In the aftermath of the Iraq war, Al Queda and its supporters are “fragmenting, mutating and spreading again” in the Islamic world, reports the Toronto Star (June 22).
Although the U.S. has made significant progress in stemming the operation of Al Queda since 9/11, the network has used the U.S. and British led war to help it become “an even stronger magnet for disaffected Muslims who feel the “only way of stopping Washington’s mammoth military machine is through terrorist action.” One Saudi analyst adds that before September 11, bin Laden and the other “jihadi” terrorist groups were separate. But those groups have now integrated themselves into the Al Queda strategy. The recent attacks in Morocco and Saudi Arabia and the suicide bombing in May by two young Britons of Asian origin suggests that extremist Muslim groups in these countries are following this new global strategy.
The article adds that Al Queda now consists of three levels: fighters personally loyal to bin Laden, numbering up to 600; a worldwide support network of thousands who offer money and other logistical help; and a “new group of Islamic scholars devoted to jihad, or holy war, whose ideology attracts and inflames supporters.”
The war in Afghanistan eliminated a physical base for Al Queda but it also forced an “already decentralized organization to become even more decentralized. It’s members have dispersed and integrated into other societies,” says Jonathan Stevenson of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. The Internet is serving both as a gateway to membership in militant groups and also as an aid to those who have already taken up studies with local Muslim extremists.