Winning: Al Qaeda's Score Card


October 17, 2007: Trying to keep track of al Qaeda's progress in the war on terror is difficult because a lot of the information about the organization, and its losses, or aborted operations, is kept secret. That's done to protect sources, and not to alert some al Qaeda members that they are being tracked. However, the general decline in al Qaeda terror attacks, and growing number of known al Qaeda dead and arrested, indicates they are not doing too well.

Another indicator, not widely reported in the West, is the ongoing decline of al Qaeda's popularity in the Arab world, and among Moslems in general. That stems from two factors. First, there's the general lack of al Qaeda success. Second, there's the large number of Moslems being killed by al Qaeda attacks, particularly in Iraq. Indeed, Iraq has proved to be the graveyard, not just of many al Qaeda operatives, but of the organizations reputation as a defender of the Islam.

While al Qaeda can make a case to Sunni conservatives, that the terror attacks on Iraqi Shia are a righteous blow against heretics, this only appeals to a minority of Moslems. Most of the billion or so Moslems on the planet are appalled at the slaughter of Moslems. Al Qaeda tries to make a big deal about its battle to drive the Americans out of Iraq, but they are having more success with that in the American Congress and in the U.S. media, than they are in Iraq itself. Only about two percent of the people killed in Iraq are Americans, the rest are Iraqis or foreign Moslems. Not exactly a striking victory for al Qaeda.

This year, al Qaeda has seen Iraqis, especially Sunni Arab Iraqis, turn on them in growing numbers. The U.S. "Surge Offensive" begun earlier this year capitalized on that, and shut down more and more al Qaeda cells in Iraq. Worse, in the last few months, several key al Qaeda leaders were killed or captured, and many of their records, usually on laptop computers, were captured. U.S. forces have long had a drill for exploiting finds like this. The computer data is quickly gone over for names and locations of other al Qaeda operations, and within hours, more raids follow. Many American commanders are complaining of a shortage of al Qaeda targets to go after, which has made the Iranian backed Shia terrorist groups nervous enough to offer ceasefires and calls for negotiations.

Pakistan, or at least the tribal areas along the Afghan border, which was shaping up to be al Qaedas next refuge, has turned into another al Qaeda disaster. First there was a major battle between some of the Pushtun tribes and groups of non-Pakistani al Qaeda. These terrorists groups had tried to strong arm tribesmen. That went on for over a year, until the tribes struck back. Hundreds of al Qaeda members died, and more fled across the border into Afghanistan. But in Pakistan, you don't need al Qaeda if you are looking for Islamic radicals. Groups like the Taliban have been around for decades. Many of the Pushtun tribes have long been advocates of strict Islam, and willing to kill for it. But since the 1970s, many Pakistanis have turned to Islamic radicalism, and have been killing each other for religious and ethnic reasons. The Taliban represent tribal attitudes, and a popular feeling among uneducated tribesmen that their religious conservatism makes them superior to the better educated, and wealthier Pakistanis down on the plains. This is a conflict that has been going on for thousands of years, and has nothing to do with al Qaeda, or Islam, for that matter.

North Africa, and Africa in general, have proved inhospitable for al Qaeda. Nigeria and Somalia have witnessed a lot of Islamic radicalism of late, but not much hospitality for the terrorists, even among Moslems. Europe has been a comfortable place for al Qaeda members to hide out. But the minute they start to put operations together, they bump up against some very professional intelligence organizations. And every time another al Qaeda member gets arrested in Europe, more European Moslems wish al Qaeda would go away, and stay away.

Al Qaeda is not defeated. Organizations like that never are. The Anarchists, sort of a secular al Qaeda that emerged in the late 19th century, were largely wiped out only in the late 1930s. But many energetic, although largely harmless, Anarchists are still among us. Same with al Qaeda. But they still have years, perhaps a decade, of death and destruction left in them. Most of the victims will continue to be Moslems, but the hatred for the infidels (non-Moslems) will continue until Islam itself changes.




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