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."


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.

  • Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused
    Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused

    The Sandiganbayan has allowed a government official, accused with plunder along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to undergo a medical procedure at a hospital tomorrow. The anti-graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. …

  • Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy
    Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy

    The Sandiganbayan has recommended executive clemency for a former Philippine ambassador to Nigeria who was sentenced to 52 years for malversation of public funds. The Sandiganbayan First Division found Masaranga Umpa guilty of misusing the Assistance-To-Nationals Stand-by Funds totaling $80,478.80 in 2007, but the anti-graft court said the former assemblyman from Lanao del Norte should be pardoned. …

  • Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour
    Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour

    It was a night of stargazing in 58 SM Supermalls all over the country last night as these establishments participated in Earth Hour, an annual worldwide movement encouraging communities and establishments to switch off lights for one hour to raise global awareness of overuse of non-renewable resources. The Philippines has been an active participant of Earth Hour since 2008. Last night, in the province of Bulacan, for instance, all parishes, diocesan institutions, schools and household …

  • Payanig privatization hit
    Payanig privatization hit

    BLEMP Commercial of the Philippines, Inc. (BLEMP) denounced the recent announcement of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to privatize the 18.4-hectare “Payanig sa Pasig” property. In a statement sent to The STAR, BLEMP lawyer Dennis Manalo said the PCGG has no right to auction the property because it has no valid title and is not in possession. The PCGG has not paid a single centavo in real property taxes for the property, he said. He narrated that it was in the early 70s …

  • New species of tarantula found
    New species of tarantula found

    Scientists from the Museum of Natural History (MNH) of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños have discovered a new species of cave-dwelling tarantula on an island off the coast of Quezon. The new species of the spider, Phlogiellus kwebaburdeos, was described in the recent issue of the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology by MNH curators for spiders Aimee Lynn Dupo and Alberto Barrion along with their former student Joseph Rasalan. The tarantula was discovered by Rasalan during one …

  • Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others
    Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others

    As Christendom enters Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday called on the faithful not to add to the sufferings of their fellowmen. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), said that while Palm Sunday is oftentimes remembered as the glorious arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, it also signals the start of the Holy Week that tells of His suffering, death and …

  • Miriam pushes tougher graft law
    Miriam pushes tougher graft law

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a bill that would make public officials liable for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act even if they are elected to a fresh term or a new position. In filing Senate Bill 2716, Santiago sought to address what she said was the doctrine of condonation in Philippine jurisprudence brought about by the 2010 case of Salumbides vs. Ombudsman. “By merely asserting the doctrine of condonation, erring elective officials are automatically given a …

  • Phl hits back at China over sea infra work
    Phl hits back at China over sea infra work

    The Philippines assailed China yesterday for contesting Manila’s planned repair and maintenance works on some islands in the West Philippine Sea, saying they are “in no way comparable” to the Asian power’s massive reclamation activities which are in violation of international laws. “The Philippines’ possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea, over which the Philippines rightfully exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options