January 11, 2010

NOT TO MENTION OBL IS DEAD:

Threats (Steve Coll, January 18, 2010, The New Yorker)

Osama bin Laden sought to lead the vanguard of a spreading revolution. Instead, he and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are hunkered down, presumably along the Afghan-Pakistani border, surrounded by only about two hundred hard-core followers. Their adherents in Yemen and Africa number no more than a few thousand. Al Qaeda in Iraq is a tiny fragment of its former self. Bin Laden’s relations with the Taliban seem brittle. Unlike Hezbollah, Al Qaeda provides no social services and thus has built no political movement. Unlike Hamas, its bloody nihilism has attracted no states that are willing to defend its legitimacy. In a world of at least one and a half billion Muslims, this does not a revolution, or even a vanguard, make.

Many of bin Laden’s declared goals, such as the removal of American soldiers from Muslim lands, still resonate in Islamic societies. Yet, in polls conducted across the Muslim world, large majorities repudiate Al Qaeda, and particularly its tactic of murdering civilians. It is common to observe that bin Laden’s poll ratings have collapsed in recent years because his violence has taken the lives of Muslims as well as infidels. Actually, polling shows that citizens of Islamic countries, as elsewhere, overwhelmingly disapprove of any indiscriminate killing, whatever the victims’ religious beliefs, and no matter the cause.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 11, 2010 1:10 PM
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