Al Qaeda: Not Out, But Down

Strategy Page has some hopeful observations on the state of al Qaeda today:

Al Qaeda continues to take a beating, but you can ignite a media firestorm just saying that. ***
Al Qaeda operations continue to decline, as the number of al Qaeda members, and leaders killed or captured, goes up. *** American and Pakistani attacks (usually with missiles or smart bombs) along the Afghan border in the last two years have killed an increasing number of foreign fighters.
But that’s not what worries al Qaeda, it’s the increasing amount of accurate information the counter-terror forces are getting. No one is talking, but al Qaeda chatter claims that either the Americans have some wondrous new bit of technology, or Yankee money has corrupted more al Qaeda members to give up information. The Taliban is suffering the same kind of casualties, and coming up with the same paranoid theories. ***
Al Qaeda is eagerly recruiting other Islamic terrorist organizations, usually ones that have recently taken a big beating in their home country, to become part of al Qaeda. That’s about the only growth al Qaeda is experiencing. ***
Al Qaeda is having some success in the Western media, and among Moslems living in Europe. But those expatriate Moslems are handicapped by many of their brethren who are not enthusiastic about Islamic terrorism. The police get tips, make arrests, and al Qaeda losses a few more true believers. Al Qaeda is desperate for another highly visible attack in the West. Many such operations are apparently being planned, but by amateurs who can get no help from al Qaeda experts. Most of al Qaedas traveling experts are dead or in prison. Inspiring amateurs to attempt poorly planned attacks, like the recent ones in Britain, only discourage recruits. ***

That sounds right to me. The whole picture will likely change, however, if al Qaeda succeeds in driving the U.S. out of Iraq.
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