How Al Qaeda Lost the Popularity Contest

25.02.10

Categorie: David Axe, Extremists |
Tags:

Al Qaeda.

by DAVID AXE

“In an important way, Al Qaeda has been defeated,” Jon Alterman writes for the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

At one time, many Muslims admired the organization for its courageous opposition to Western domination, and many Westerners feared that Al Qaeda might draw Muslim communities into a battle with the West. Immediately after the events of September 11, 2001, it was not always clear how the battle for Muslim hearts and minds would end up. With the passage of time, we now know, and Al Qaeda has lost.

Which jibes with the consensus among analysts that the main Al-Qaeda organization is also out of money, for it relied heavily on fraudulent “charitable” donations for its revenue. Without a popular base, that money dried up. To be clear, small-scale terror is not expensive: even major attacks such as those on September 11, 2001 can cost less than a million dollars. Still, a lack of financing limits Al Qaeda’s options and increases its risks.

That the main Al-Qaeda group is broke and growing unpopular does not diminish the danger posed by “franchise” groups that adopt Al-Qaeda ideas and branding in pursuit of particular political goals in particular venues. Take, for example, Al Shabab, the Somali extremist insurgent group that aims to retake that country from the U.S.- and U.N.-backed moderate Islamic government. Shabab claims Al-Qaeda ties and has adopted Al-Qaeda-style tactics, but its true goals are nationalistic, however bad they might be for the average Somali.

Nor does the collapse of Al Qaeda immediately mean an end to freelance terror attacks by highly-motivated individuals. And even Al-Qaeda-supported attacks will continue, though they will probably — hopefully — be ever smaller and rarer.

“It is true that Al Qaeda continues to threaten Western interests,” Alterman writes, “and the organization and its affiliates are likely to do so for some time.”

But the task of containing the damage from perhaps a few thousand fighters is a more achievable task than defeating more than a billion people. We feared that we would have to fight the larger battle, but the battle against a few thousand is the one we are fighting.

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World Politics Review: Somali Forces Prepare Counter-Islamist Offensive
Kenyan Veep Warns of Somali Extremists
Somali Insurgents Claim Boost from Yemen
The War Is Boring Al-Shabab Primer
U.S. Army Africa Boss: “The U.S. Army is Responding to the Challenge in Africa … “
U.S. Army in Africa: Dodging the Continent’s Worst Wars
World Politics Review: Counter-Finance Campaign Won’t Beat Terrorists in Yemen

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6 Responses to “How Al Qaeda Lost the Popularity Contest”

  1. [...] course, these days Al Qaeda is more of a terror brand with no single leadership cadre, so perhaps “loss of public support” is a more likely [...]

  2. Layla says:

    alqaeda

  3. EDWIN WACHIRA NDWIGA says:

    MY DREAM IS TO FIGHT THE ALQAEDA BY BECOMING A SECRET AGENT.I AM A KENYAN BY NATIONALITY AND I KNOW I CAN.PLEASE TEXT BACK

  4. rainman says:

    out law muslium beliefs.stop them turm them out capture bin laden s family there is much we could do if we took these blow hards seriously.honor killings,maltreatment women
    it just goes on on with these satanic people cut off there
    belif system teach the real BiBle to them not the one mohomud injected made up perverted.mohomud way or beheaded
    infidels.so bigot liar led by fear insanity forced on people
    for ages so OUT LAW IT ITS HARMFUL ALREADY>>>0 tolerance
    0 support for this criminal faith

  5. rainman says:

    all the men in power the billionares the millionares the leaders none have common sense,like getting involved
    cowards lead us we need to band them there way of life
    because it invokes harm death violance bigotry destrucation
    lets see 9/11 was the 28th assult on America embassys the
    hostages over the years the cowards did little it grew woarse and will continue untill we band them out law them
    gettem out of our country out law there faith period we need
    hard hitting leader not yes man we need true americans not
    sisy wealthy to lead our country

  6. Truth says:

    Stop living in the dull and really do some good research stop claiming you want Muslims our of your country while its actually NATIVES country but you guys forgot that you took the land from other people. Anyway you guys are letting your men and women fight Israels fight. Open your mind have a fucking opinion don’t play the politics game. they are all a bunch of liars just wanting to gain money and power. Do some research and stop blaming fucking people . Every group has extremists Muslims (bin laden) and Christians(KONY) yes Kony is Christian and his main mission was to create a Christian state . We don’t sit here blaming all the Christians for his mistakes . Dont be ignorant just because one guy does horrible things doesn’t mean his whole religion or race is the same .

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