Optimism Expressed on al Qaeda

The Washington Post reports that American spy agencies are increasingly optimistic that “19 months of worldwide counterterrorism operations and arrests have nearly crippled [al Qaeda].”
This is based in part on the organization’s failure to mount attacks during the Iraq war, notwithstanding urging by Osama bin Laden. One counterterrorism official says: “This was the big game for them–you put up or shut up, and they have failed.”
It appears that nearly everyone–except maybe Mark Steyn–now accepts that bin Laden is still alive. Which may be just as well, in that his demise, coupled with the lack of successful attacks over a considerable length of time, will likely lead to pressure to declare victory in the war on terror and slacken our efforts. Which would be a serious mistake, as “al Qaeda” is just one of many Islamofascist groups, among which there are no clear lines of authority or organization, but which share a common ideology and common goals. Individual terrorists move quite freely from group to group. So the demise of al Qaeda, when it comes, will not mean the end of the war against the Islamofascists, which can ultimately succeed only after the Arab world is remade and Islamofascism recedes as an ideology.

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