Terça-feira, 14 de Setembro de 2010

Nine years after 9/11: Past achievements and the road ahead

By Diogo Noivo

 

Almost a decade after the terrorist attacks of September 11, one naturally tends to do a balance of achievements and failures in the fight against al-Qaeda. Many analysts and commentators have their own interpretation of what happened in the course of these nine years.

Daniel Byman notices the triumph of counterterrorism policies in the US, as well as the pressure on al-Qaeda that the war in Afghanistan has successfully created, although he is cautious enough to recognize that the problem is far from being resolved.

Bruce Riedel goes straight to the point: al-Qaeda remains alive and deadly. Riedel then continues with his own reading into the nebulous and controversial organizational structure of al-Qaeda.

Bruce Hoffman highlights the increased complexity and diversity of the threat. Hoffman also points out the terrorist radicalization and recruitment taking place within the US.

The above mentioned analysts provide examples of the many possible evaluations of what has happened since 2001.

Here are some other facts and ideas that can be useful for the future:

[1] The main victims of jihadism are and always have been Muslims and Islam. Hence, al-Qaeda and similar groups have lost popular support in Islamic countries. Although its structure is quite atypical if compared with terrorist groups from the recent past, al-Qaeda cannot work (or survive) without a constituency. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy chief, is well aware of that since he has repeatedly tried to moderate the modus operandi of Abu Musaib al-Zarqawi, the former and ruthless leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

[2] The war in Afghanistan has had significant costs at the human, financial and political levels. At the same time, it has crippled bin Laden’s organization.

[3] Osama bin Laden is still at large. His arrest or death would be an unequivocal political victory, but would have little (if any) positive effect on the overall counterterrorism efforts. Ideas do not die with the men that advocate them. Furthermore, jihadism is based on a sense of community, and regardless of what we make of al-Qaeda, its affiliates and offshoots, it is now clear that Islamist terrorism is bigger than bin Laden and ‘al-Qaeda Central’.

[4] In spite of its religious outlines, the problem is political. Therefore, it is important to find an efficient and common counter-narrative to debunk al-Qaeda’s speech.

 

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