Winning: Al Qaeda Adapts


July 1, 2007: Al Qaeda continues to take a beating, but you can ignite a media firestorm just saying that. One of the most irritating things about the war on terror, is trying to keep score. Unlike a conventional war, where you can measure territory won and lost, as well as casualties, the current conflict does not really lend itself to those measurements. But there are things that can be measured.

Al Qaeda operations continue to decline, as the number of al Qaeda members, and leaders killed or captured, goes up. Then there's al Qaeda media activity. Up until last Fall, 93 percent of al Qaeda Internet announcements were video. Since then, most of them are just audio, and sounding increasingly less confident. There is good reason for that lack of confidence. American and Pakistani attacks (usually with missiles or smart bombs) along the Afghan border in the last two years have killed an increasing number of foreign fighters. DNA tests can tell if someone is from the region, or elsewhere in the world. But that's not what worries al Qaeda, it's the increasing amount of accurate information the counter-terror forces are getting. No one is talking, but al Qaeda chatter claims that either the Americans have some wondrous new bit of technology, or Yankee money has corrupted more al Qaeda members to give up information. The Taliban is suffering the same kind of casualties, and coming up with the same paranoid theories. More people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, some of them innocent, are being accused of spying, and killed by the Taliban and al Qaeda. Some of those multi-million dollar rewards for terrorists have been collected. Some openly, some more discretely. There is some reason to be paranoid.

Al Qaeda is eagerly recruiting other Islamic terrorist organizations, usually ones that have recently taken a big beating in their home country, to become part of al Qaeda. That's about the only growth al Qaeda is experiencing. In Iraq, former Sunni Arab allies of al Qaeda have openly turned on the organization, and are eagerly hunting them down and killing them. Al Qaeda is fighting back, now sending death squads after Sunni Arab tribal chiefs. Does that sound like something a winner would be doing?

Al Qaeda is having some success in the Western media, and among Moslems living in Europe. But those expatriate Moslems are handicapped by many of their brethren who are not enthusiastic about Islamic terrorism. The police get tips, make arrests, and al Qaeda losses a few more true believers. Al Qaeda is desperate for another highly visible attack in the West. Many such operations are apparently being planned, but by amateurs who can get no help from al Qaeda experts. Most of al Qaedas traveling experts are dead or in prison. Inspiring amateurs to attempt poorly planned attacks, like the recent ones in Britain, only discourage recruits. That's because another bunch of wannabes get sent away for long prison terms. This is a fate worse than death for Islamic terrorists. There are no 72 virgins in Western prisons, unless you consider the fact that you may be turned into one.




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