Counter-Terrorism: Al Qaeda No Longer Exists


February 28, 2006: Al Qaeda no longer exists. The feared international terrorist organization is now simply a brand name adopted by local terrorist groups. Osama bin Laden won't be collection franchising fees or royalties, but he will get a nod in his direction from those who are using the name he made infamous. "Al Qaeda in Iraq" and "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" are but two of the more famous autonomous spin-offs. The independence of "Al Qaeda in Iraq" can be seen from how the Iraqi branched ignored bin Laden pleas to ease off on attacking civilians. The Saudi "branch" has also gone its own way, and not been shy about saying so.

In other parts of the world, any real hard core local Islamic terrorists can get away with calling themselves a branch of al Qaeda. This is especially true if they have some Arab members. There are plenty of young Arab men willing to go abroad and fight for the cause of Islamic world domination. That's certainly easier than trying to do it at home. The Arabian peninsula is currently a very hostile environment for Islamic terrorists.

Counter-terrorism experts are also finding that many of these eager Islamic terrorists are basically young guys out to have some adventure. While the religious angle cannot be eliminated, a lot of what propels these terrorist wannabes is the same urge to mayhem that has propelled some young men for thousands of years. Girls may just want to have fun, buy guys want to kill. The old urge to, "live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse" may not work for suicide bombers, but two out of three ain't bad. And even the "beautiful corpse" angle has been neatly addressed by the al Qaeda practice of having suicide bombers leave behind video messages, so people know what these heroes looked like before work related conditions rearranged their features. Alas, many pictures of jihadi body parts have shown up on the web. Somehow, a bloody, decapitated, and still recognizable, head lying in the gutter diminishes the heroic image somewhat. Not such a big deal for the hero, but it's hard on the recruiters.

Because al Qaeda no longer exists, it cannot be destroyed. But it can be neutralized. Just as the once feared Anarchists (the Al Qaeda of a century ago) were pretty much wiped out by the 1930s, but lived on in spirit. The Anarchist brand, and reputation, lives on with any bunch of spirited youngsters who are willing to break some windows, wear black, and invoke a long dead terrorist organization. Thus, there will come a day, hopefully soon, when al Qaeda will be just another buzzword for bad behavior.




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