Monday, June 13, 2011

Is al Qaeda beginning to show signs of Defeat?

Al Qaeda’s media arm, al-Shahab, released a new video on June 2nd. It is mostly in Arabic and does not contain much that is new but it does bring up an interesting question. You see it is a call for individuals to raise up and attack Western Countries from within. They are no longer calling on potential jihadists to come to them to be trained and equipped then return to do harm, Now they openly admit doing that “is too dangerous”. Instead, they are asking for individuals to go to gun shows, buy guns, and start shooting people. Simple, hard to detect and stop, and still deadly effective.

The video also called for jihadist geeks to sit at their computers and find ways to attack military, finacial and infrastructure systems 0the idea being that we are so reliant on our computers that this kind of attack can cause massive chaos and disruption. It is also very hard to detect ahead of time and to stop.

None of this is particularly new. They have been calling for these kinds of attacks for years now. What is new is the emphasis being placed on this and the admission that “coming to them is too dangerous”.

Since killing people is not difficult, and even amateurs can be deadly, and such attacks can be conducted relatively easily — evidenced by Hasan’s actions at Fort Hood — it raises an interesting question: Why haven’t we seen more of these attacks?

Of course, we’ve seen some thwarted attempts like the plot in New York in May 2011 and a successful attack in March on U.S. Air Force personnel in Frankfurt, Germany, but overall, the jihadist message urging Muslims to take up arms and conduct attacks simply does not appear to be gaining much traction among Muslims in the West — and the United States in particular. We have simply not seen the groundswell of grassroots attacks that was initially anticipated. The pleas of al Qaeda appear to be falling upon a lot of deaf ears and do not seem to resonate with Muslims in the West in the same way that the cries of the pro-democracy movements in the Middle East have in recent months.

The theory is that these grassroots efforts are supposed to supplement the efforts of al Qaeda to attack the West. But in practice, al Qaeda and its franchise groups have been rendered transnationally impotent in large part by the counterterrorism efforts of the United States and its allies since 9/11. Jihadist groups been able to conduct attacks in the regions where they are based, but grassroots operatives have been forced to shoulder the bulk of the effort to attack the West. In fact, the only successful attacks conducted inside the United States since 9/11 have been conducted by grassroots operatives, and in any case, grassroots plots and attacks have been quite infrequent. Despite the ease of conducting such attacks, they have been nowhere near as common as jihadist leaders hoped — and American security officials feared.

One reason for this paucity of attacks may be the jihadist message being sent. In earlier days, the message of Islamist militants like Abdullah Azzam was “Come, join the caravan.” This message suggested that militants who answered the call would be trained, equipped and put into the field of battle under competent commanders. It was a message of strength and confidence — and a message that stands in stark contrast to As-Sahab’s current message of “Don’t come and join us, it is too dangerous — conduct attacks on your own instead.” The very call to leaderless resistance is an admission of defeat and an indication that the jihadists might not be receiving the divine blessing they claim.

Live Long and Prosper.....

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