March 17, 2014
AND STILLBORN, AT THAT:Al Qaeda's Brand is Dead (Zachary Keck, 3/17/14, National Interest)
As Al Qaeda's operational capability has withered, some observers have sought to reframe the terrorism threat to the U.S. and the West in terms of Al Qaeda's ideological appeal. According to this perspective, Al Qaeda continues to be a potent threat to the United States and the Western world because its ideology is spreading across the Arab world, and inspiring new groups that will attack the West.Posted by Orrin Judd at March 17, 2014 3:29 PM
Framing the threat in this way has the advantage of ensuring the Global War on Terror's longevity. Indeed, by this measurement the U.S. is still embroiled in WWII given that neo-Nazi groups continue to exist, and sometimes carry out terrorist attacks in the West.
But the larger problem with the argument that Al Qaeda's ideology is spreading is that it is completely inaccurate. The "Al Qaeda brand" was never as popular in the Arab world as it was portrayed in the West, and far from growing, its popularity has been rapidly declining in recent years. In fact, there are signs that Al Qaeda itself no longer believes in it.