AL QAEDA’S LOSING STREAK…. The terrorist network has taken a beating recently. Good.
Analysts said Bin Laden’s death amounted to a double blow for Al Qaeda, after its sermons of anti-Western violence seemed to be rendered irrelevant by the wave of political upheaval rolling through the Arab world.
“It comes at a time when Al Qaeda’s narrative is already very much in doubt in the Arab world,” said Martin S. Indyk, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. “Its narrative was that violence was the way to redeem Arab honor and dignity. But Osama bin Laden and his violence didn’t succeed in unseating anybody.”
Right. Al Qaeda told the Muslim world that the only way to be free is to commit acts of violence. The terrorist network’s message has been proven false in recent months, rejected by the very people it was intended to influence.
It’s against this backdrop that al Qaeda was “diminished,” even before this year’s developments.
Indeed, the Guardian had a report in September 2009 on al Qaeda “finding it difficult to attract recruits or carry out spectacular operations in western countries.” Counter-terrorism officials said the terrorist network “faced a crisis that was severely affecting its ability to find, inspire and train willing fighters.”
The New York Times had a related report soon after, which reached a similar conclusion: “[I]n important ways, Al Qaeda and its ideology of global jihad are in a pronounced decline.”
Emile Nakhleh, who headed the CIA’s strategic analysis program on political Islam until 2006, noted that al Qaeda is finding it “harder to raise money.” Audrey Kurth Cronin, a professor at the National War College in Washington, added, “I think Al Qaeda is in the process of imploding. This is not necessarily the end. But the trends are in a good direction.”
And that was long before U.S. forces took out Osama bin Laden himself.
This is not to say the threat is gone; it’s not. The point is that the terrorist network that executed the attacks of 9/11 is weaker and is less capable, and this larger trend is clearly heartening.