit and formed his own competing terrorist group.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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