May 22 2008

al-Qaeda Losing Support On Muslim Street, Terrorist Attacks Down 40% Since 2001

Published by at 8:35 am under All General Discussions,Bin Laden/GWOT,Iraq

David Ignatius sat down with the folks at the National Counter Terrorism Center in Northern Virginia and learned something very interesting:

Though the intelligence analysts remain focused on the danger posed by al-Qaeda, they are also pondering what might happen if recent trends continued and that organization lost more support in the Muslim world. 

On the positive side, the NCTC analysts note that many Muslims around the world are turning away from al-Qaeda, in part because of their revulsion at its tactics and its gruesome record of killing Muslims. This rejection is evident even within the Salafist networks of very traditional Muslims, which provided Osama bin Laden’s early recruits. “The Salafist community has become very pragmatic,” explains one of the analysts, to the point that some sheiks have blessed cooperation with Western law enforcement against terrorist groups.

Hold the presses!  Does that mean we are winning the war on terror because the Muslim Street is turning on al-Qaeeda?  Didn’t this disgust with al-Qaeda’s bloody thirsty atrocities against fellow Muslims start in the Anbar Province of Iraq and goes by the name The Awakening?  Isn’t this the same repulsion of al-Qaeda that led to where we are today in Iraq – on the verge of defeating al-Qaeda and creating a peaceful democratic state in the heart of Mesopotamia?  

Would this repulsion of al-Qaeda happened if we did not take the war on terror right into the heart of the Salafist communities so they could experience al-Qaeda’s brutality up front and personal?  If we had sat back and let al-Qaeda take shots at America and the West on our turf, does anyone think this sea change in attitudes in the Muslim community would have happened?  As long as al-Qaeda was killing and maiming Americans and other infidels al-Qaeda was the future of Islam.  

But ever since it started killing and maiming Muslims it has become the enemy of Islam.  And that change of fortune was not going to happen without our actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the region. Along with the rejection of al-Qaeda has come a rejection of violence, and a  significant drop in terrorist attacks world wide.

A study released on Wednesday reports a decline in fatal attacks of terrorism worldwide and says U.S. think-tank data showing sharp increases were distorted due to the inclusion of killings in Iraq.

“Even if the Iraq ‘terrorism’ data are included, there has still been a substantial decline in the global terrorism toll,” said the 2007 Human Security Brief, an annual report funded by the governments of Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Britain.

For example, global terrorism fatalities declined by 40 percent between July and September 2007, driven by a 55 percent decline in the “terrorism” death toll in Iraq after the so-called surge of new U.S. troops and a cease-fire by the Shi’ite militant Mehdi Army, the brief said.

But even experts from MIPT and other institutes acknowledge that Iraq, where violence against civilians by militants is a daily occurrence five years after the invasion, is a special case not necessarily linked to any global trend.

“If you pulled (Iraq) out, terrorism was steady or maybe slightly lower,” James Ellis, research and program director at MIPT, told Reuters. “It has had a distortion effect.”

The Human Security Brief also points out an inconsistency in the calculation methods of the institutes. Although they include attacks on civilians in what it describes as Iraq’s civil war, they include few similar deaths from African wars.

Not sure if this is the same study or a different one, but this article notes a 40% decrease in terrorism since 2001 (H/T Reader Frogg):

The university’s Human Security Report Project says fatalities from terrorist attacks around the world have, in fact, decreased by 40 per cent since 2001.

Researcher Andrew Mack says previous data showing increases in terrorism have included civilian deaths in Iraq.

But he says such deaths in civil wars have traditionally been treated as war crimes, not terrorism, and it makes sense to remove them from the data entirely.

And the data will only be getting better as Iraqis stand up and take control of their security and destiny. All signs indicate al-Qaeda is running out of fighters, forced to enlist children to do their suicide bombing runs.  Clearly al-Qaeda is on the out in the Muslim Street.

This chain of events lead back to decisions in the White House after 9-11 to take this war to the terrorists and those who provided them sanctuary and support. This meant they would know what Jihad with America really meant.  It was not going to be videos and pictures Americans lying in pools of their own blood scattered around bomb sites in the West.  It was going to be Americans fighting Jihadis in the Middle East, where the Muslim Street could see the difference between the true American character (which was to avoid innocent casualties and protect people from harm) and the al-Qaeda Islamo Fascism (where Muslims were simply herd animals to be sacrificed en masse to gain headlines in the Western media).

The up close and unadulterated (or spun) look at both sides in this Jihad as, not surprisingly to many, led the Muslim Street to conclude al-Qaeda must be destroyed and purged from existence.  Why else would they take up arms and give intelligence to the West?  Why else would there be celebrations and relief when Islamo Fascists are run out of towns and villages?  

The first story covers some wild speculation that al-Qaeda’s demise will lead to more rampant and indiscriminate terrorism.  But the historical trend is pretty clear, violence up close is not as cool as it looks on TV.  The fact is there is a good chance the stinted Muslim Street of the Middle East could be infected by the modern and well adjusted Muslim Street in America?  We rightfully fear the opposite will continue to happen, the radicalized, rabid extremist cult will infect the world.  It is possible – but it is not a given and it can be avoided.  As the article notes we simply need to shed our fears and communicate more.  

If it can happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we have Muslim allies who have respect for us and we have respect for them, it can happen anywhere.  It is time this nation followed the lead of our military and learn from their experiences.  They broke al-Qaeda’s hold on the Muslim Street.  A street they now walk tall across.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “al-Qaeda Losing Support On Muslim Street, Terrorist Attacks Down 40% Since 2001”

  1. ivehadit says:

    Don’t tell soothie and norm….hehehe.

    But do send this to everyone you know because they won’t see it in the antique media!

  2. conman says:


    You are misintepreting the significance of these studies. The studies do not support the theory that the use of military force is the best or only way to win the war on terror. Here is what I believe is wrong with your theory.

    1. The studies conclude that the increase in terrorist activities since 2001 is largely due to the US war and occupation of Iraq. The studies conclude that a majority of the increase in terrorist activity has taken place in Iraq since our invasion – “The sharpest increase [in terrorist attacks] came after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.” How does that not prove that the Iraq war has led to an increase in terrorism? Our invasion and poor post-war planning led to instability in Iraq that Al Qaeda took advantage of.
    Although we appear to be kicking some major Al Qaeda butt in Iraq right now, that does not discount the fact that our decision to invade and poor post-war planning provided Al Qaeda the opportunity to create substantial death, destruction and instability for 4+ years.

    2. You overlook the reasons why the Surge has been largely successful to date. While the increase in troop numbers and our efforts to go after Al Qaeda militarily has certainly contributed, it was our truce with the Sunni Awakening Groups and Shite militias that has been the main reason for the reduction in violence and the ouster of Al Qaeda. Our willingness to negotiate with these groups, notwithstanding the fact that they were killing our troops and Iraqi civilians, is the primary reason for the Surges success. That is why I found Bush’s appeasement speech in Israel so ridiculous – our so-called appeasement of the Sunni insurgents and Shite miltias under Bush’s theory is the main reason the Surge has been effective to date. While slightly off topic, how embarrassing was it for Bush to find out that at the same time he gave is appeasement speech in front of the Israeli government the Isreali government was in negotiations with Syria?

    3. Even if you take Iraqi violence out of the equation, the study concludes that terrorism has been steady or slightly declined since 2001 – “If you pulled (Iraq) out, terrorism was steady or maybe slightly lower.” That is your measure of success – no improvement or slight improvements since 2001?

    4. The studies only measure terrorist attacks, which is only one metric. The real issue is whether or not terrorist groups and/or regimes that sponsor terrorist groups have increased their power and influence. While Al Qaeda’s power and influence has been diminished, other groups have increased. Iran’s power and influence in the region has been greatly enhanced in large part due to our decision to take out Iran’s most significant enemy and counter-balance – Saddam Hussein. Not only did we take out Iran’s #1 Sunni enemy, but we replaced it with a Shite leadership who previously lived in Iran and have close ties to the Iranian leaders. Hezzbolluh’s influence has greatly increased, as evidenced by the Lebonese government’s agreement this week to give them a veto right over government decisions. Hezzbolluh’s increase in power is largely attributed to Israel’s military action in Lebanon in 2006.

    5. While conditions in Iraq are dramatically improving, the same is not the case in Afghanistan. Terrorist attacks, instability and lack of government control continue to plague Afghanistan. This problem will only get worse now that the new Pakistani government appears ready to declare a truce with the Taliban, allowing them a new safe haven in Pakistan. This is directly attributable to our failure finished the job in Afghanistan and completely taken out the Al Qaeda leadership before starting the Iraq war. Unfortunately, it looks like Bush is about to repeat the mistake if he decides to attack Iran before we finsih the job in Iraq.

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