Jim Dunnigan’s Strategy Page notes that Al Qaeda isn’t doing particularly well in Iraq, and is on the run in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, North Africa, Somalia, and Europe. Its only victories are to be found in media coverage.
Qaeda is having a bad year so far. While many media pundits like to paint the Islamic terrorists as on a winning streak, it doesn’t look that way from the other side. In Iraq, al Qaeda continues to bomb Shia “heretics” and Sunni “apostates”. Most of the victims are unarmed Moslem civilians, and this is regularly condemned throughout the Islamic world. Al Qaeda believes that all this carnage will somehow arouse the Sunni Arab world to make war on the Iraqi government, and get the Iraqi Sunni Arabs back in power. As absurd as that sounds, remember that al Qaedas ultimate goal is to establish a religious dictatorship in Iraq, and throughout the Islamic world. World conquest and all that.
The Al Qaeda leadership knows that they are dealing from a position of weakness. So the emphasis is on playing the media, and the impact the media has on the political and military situation. In that respect, al Qaeda takes heart from efforts in the American Congress to force U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. Again, we have a perception problem here. While al Qaeda would count that as a major victory, the outcome would be disastrous for them. Without U.S. troops to restrain them, Shia militias would be able to go after the remaining Sunni Arab community in Iraq and destroy it. …
Al Qaeda is still enormously popular among some segments of the Islamic population. Young, unemployed men remain eager al Qaeda supporters, as do educated men frustrated at the sorry state of their government and economy. Saudi Arabia turns out far more college grads with degrees in Islamic Studies, than in things like math, finance or engineering. There aren’t enough jobs for all those religion majors, and foreigners have to be imported to do the math, finance and engineering jobs. It’s a self inflicted wound that Saudi Arabia, and many other Moslem nations, are trying to address. It’s hard, though, as old habits are hard to change in a hurry.
So al Qaeda, lacking any concrete achievements, tries to at least gather more mentions in the media. Google is keeping score for the terrorists, and that may be good for the soul, but it won’t take you anywhere else.