Counter-Terrorism: The War Between Zarqawi and Bin Laden

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December 21, 2005: One American counter-terrorism strategy is working. Al Qaeda seems to be in some disarray. The group seems to be losing support in much of the Moslem world, and particularly among Arabs. Reportedly, most volunteers for Al Qaeda are now non-Arab Moslems, often from Central Asia.

This decline in influence is certainly due in large part to the adverse publicity that Al Qaeda in Iraq has gained because of its often indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and particularly in its targeting of Moslems who are openly opposed to the insurgency or who are leaders of the Shia movement. These policies were deliberately adopted by the organization's leader, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, reportedly against the wishes of Osama bin Laden.

This suggests that Al Qaeda may be having a crisis in its leadership. Osama bin Laden has not been heard from directly in more than a year. In contrast, the number two man in Al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri has produced eight or ten public statements, of in the form of video or audio messages over the internet, usually accompanied by a printed version as well, and even gave an interview that appeared on the internet on December 7th. Bin-Laden may just be lying low. But his long absence from "public" appearance may also suggest that he's either extremely isolated (getting to some areas along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier could easily take months) or may be no more than a figurehead. And while there have been erroneous reports of his death in the past, it's not a possibility that should be dismissed..

 


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