I saw the movie “Fight Club” when it came out (never read the book) and loved it. I can only imagine that being in a Jihadi cell must be a lot like living in “Fight Club”: living in a crappy, run-down place, baking all sorts of chemicals for a variety of things in the same place where food is prepped, breaking into places to steal resources and training to fight. Then you go out to accomplish a mission that is probably more symbolic than actually effective, and half the time you are successful and frightening, and the other half of the time you just end up looking like a sack of spoiled hamburger.
And all that time, you can’t talk about it.
Of course, people can’t help but talk about it. Either through a conscious desire to boast and gain validation, or just by accidentally letting enough slip that people figure it out when enough the puzzle pieces have fallen into place. Such it is with Achmed, who finds out who the guys are in his neighborhood just by listening and putting the pieces in place. I mentioned advantages that locals have in counter-insurgency operations; it’s not just knowing informal networks of people but the nuances of the language –knowing when someone is talking around a subject but not actually addressing it and such.