A year after bin Laden slain, Al-Qaeda 'in ruins'

One year after the death of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, his network lies in ruins even if some supporters, whether lone wolf extremists or Al-Qaeda members, still brandish the jihadi banner.

The death of their figurehead and US drone attacks in the Pakistani highlands have disrupted Al-Qaeda's core guerrilla organisation, now reduced to a few dozen militants battling for their own survival, experts say.

With the group's Saudi kingpin slain in a US commando raid, his chosen successor as Al-Qaeda's emir, Egyptian doctor Ayman Al Zawahiri, has not been able to unite the same loose global movement under his command.

"What gave substance to Al-Qaeda's global ambition was the person of bin Laden. He was a unique figure whom Zawahiri is incapable of replacing," said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a French academic and author of a book on Al-Qaeda.

"This son of a good family, who could have lived the most comfortable of lives but chose the asceticism and privation of the terrorist struggle, had a kind of romantic aura about him that was a very powerful draw," said Filiu.

"At no time in the past year has his successor marked public opinion by any act, pronouncement, initiative nor gesture."

Now lacking the means to carry out itself attacks with geopolitical clout like those of September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda has focused on trying to inspire allied local groups and to claim credit for their victories.

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia's chaotic and poor southern neighbour, fighters from local franchise Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) carry out incessant attacks on government forces and have captured several towns.

In Somalia, the Shebab Islamist group has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda's global jihad, and continues to resist pressure from a weak interim regime supported by African Union forces and periodic US strikes.

And in the countries of the Sahel desert, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has allied itself with Tuareg rebels who -- reinforced by mercenaries fleeing the fall of Moamer Khadafi's Libyan regime -- have split Mali in half.

Meanwhile, many of the bomb attacks that still rock Iraq from week to week are blamed on surviving members of the once powerful Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers that sprung up in the wake of the 2003 US invasion.

So, on a map of trouble spots in the Islamic world, Al-Qaeda's black banner is still very much in evidence -- but experts caution that the various factions do not really amount to much more than the sum of their parts.

Only Yemen-based AQAP has attempted, with remarkably little success, to take the struggle beyond its local conflict and inflict more damage on the "greater enemy" -- the United States -- in the form of failed aeroplane bombings.

Beyond that, the global jihad has become a virtual movement in cyberspace, seeking to indoctrinate troubled Muslim loners or small self-radicalised cells in Western countries into carrying out unpredictable small-scale attacks.

But in a report published Wednesday, the European Union's police coordination agency Europol warned that such self-starters could become the new face of the threat.

"The more Al-Qaeda's core is under pressure, and the more difficult it becomes to prepare large scale attacks, the more Al-Qaeda will try to recruit individual supporters in the West to plan and execute attacks," it warned.

In March, a young Frenchman, 24-year-old Mohammed Merah, carried out three shooting attacks in and around the southern city of Toulouse, killing three off-duty soldiers, a trainee rabbi and three Jewish children.

Shortly before he was killed in an exchange of fire with the police, he claimed to negotiators to have been an Al-Qaeda member, but intelligence agencies have since found nothing to link him directly to the network.

He did make a personal trip to the Taliban's heartland around the Afghan city of Kandahar, but he seems to have taught himself his extremist ideology from Islamist texts he read in prison and on the Internet.

"It's not easy, because these individuals seem to be a mix of terrorists and people who have very big personal problems," the head of Canada's SCRS domestic security agency Richard Fadden told his country's Senate recently.

"My colleagues in Britain, in Australia and the United States think the same thing --- we are already seeing an increase in the number of people who are acting as individuals, and that really makes our lives complicated."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media
    Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media

    The Philippines is nothing more than the "cute little submissive" of the United States, a Chinese tabloid with close ties to the ruling Communist Party said on Tuesday, criticising Manila for military exercises with Washington. The English-language editorial came a day after the Philippines launched giant 10-day war games with the US and Australia, partly aimed as a warning shot to Beijing amid competing claims in the South China Sea, home to vital shipping routes. "Of all the countries …

  • Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China
    Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China

    The Philippines said Tuesday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defences, as it faces Chinese "aggressiveness" in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, military chief General Gregorio Catapang told AFP he was drafting a "wish list" for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for "equipment and training", when Foreign …

  • Philippines accuses China of turning water cannon on its fishing boats

    Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino and American Marines landed on a beach in a mock assault.     The presidential palace in Manila said China's coast guard used water cannon on Monday to drive away a group of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, damaging some of their wooden boats. Chinese ships rammed a fishing boat in the area a few months back. China in …

  • Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post
    Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post

    After nearly a year, President Aquino finally made good his promise to a long-time ally – former Cavite governor and congressman Erineo Maliksi – to head the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), replacing Margarita Juico who resigned in May 2014. Maliksi must be officially elected by the PCSO board members as their chairman. Prior to his appointment to the PCSO, Maliksi faced graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged illegal purchase of P2.5 million worth …

  • US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense
    US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense

    A massive deployment of aircraft, personnel and warships characterizes this year’s Balikatan between the two allies, which war games were launched 30 years ago. Commander Lued Lincuna, Philippine Navy public affairs chief, said the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) will link  up with the US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. …

  • P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China
    P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China

    With China’s actions threatening to “considerably alter the way of doing business globally,” President Aquino will ask the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take a united stand against Beijing’s massive reclamation activities and other provocative acts in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Aquino will raise the appeal to his ASEAN counterparts when they meet on April 27-28 in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia. Beijing reacted immediately to the plan, saying the …

  • OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism
    OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday backed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), warning that failure to see the peace process through with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could open the door to extremism. OIC secretary-general Iyad Bin Amin Madani, who is in the country to rally support for the peace process and the BBL, told reporters at the Senate yesterday that the Philippines should not waste the opportunity to attain lasting peace in Mindanao, especially …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options