Friday, June 29, 2012

Victory Over al-Qaeda?

Peter Bergen thinks al-Qaeda is finished:
"Al Qaeda has one senior leader left, Ayman al-Zawahiri, a black hole of charisma who took over the group after the death of Osama bin Laden. He inherited the Blockbuster Video of global jihad and has done nothing to resuscitate it...
"Al Qaeda hasn’t conducted a successful attack in the West since the bombings on London’s transportation system seven years ago that killed 52 commuters. And the terrorist group, of course, hasn’t carried out an attack in the States since 9/11.
"Even terrorists influenced by al Qaeda-like ideas have only killed 17 people in the United States since 9/11.  About the same number of Americans are killed every year by dogs. In other words, in the United States during the past decade, dogs have been around ten times more deadly than jihadist terrorists."
Bergen also notes the movement's political irrelevance in the Arab world, where its influence has actually decreased sharply amidst the region's political transformations of the past year, as well as the fact that the United States is much more alert and adept at counter-terrorism then we were 11 years ago.  He notes that while al-Qaeda affiliates outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region are more capable than they were, their plots have also failed.

If and when the United States gets to al-Zawahiri, I think it would be a great opportunity to declare victory over the organization which attacked us on September 11 while maintaining an alertness to its copycats in Yemen and North Africa so that they stay on their losing streak.  It may be that the Obama administration is setting up doing just that:
"In a televised address from Bagram Air Base, Obama said it was time to transition U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, noting that the Taliban's momentum has been slowed, Afghan security forces have been built up and bin Laden and much of al-Qaeda's top leadership has been taken out.
"'Over the last three years, the tide has turned,' Obama said. 'The goal that I set — to defeat al-Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild — is within reach.'



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