The Threat of Al-Qaeda

  • 22 September 2010

There is no denying the tension caused by Al Qaeda in the Arab Maghreb following the incidents of kidnapping that have been reported in the recent past. This has threatened the security and stability of these countries and has raised concerns that the organization is still capable of spreading to different regions and changing its methods of operation simultaneously. More importantly, the ideology of violence it represents is still capable of penetrating various societies both in the East and the West. Just when little was being heard about the activities of the organization in the Arab Maghreb countries it has shown that it is capable of getting back into the headlines in quick time. This confirms the fact that Al Qaeda, despite the losses it has suffered, is still capable of laying siege and spreading its sleeper cells away from the parent organization.

Al Qaeda has become an “idea” which is capable of expanding and spreading instead of getting limited by an organizational structure that could be targeted and hit. That embodies the fundamental challenge for the international war on terrorism. Despite the ongoing ideological campaign against terrorism Al Qaeda has managed to spread its message and has changed tactics, locations, leadership and organizational structures every now and then. This indicates that the world is either still incapable of achieving victory over such an enemy or has not given it sufficient importance. Instead the focus has been on security challenges to terrorism which may have achieved tangible results but has still not managed to fragment the ideology of terrorism that Al Qaeda has been able to implant and promote into dozens of its sleeper and active cells around the world.

It is impossible to comprehensively eliminate terrorism unless a direct impact is made on the most important of its sources, the ideological source, which can be traced to Al Qaeda and its influential presence regardless of the war against it for many years. There is hence a pressing need for a thrust on the ideological war front. Just as the policy of drying up financial support to terrorism has worked, it is also necessary to dry up “the ideological upstream” as they are the most important, most dangerous and most influential. Terrorism is based on an “idea” and will go on as long as the idea is capable of mobilizing supporters and followers. The world will continue to suffer from the consequences of terrorism unless the security mechanism rises up to this challenge.