Monday, July 28, 2008

Is al-Qaida on the ropes?

Here's a link to the piece I did for the Register's Sunday Commentary section yesterday on the possibility that al-Qaida is losing support among the kinds of jihadist-oriented Muslims who should be ripe for recruiting. The possibility is fairly strong, but not all terrorism experts agree and evidence is pretty scant, especially since there's no evidence that any westernm intelligence agencies have penetrated al-Qaida. But the chief mufti of Saudia Arabia has issued a fatwa against Saudis joining "foreign fighters" and Saudi cleric who was bin Laden's intellectual hero has condemned al-Qaida, along with a raft of other former sympathizers. Although some former jihadists have come around to believing that violence in the name of jihad is un-Islamic, the criticism seems to have been precipitated by the fact that since 9/11 al-Qaida has killed mostly Muslims. I'm not about to write an obituary, but some straws in the wind include the fact that al-Qaida hasn't mounted a serious attack recently -- the London and Madrid bombings seem to have been locals "inspired" by al-Qaida but not operational arms of the core -- and even Bruce Hoffman (of Georgetown and Rand), who still thinks al-Qaida is dangerous, says it's markedly less capable than it was before 9/11. wrote in January that al-Qaida was on its last legs.

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