Al-Qaeda is losing

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7002256.ece

Al-Qaeda is losing. Prepare for a daring hit

From The Times January 26, 2010

The latest supposed message from Osama bin Laden underlines his weakness, not his strengthRichard Kemp 31 Comments
Recommend? (15) ‘God willing, our raids on you will continue,” said Osama bin Laden — or someone purporting to be him — in a message broadcast on al-Jazeera over the weekend. The blunt message to “Obama from Osama” is intended to reaffirm that, despite Barack Obama’s overtures to the Islamic world, he and his country remain infidels, every bit as evil as they were under George W. Bush.

But ignore the bloodcurdling rhetoric. That bin Laden was reduced to claiming that the failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up an airliner was comparable to 9/11 is a sign of al-Qaeda’s current parlous state. The new recording also revealed another weakness: al-Qaeda fears that it is losing the battle for hearts and minds.

President Obama and the Western world were not his true audience. His broadcast was aimed at Muslims — hence its focus on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, a cause that has never been important to the leader of al-Qaeda. Bin Laden knows well the powerful emotion inspired around the globe by the Palestinians’ plight. By feigning support for them he hopes to regain some of al-Qaeda’s dramatically diminished popularity.

Former sympathisers have become disillusioned by the death toll inflicted by bin Laden’s terrorists in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan; they have killed many more Muslims than non-Muslims since 9/11. The Combating Terrorism Centre in the US concludes that only 15 per cent of the 3,010 victims killed by al-Qaeda between 2004 and 2008 were Westerners.

But the loss of support is not bin Laden’s only concern: al-Qaeda’s leadership has been decapitated. After it was ejected from Afghanistan, key elements of the leadership fled to Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.

Those who went to Iraq butchered thousands, mainly fellow Muslims, but have now either been killed or are barely able to operate. The so-called “management council” that ended up in Iran — along with one of bin Laden’s wives, six children and 11 grandchildren — are under house arrest. The core leadership of al-Qaeda, on the run in Pakistan, are forced to spend most of their time and effort just staying alive. Pakistani military operations continue to damage their outer defence of Taleban fighters. And US drone strikes have killed key al-Qaeda figures, including the external operations chief, Abu Sulayman al-Jazairi, and the head of its weapons of mass destruction programme, Abu Khabab al-Masri.

For those terrorists who remain at large, the operating environment has become tough, as the unprecedented numbers of arrests and convictions in the US and UK demonstrate. Politicians and security chiefs in most Muslim countries have greatly increased their co-operation with Western agencies. Today the US no-fly list for terror suspects stands at 4,000 names; before 9/11 it was just 16.

But no security regime can ever be perfect, as the attempt to detonate a device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit shows. This was one of a series of strikes planned by al-Qaeda in the past 12 months. We saw the targeting of the New York subway system last autumn and the Fort Hood shooting. In Saudi Arabia al-Qaeda terrorists carried out an abortive suicide attack against Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, the Deputy Interior Minister. Its greatest recent strategic coup was a suicide bombing that killed seven CIA officers at a US forward base in Khost, Afghanistan.

None of this, though, will satisfy bin Laden. To achieve his aim of a global caliphate he needs to inflict mass casualties against “the enemies of Islam”. This means further spectaculars on the scale of 9/11 — or at least to compare with the crippling of the USS Cole in 2000 and the devastating attacks against US embassies in East Africa in 1998.

But al-Qaeda cannot succeed without an Afghan-style base from which to plan, train and launch attacks. That’s why the operations against al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan remain critical. Al-Qaeda does now have footholds in Yemen and Somalia. But its footing is not yet sure, and neither country adequately replicates the conditions of pre-9/11 Afghanistan.

In Mullah Omar’s Afghanistan, al-Qaeda could run a bureaucracy to rival our own Civil Service, operate a travel agency for jihadists and openly establish an office at Kandahar airport that turned out near-perfect forged passports.

Yemen, although struggling with internal insurgencies, is not a failed state. It enjoys considerable oil revenue, its Government accepts US military support and Yemen shares a land border with Saudi Arabia, whose security forces are working flat out to ensure that terrorists cannot operate with impunity on their borders.

Somalia, though, is a state in grave danger. The Islamist militia, al-Shabaab, control tracts of the country and share bin Laden’s fundamentalist views. Al-Qaeda is seeking to exploit Somalia, and its diaspora, as a fresh source of real estate, money and recruits.

But this has not been an easy task: so far al-Qaeda seems unconvinced that al-Shabaab is a suitable proxy in that country. Bin Laden had his fingers burnt by the rebranding of the murderous Group for Salafist Prayer and Combat in North Africa as “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb”. It went on to kill hundreds of Muslims, sullying the al-Qaeda brand in Islamic eyes.

Al-Qaeda has suffered serious setbacks but bin Laden and his lieutenants know that a spectacular attack against the West — not a boastful audio tape — could reinvigorate their cause. And they will stop at nothing to bring it about.

Colonel Richard Kemp is former chairman of the Government’s Cobra Intelligence Group and head of international terrorism for the Joint Intelligence Committee
 
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JJ sloan

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7002256.ece

Al-Qaeda is losing. Prepare for a daring hit

From The Times January 26, 2010

But ignore the bloodcurdling rhetoric. That bin Laden was reduced to claiming that the failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up an airliner was comparable to 9/11 is a sign of al-Qaeda’s current parlous state. The new recording also revealed another weakness: al-Qaeda fears that it is losing the battle for hearts and minds.

And then there is the announcement of the exit strategy for Afghanistan.
Osama to Obama: "Nevermind, game on again."
 

Frank S.

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I think the ritualized beheadings we saw a few years ago, recent as they may be, probably backfired some.
On the one hand, I like to imagine that it resulted in some unpublicized ferocious retaliation on our part (I hope), and on the other, I think it would have had an alienating effect on some muslims.

The following images are also a big part of how I believe we are beating them:

gi-and-dying-iraqi-girl-0_22_450_baby.jpg
babylc4.jpg

iraq-soldierHoldingIraqiChild.jpg


:2c:
 

Marauder06

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Al Qaeda is a poison brand and their star is no longer on the rise. They received an unmitigated ass whipping in Afghanistan, and I think it's only a matter of time before the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan get tired of Hellfires interrupting dinner and having Westerners occupying their country. If we can keep the pressure up on the AQ network, we will ultimately prevail.
 
J

JJ sloan

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Al Qaeda is a poison brand and their star is no longer on the rise. They received an unmitigated ass whipping in Afghanistan, and I think it's only a matter of time before the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan get tired of Hellfires interrupting dinner and having Westerners occupying their country. If we can keep the pressure up on the AQ network, we will ultimately prevail.

I wish I could agree with you. The Taliban is not going to give up, and with our president running around announcing that we are leaving there is no doubt that the population of Afghanistan will support our enemy. This is a simple counterinsurgency tactic. It is critical that the people have faith in the government in order to beat an insurgency. Announcing the withdrawal of troops before his surge has even taken shape is highly irresponsible. All the people here see is that America is leaving. You should see the fallout that I am seeing, of course it won't make the news.
 

Marauder06

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Ultimately, I do not believe that the Taliban have to cease fighting for us to accomplish our strategic objectives in Afghanistan. Our primary purpose in invading Afghanistan was, and remains, to get after Al Qaeda; if AQ was eliminated it's likely that there would be some arrangement that would result in "peace" (relative term) in Afghanistan. Remember that the Taliban held power for years without overt US military intervention; it wasn't until AQ got involved that we started bombing their country. I can't think of a single incident of the Taliban targeting US interests outside of Afghanistan or Pakistan; for now the Taliban is a localized threat; AQ is the international and existential threat to the US.

If the "Taliban" (all-inclusive term to include HQN, HIG, etc.) were to get rid of the foreign fighters/AQ, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan would look a lot more manageable.
 

pardus

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Agreed Mara, I think it is a big mistake to lump the Taliban and AQ into the same group.
We need to use a divide and conquer type mentality, make overtures to the Taliban.
Get it into their minds that we aren't here for them but are there for AQ.
Of course the US is going to have to honor that if the Taliban does indeed help and or shun AQ and sadly the US doesn't have a good reputation at keeping it's word in matters like these.

I for one would be very disappointed to see the Taliban back in control of A'stan, I think they are very deflatable and are a group that needs to be destroyed.
But hey WTF would I know, I'm an E2... :uhh:
 
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JJ sloan

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Ultimately, I do not believe that the Taliban have to cease fighting for us to accomplish our strategic objectives in Afghanistan. Our primary purpose in invading Afghanistan was, and remains, to get after Al Qaeda; if AQ was eliminated it's likely that there would be some arrangement that would result in "peace" (relative term) in Afghanistan. Remember that the Taliban held power for years without overt US military intervention; it wasn't until AQ got involved that we started bombing their country. I can't think of a single incident of the Taliban targeting US interests outside of Afghanistan or Pakistan; for now the Taliban is a localized threat; AQ is the international and existential threat to the US.

If the "Taliban" (all-inclusive term to include HQN, HIG, etc.) were to get rid of the foreign fighters/AQ, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan would look a lot more manageable.

Noted. You make some good points. Nevertheless, our intention in prosecuting the War on Terror was to destroy AQ's base and eliminate those who harbor or sponsor terror. This would most definately include the Taliban and their ideological views. We did not invade Afghanistan, we set out to destroy an insurgency that included the Taliban Regime as an enemy of the state. In fact, it is weak and immoral for our country to justify laying down to the Taliban after they shed American blood. AQ is simply an action arm to a much larger insurgency, which has the power to bring the American military to its knees. I can't think of a more overt targeting of U.S. interests than consorting with al Qaeda and providing the organization with a safe haven to grow and train for operations against the West. Besides, how do you tell the difference between AQ and Talib?

Pardus...
I would ask you the same question: How can you tell the difference between al Qaeda and Talib fighters? I do not understand how we should not lump together insurgent elements with the same ideological motivators. If you make overatures to the Taliban, who do you think you are making overatures to? They are the same! The Taliban wants to see the world ruled by a Caliph. I can't get down with that.
 

pardus

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Pardus...
I would ask you the same question: How can you tell the difference between al Qaeda and Talib fighters? I do not understand how we should not lump together insurgent elements with the same ideological motivators. If you make overatures to the Taliban, who do you think you are making overatures to? They are the same! The Taliban wants to see the world ruled by a Caliph. I can't get down with that.

AQ and the Talib are distinctly different groups, Could I tell them apart right now? Nope but I am ignorant to the details of that, any Afghan could tell you on sight, I would hope our people on the ground are as knowledgeable.
Ideally, yes we should defeat both and we could but lets be realistic the USA doesn't have the fortitude to do it.
GW Bush one of the staunchest Presidents we've had for sometime didn't have the balls to go in hardcore and get the job done, our current Pres would tremble at the thought.
Where does that leave us then?
Leaves us with being practical. AQ is never going to bend and they are as Mara said an international threat, so we need to exterminate them. The Taliban are interested (granted, at the moment) only in A'stan and Pakistan, they have not gone outside of that region nor displayed any intent to do so.

Obviously we cannot allow a group of assholes like the Taliban take over nuclear armed Pakistan, and that is a big problem that we need to face.

I'm being very pragmatic about this because I don't believe the American public or govt want us or will allow us to win this war.

I'm a cynical fuck I know.

In my personal opinion we should fight and defeat both of these groups and believe that we could do that without question.

We could do what I said we shouldn't in my other post, divide both groups, defeat AQ then turn and wipeout the Talib but then we've given more ammo to the Muslim world.


In Pardus fantasy world I think we should start a new international armed force, call them the Knights Templar and have them operate as they did back in the day, the Muslims were shit scared of them back then and would be again, we should exploit that fear and massacre our enemies, defeating them once and for all. :2c:
 
J

JJ sloan

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AQ and the Talib are distinctly different groups, Could I tell them apart right now? Nope but I am ignorant to the details of that, any Afghan could tell you on sight, I would hope our people on the ground are as knowledgeable.
Ideally, yes we should defeat both and we could but lets be realistic the USA doesn't have the fortitude to do it.
GW Bush one of the staunchest Presidents we've had for sometime didn't have the balls to go in hardcore and get the job done, our current Pres would tremble at the thought.
Where does that leave us then?
Leaves us with being practical. AQ is never going to bend and they are as Mara said an international threat, so we need to exterminate them. The Taliban are interested (granted, at the moment) only in A'stan and Pakistan, they have not gone outside of that region nor displayed any intent to do so.

Obviously we cannot allow a group of assholes like the Taliban take over nuclear armed Pakistan, and that is a big problem that we need to face.

I'm being very pragmatic about this because I don't believe the American public or govt want us or will allow us to win this war.

I'm a cynical fuck I know.

In my personal opinion we should fight and defeat both of these groups and believe that we could do that without question.

We could do what I said we shouldn't in my other post, divide both groups, defeat AQ then turn and wipeout the Talib but then we've given more ammo to the Muslim world.


In Pardus fantasy world I think we should start a new international armed force, call them the Knights Templar and have them operate as they did back in the day, the Muslims were shit scared of them back then and would be again, we should exploit that fear and massacre our enemies, defeating them once and for all. :2c:

Oh, don't get me wrong, I know our country is full of squat to pee, pie in the sky homos, and for that reason I know we will give up on fighting the Taliban. My contention is that it makes no sense, not whether we will do it or not, therefore, I can appreciate your pragmatic approach. Nevertheless, if you have ever chased Talibs or AQ around on a mountain, in my experience, it is quite difficult to tell who they are fighting for. I can also tell you most pro-American Afghan warriors don't give a shit about the difference in AQ or Talib. They don't see why we categorize them. They are all Jihadis and must die... or so they say. So yes, I understand your point and agree with you, it is inevitable that we will change focus, but that doesn't mean I will go quietly.

Hollis...
No offense bro, but if you are suggesting that I don't know my enemy you will require a much more in depth post than your last attempt, and much more information about me.
 

Marauder06

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Noted. You make some good points. Nevertheless, our intention in prosecuting the War on Terror was to destroy AQ's base and eliminate those who harbor or sponsor terror. This would most definately include the Taliban and their ideological views. We did not invade Afghanistan, we set out to destroy an insurgency that included the Taliban Regime as an enemy of the state. In fact, it is weak and immoral for our country to justify laying down to the Taliban after they shed American blood. AQ is simply an action arm to a much larger insurgency, which has the power to bring the American military to its knees. I can't think of a more overt targeting of U.S. interests than consorting with al Qaeda and providing the organization with a safe haven to grow and train for operations against the West. Besides, how do you tell the difference between AQ and Talib?

Pardus...
I would ask you the same question: How can you tell the difference between al Qaeda and Talib fighters? I do not understand how we should not lump together insurgent elements with the same ideological motivators. If you make overatures to the Taliban, who do you think you are making overatures to? They are the same! The Taliban wants to see the world ruled by a Caliph. I can't get down with that.

I think technically there wasn't an insurgency until we conquered the country, the Taliban was firmly in control of most of the country before then. We didn't go to war in AFG to end an insurgency.

As to the differences, the Taliban is a largely Pashtun organization whose ambitions are mostly localized within the Afghanistan/Pakistan area. AQ, in comparison, is comprised mostly of individuals foreign to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and their goal is the establishment of a worldwide Islamic caliphate. While it definitely contains AF and PAK nationals, AQ in the region is made up of foreigners- Uzbeks, Tajiks, Africans, Arabs, etc. It might be hard for us to tell them apart just by looking at them, but exploitatble differences remain. If it wasn't for AQ- which is an existential threat to both the US and PAK, it's likely those Predator strikes in PAK we keep reading about in the paper wouldn't be allowed to go on. Moreover, AQ tends to view Pashtuns as illiterate, simple, and backwards (which they are), and the TB tend to consider AQ members physically and mentally weak, undedicated, and dangerous to associate with (which they are). Also, AQ's view of Islam tends to be a bit more... puritanical than that of the TB. The rampant homosexuality in herent in AFG culture, if practiced in say Saudi Arabia, is likely to get one's head cut off.
 
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