Winning: Progress Report On Terrorism

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June 26, 2006: Keeping track of who's winning in the war on terror is complicated by the fact that the most reliable numbers, on who has done what, are classified. You have to keep this stuff secret so the enemy doesn't know what you know about him (which often provides indications of how you got the information.) But there is a lot of stuff in the open.

The last year has been pretty dreadful for al Qaeda. In the last two months, for example, major cells were shut down in Malaysia, Canada, Egypt, Britain and the United States. On June 7th, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was killed, and many of his key records captured. That led to the death or capture of nearly a thousand al Qaeda members in Iraq, including several more of the "Ten Most Wanted."

It gets worse. Saudi Arabia, where most of the manpower, and money, came from to start al Qaeda, declared the terrorist organization dead within the kingdom. That may be unduly optimistic, since on June 23rd, a policemen was killed during an attempt to arrest six terrorists planning attacks on Saudi oil facilities. The six fought to the death instead. But there hasn't been an al Qaeda attack in the kingdom since last February, and no successful attacks in over a year.

In the last year there have been no al Qaeda attacks in Western Europe or North America. There is still a lot of al Qaeda bloodshed in Iraq, but this has backfired. Killing lots of Moslems, even if most of them are "heretical" (to al Qaeda) Shia, only turns the Islamic world against you. For most Iraqis, al Qaeda is a hated organization.

Before the Afghan Taliban were driven out of power in 2001, al Qaeda was a hated organization there. Ironically, al Qaeda has helped finance a comeback attempt by the Taliban. This effort has made a lot of noise, but the net effect has been a lot of dead Taliban. As is their custom, al Qaeda in Afghanistan are killing lots of Afghans.

There has been some Islamic terrorist activity in Pakistan, India, Philippines and Indonesia. In all of those places, al Qaeda is not doing any better. As an organization, al Qaeda is running on fumes and hype. Islamic radicalism isn't doing very well either. Al Qaeda has pitched itself as the poster boy for Islamic terrorism, and have produced a record to die for. Literally.

Al Qaeda has turned itself into a powerful counter-terrorism weapon. It's murderous tactics have made it unwelcome in its homeland (Saudi Arabia) and hated in its current main theater of operations (Iraq.) Admiration for al Qaeda grows with distance from its operations. So the most enthusiastic al Qaeda fans are among Moslem populations in non-Moslem areas like Europe and North America. That creates a lot of Internet traffic to monitor, and many low level suspects to look after.

Al Qaeda, and the other Islamic terror groups are down, but not out. They are still dangerous. It's a long war, but the bad guys are losing at the moment.

 


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