While Islamic radicals, in general, never did like the United States, or any of the wealthy Western infidel nations, their main goal was always to overthrow the kings and dictators who ruled Islamic nations, and replace them with religious leaders, answerable only to God. This effort had been gathering strength since the 1950s, when Islamic and socialist/communist factions in the Moslem world began their competition for popular support. The socialist, non-religious crowd had the lead until the 1970s, when their inability to produce prosperity, or much else beyond slogans, secret police and empty promises, caused the Islamic radicals to become increasingly popular. But one Western import, the modern police state, combined with the traditional ruthlessness of Moslem despots, proved potent enough to defeat the Islamic radicals, and their terror tactics.
In reaction to defeat by Moslem secret police, Osama bin Laden decided to take the war to non-Moslems. Meanwhile, the majority of Islamic terrorists continued the war at home. And many of these groups were making some progress. But for the average Islamic terrorist, September 11, 2001 was a disaster. They gained some more media attention, but lost much more. The Islamic radicals never had a shortage of recruits. Much more scarce were trained and talented managers and technicians. Hundreds of these fellows died, or were imprisoned after 911. While many belonged to al Qaeda, most did not. In the West, there's a tendency to assume that all Islamic terrorists are somehow associated with al Qaeda. Such has never been the case, although al Qaeda, and some other Islamic terrorist organizations, sometimes allow the public to believe this. In fact, most Islamic terrorists are local operations, still intent on overthrowing the local government. But the myth of al Qaeda, the globe straddling Islamic terror network, is an attractive fantasy, and does help somewhat with fund raising and recruiting.
The local Islamic terrorist organizations are still paying for al Qaeda's sins. Before September 11, 2001, Moslem countries got little help from the West in dealing with their local Islamic terrorists. In fact, many in the West, both at the government and grass roots level, considered many of those local Islamic terrorist organizations to be "freedom fighters." No one was reading the fine print, and Arab governments were very unhappy with their inability to get Western governments to understand. To make matters worse, Western governments often let in Islamic terrorists and gave them refugee status, and allowed them to do fund raising and organizing. All that changed after September 11, 2001. So you can imagine how angry most Islamic terrorists are at al Qaeda. But few of these other Islamic terrorists could come out and complain publicly. That's because al Qaeda, and the Western mass media, made the 911 attacks appear as immensely popular to Moslems everywhere.
But captured documents and interrogations over the last five years have made it clear that al Qaeda's "reckless" attacks on the United States were not appreciated by most Islamic terrorist organizations, especially the leadership. No longer can Islamic terrorists run and take refuge in the West. Well, they still do, but it's much more difficult. Fund raising in the West, and even in Moslem nations yields much less cash than before 911.
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was seen as yet another disaster (for Islamic terrorism) caused by al Qaeda's rash 911 attacks. While Saddam was a main target for Islamic radicals, his Sunni Arab government was also a bulwark against one of the primary competitors of Sunni Arab Islamic radicals (like al Qaeda). Iran is run by Shia Moslems, who are pushing their own, Shia, brand of Islamic radicalism. Ultimately, only one flavor of Islamic radicalism can rule the world. And because of 911, America turned a Shia majority Arab country into a democracy. Not only did that put the Sunni Arab minority out of power, but gave all Arabs an alternative to religious or secular dictatorship. Islamic radicals consider democracy an un-Islamic invention from the West. If it catches on, as it appears to be doing in Iraq, it will cause Islamic radicals no end of trouble.
Al Qaeda desperately tries to spin all this as some kind of benefit for Islamic radicalism. But the other Islamic radicals, who are still taking the hits for 911, know better.
Most Islamic terrorists are not happy with the September 11, 2001 attacks, and consider these particular terrorist acts as an example of poor leadership. While spectacular, and applauded by Moslems worldwide, who liked to think that the source of their problems was some magical, but evil, foreigners, and not their own neighbors and themselves, those attacks brought massive retribution. For Islamic terrorists, the lights went off not only in Afghanistan, but all over the world. Years of effort in building up local terrorist organizations, was undone in months. It became more difficult to move around, to raise money and to communicate. Osama bin Ladens decision to attack America had been a disaster for Islamic terrorists everywhere.