Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: al Qaeda struggling to remain RELEVANT

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    Friday, May 02, 2008

    al Qaeda struggling to remain RELEVANT

    Ayman al-Zawahiri praising Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after the death of the latter in June 2006Image via Wikipediaal Qaeda struggling to remain RELEVANT

    Despite an apparent upsurge of terrorism, including the attack on President Karzai of Afghanistan, a return of suicide bombings in Iraq and a spate of assassinations in Lebanon and North Africa, in the Muslim heartlands al-Qaeda is on the retreat. The call on devout Muslims to purge the Islamic world of its corrupt rulers, that fell on such fertile ground in the Arabian peninsula, is losing its pull. In Saudi Arabia, a police crackdown and the arrest and re-education of scores of extremist preachers have persuaded thousands to renounce their former loyalty to Osama bin Laden. In Iraq, the targeting of civilians by suicide bombers and al-Qaeda's torture of sectarian enemies has so sickened tribal leaders that most are joining in the fight against foreign extremists. And in North Africa, security forces have recently killed some 20 suspected militants.

    The virulent ideology, spawned by anger at Western troops in Saudi Arabia and the perceived corruption of ruling elites, has, according to senior intelligence officers, been dissipated as terrorist groups increasingly become a front for drug smuggling, extortion, crime or ethnic hatred. Frustrated zealots have seen their attempts to rid Muslim societies of Western influence mocked and thwarted. Moderates have spoken out, Governments across the Middle East have woken up to the threat and nowhere has crude Islamism triumphed. Another spectacular atrocity remains a possibility, but the core ideology has less traction across the Muslim world.


    Al-Qaeda is dwindling in Afghanistan and Iraq
    By David Ignatius
    Commentary by
    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    The most interesting discovery during a visit to Jalalabad, where Osama bin Laden planted his flag in 1996, is that Al-Qaeda seems to have all but disappeared. The group is on the run, too, in Iraq, and that raises some interesting questions about how to pursue this terrorist enemy in the future.

    "Al-Qaeda is not a topic of conversation here," says Colonel Mark Johnstone, the deputy commander of Task Force Bayonet, which oversees four provinces surrounding Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Lieutenant Colonel Pete Benchoff agrees: "We're not seeing a lot of Al-Qaeda fighters. They've shifted here to facilitation and support."

    You hear the same story farther north from the officers who oversee the provinces along the Pakistan border. A survey conducted last November and December in Nuristan, once an Al-Qaeda stronghold, found that the group barely registered as a security concern among the population.

    The enemy in these eastern provinces is a loose amalgam of insurgent groups, mostly linked to traditional warlords. It's not the Taliban, much less Al-Qaeda. "I don't use the word 'Taliban,'" says Alison Blosser, a State Department political adviser to the military commanders in Jalalabad, in the sector known as Regional Command East. "In RC East we have a number of disparate groups. Command and control are not linked up. The young men will fight for whoever is paying the highest rate."


    Islam is rebuking al Qaeda.


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