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Zawahiri offers window on al-Qaeda's worldview

Al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, weighed in this week with his annual anniversary address marking the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing the past nine years as a "blessed harvest" even while lashing out anew at Islamic governments that are hostile to the terrorist network's cause.

Zawahiri treats a Taliban victory in Afghanistan as a given. "No one doubts it will happen, not even the American-led crusader coalition itself," he says. "Rather, the argument is about 'when' and 'how.' "

He taunts a number of targets in the 44-minute recording, according to the SITE intelligence group. He describes Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari as "Mr. 10%," a reference to past allegations of graft, and praises the Jordanian suicide bomber who struck a CIA compound in Afghanistan as a martyr who "taught the treasonous Jordanian government a lesson it will never forget."

But Zawahiri also mentions many apparent sources of frustration, complaining that Pakistan is sinking into "all types of major sins," that American political allies are outmaneuvering Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt, and that Palestinians are being drawn into peace talks that amount to prostrations "at the feet of the West."

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and adviser to President Obama, said the recording is only the fourth from Zawahiri this year, "a striking contrast to previous years when the doctor put out new messages every other week."

In an e-mail to counter-terrorism experts, Riedel speculated that Zawahiri's "operational tempo has been very clearly disrupted by the CIA drone offensive."

That echoed an observation that Obama had made himself days earlier in a news conference, when he said that top leaders of al-Qaeda "have been holed up in ways that have made it harder for them to operate. . . . Even Zawahiri, who is more often out there, has been much more cautious."

By Greg Miller  | September 17, 2010; 5:23 PM ET
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It is possible to dismiss Zawahiri’s latest fulminations as the pique and peevishness of someone who has lost the contest already. It does seem indeed, as Mr Bruce Riedel aptly reminds us, that the Al Qaeda operatives have been much weakened by recent US drone attacks. It seems unlikely that Al Qaeda shall be able to launch anything even remotely resembling 9/11.
But that does not mean that this is the beginning of the end. Perhaps we are not destined to see the end in our time – I am past 70. It promises to be a long drawn out affair which shall not be concluded without a lot more suffering for ordinary people everywhere. It seems Islamist fundamentalists, on whose behalf Zawahiri waxes eloquent, are not alone in their crusade, if we forget the other connotations of that word. There are numerous other extremist phalanxes operating in numerous and far-flung lands across continents, reminding the so-called free world that the contest is not over – yet.
Decision makers and analysts and observers around the world, especially in the West, will have to sit up and consider long-term measures that need to be taken to meet the threat and the challenge that the US – in the main – has been facing almost all by itself since 9/11. There is no doubt that Islamist fundamentalists are not about to give up, in spite of all the ‘development’ efforts being launched in numerous countries around the world. It will be a long time before these efforts come to fruition. In the meantime, ordinary people everywhere shall continue to suffer from the attention – to put it in no stronger words – of the terrorists of several hues.
In this contest between the so-called free world and the proponents of fundamentalist terror, it is important that those who are organizing and leading what used to be called the global war against terror should recognize unsentimentally who are with them and who are not with them. This is the elementary consideration that governs all warfare at any level. The present contest is not one which can allow anyone the luxury of permitting Trojan horses inside the councils of the coalition of the willing. If this is not taken care of, it is possible that the coalition shall begin to fritter away with the erosion of hope and faith in the efforts and efficiency of those leading the effort. There is no room for those who like to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds.
V. C. Bhutani,, Delhi, India, Sep 18 2010, 0610 IST

Posted by: vineycb1 | September 17, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

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