Al Qaeda Ten Years Later

Sep 10th, 2011 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

After US SEALS killed Osama bin-Laden, they brought home a significant amount of intelligence from more than 100 computer storage devices, including thumb drives, DVDs and CDs, and more than a dozen computers or hard drives collected from his compound.  According to columnist David Ignatius, three major themes emerge from all this intelligence:

  1. Bin Laden retained until his death a passion to launch a significant attack against the US, ideally linked to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  From the data there is nothing specific about the successful recruiting of operatives to carry out such an attack.
  2. Bin Laden was a hands-on ?chief executive.?  He maintained a significant role in planning operations and in all kinds of planning decisions.  He was not detached but deeply involved at almost all levels of al Qaeda.  His successor, Zawahiri, does not enjoy the support or allegiance that bin Laden had.
  3. Bin Laden and al Qaeda were suffering acutely from the drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan.  It was increasingly difficult for them to train, communicate, travel and recruit because of these attacks.

Furthermore, bin Laden worried that al Qaeda was losing support and status among Muslims and that the US had succeeded in distancing al Qaeda from the perceived core values of Islam.  As Ignatius argues, ?The al Qaeda that emerges from these documents is a badly battered and disoriented group.  .  . [it is] an organization that is down but not out.?  There are no specific plots targeting the US from these documents but all recognize that it is what we do not know about al Qaeda that is most dangerous.  As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we must thank the Lord for the vigilance of our government and our allies in so successfully decimating this murderous organization.  But it is also imperative that we petition Him for His ongoing mercy in checking the evil that al Qaeda represents.  It is a dastardly entity that will remain a serious and viable threat to the United States.  May God in His mercy keep them in check!

See David Ignatius in the Washington Post (23 August 2011). PRINT PDF

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