The Current State and Future of Al Qaeda United States President Barack Obama announced on May 1, 2011 that “Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the most devastating attack on American soil in modern times and the most hunted man in the world, was killed in a firefight with the United States forces in Pakistan. ” The death of Osama bin Laden is certainly a major blow to the Al Qaeda terrorist network causing many of its leaders to go underground.Yet, the threat of Al Qaeda still exists and many intelligence officials believe it has only grown. Since September 11, 2001 the terrorist network expanded into a global terrorist organization with thousands of followers. And when examined critically, the death of Osama bin Laden disrupted the Al Qaeda terrorist network yet, Al Qaeda still poses a significant threat to Western nations in the future.
First, since September 11, 2001 bin Laden had been in hiding and played more of an idol for Al Qaeda than he did an operational leader (site).For ten years it was nearly impossible for bin Laden to actively communicate within the organization since he was afraid it would lead to his capture and the demise of current Al Qaeda operations. (site) Al Qaeda leaders are in hiding after the death of Osama bin Laden, especially since United States Navy Seals uncovered multiple items of critical intelligence during the raid on bin Laden’s stronghold.
(site) The death of Osama bin Laden is a temporary setback for Al Qaeda, which forces the terrorist network to go underground, regroup and plan their next attack.Ultimately, Osama bin Laden demonstrated to the world how a small terrorist organization could create massive destruction to a major Western power. Secondly, Al Qaeda cannot be destroyed in one day or by killing one person because it is a system of beliefs. The principal goal of al-Qaeda is to expunge Western and Western influence out of all Muslim nations. This is a broad ideology that many muslims in Arab nations believe and support.
This is nothing new, in fact this struggle of Arab nations disapproving of Western ideology has existed for centuries.Hence, why Osama bin Laden’s death does not lead to the end of Al Qaeda. This is a widely accepted concept believed by many Americans.
Osama bin Laden was the leader of Al Qaeda and responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, but that is all. Al Qaeda itself and its beliefs live on and continue to grow throughout Arab nations and the world. EXPAND! Additionally, Al Qaeda has grown in the last ten years and currently runs global operations in: Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria, Libya, Indonesia and the Philippines. site) Before September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda was a several hundred member organization in Sudan and the caves of Afghanistan. They have since grown to a global terrorist network that is on the rise.
This displays the global expansion of Al Qaeda and how it has continued to grow despite United States and international efforts to eliminate the terrorist organization. Also, there are hundreds of Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist cells in nearly one hundred countries including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Site)This poses a significant threat to the security of Western nations as these cells could be activated at any moment to create havoc in a targeted country. Equally important, Al Qaeda works in congruence with many other terrorist organizations such as the: Armed Islamic Group, Hezbollah, Salafist Group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Islamic Army of Aden. (site) This demonstrates the ability of Al Qaeda to cooperate with other terrorist organizations who have similar goals and beliefs.Therefore, Al Qaeda has continued to grow and expand across the world in spite of the United States attempt to destroy the organization in the last ten years.
The Al Qaeda terrorist organization will replace Osama bin Laden and move on. According to CNN terrorist analyst, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two Al Qaeda leader is now the new leader of Al Qaeda following bin Laden’s death. A new Al Qaeda will emerge under Al-Zawahiri which opens a new chapter for the terrorist organization and new dangers to Western security.This new leader holds a deep hatred for the United States because his wife and two children were killed by a United States airstrike following the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Ayman Zawahiri explicitly stated he vows for revenge of bin Laden’s death and urges followers to target the United States. CBS security analyst Juan Zarate says he is likely to launch new attacks against the the United States “to prove his leadership and to demonstrate a reprisal for the death of his boss. With this in mind, Al Qaeda does not need another massive attack on United States soil to make its point. Simply, it could place a suicide bomber in a busy subway or in Times Square to demonstrate Al Qaeda’s is still a major threat.
Both of these examples were attempted in the past two years. (site)This puts the United States and its allies in great danger in the near future. In summary, the Al Qaeda terrorist network still exists after the death of Osama bin Laden under the leadership of Ayman al-Zawahiri who holds a deep personal grudge against the United States.
Although Al Qaeda replaced its leader and continues to expand there are numerous challenges for the Al Qaeda organization. Namely, the Arab Spring which poses a great danger to Al Qaeda’s growth and stability. The Arab Spring is a revolutionary wave of democratic uprisings occurring in the Arab world which began at the end of 2010. Primarily, the movement is led by the youth who demand for an end of their repressive, regimes, dictatorships, authoritarian, unjust governments. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda does agree in a regime change but only one which supports strict Islamic Sharia laws.However, the youth of Arab nations are demanding for a more democratic system of government.
This shows the youth of Arab nations is adopting Western ideologies and would be unwilling to accept the ideologies of Al Qaeda. Also, it shows a shift in what the youth believe to be a better government for the people. And this demonstrates their willingness to form protests which is a significant step forward in that region .
So far al Qaeda’s response to the issue was to attack Christians and other minorities in the Arab region in an attempt to foster some type of religious war.Thus, giving Al Qaeda the high ground amongst Sunny Muslims, but clearly this has not been as effective in the new Arab world emerging. Following this Arab Spring is the construction of a new government in Egypt after Mubarak’s regime fell. Currently, the situation in Egypt has brought about the establishment of new political parties some of which are Ayman al-Zawahiri’s jihadist “brothers” that are now participating in free elections. (site) Certainly, these free elections do not satisfy Ayman al-Zawahiri especially since they are supported by Western nations.Al Qaeda biggest challenge does not lie in Egypt but in the future of the Arab nations involved in the Arab Spring. Egypt sets an example for other Arab nations to follow which is to practice free elections, political pluralism, coexistence between secular and national parties, and the peaceful transfer of power are all concepts that are not in congruence with Al Qaeda beliefs. Furthermore, if more Arab nations adopt these practices it would pose a significant threat to Al Qaeda’s future growth and stability in the Arab region.
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