Winning: Al Qaeda Getting Tagged as a Loser


May 4, 2007: It's important to realize the difference between the goals of al Qaeda and those of the Taliban and other Islamist movements. They may overlap, but they're not the same. The Taliban wants power in Afghanistan, the Kashmiri extremists want to control Kashmir, the Iraqi Sunni Arabs want to regain control of Iraq, and so on. Arguably, these groups can be coaxed into cooperating, but eventually their nationalist goals will conflict with al Qaeda's universalist ones. Al Qaeda wants a vague millennial "caliphate" and isn't going to change.

For the sake of achieving common goals, al Qaeda and these other Islamic extremist groups have cooperated. But as al Qaeda continues to fail at achieving anything of substance, there is growing friction with local groups. In Pakistan, several hundred al Qaeda members were recently killed when long-standing frictions boiled over. Same deal in Iraq, where al Qaeda and local Islamic radical groups have been sniping at each other for several years.

Throughout the Islamic world, there has developed a schism among Islamic extremists. The really hard core types side with al Qaeda. These days, al Qaeda is more of an ideology than an organization. Those who choose to be all that they can be, label themselves al Qaeda. But they are a minority. Most Islamic extremists are inflamed by local issues. In case after case, the "more-Islamic-than-thou" attitudes of the al Qaeda folks causes hard feelings. And more and more, the bad feelings are morphing into civil war. The terrorists are turning on each other, which is not an entirely bad thing.


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