Al-Qaeda's resurgence

The June edition of the Atlantic dropped through my letterbox today, as usual there are a huge amount of articles worth reading. But the World in Numbers section this month stands out.

It is a graphical representation of Al-Qaeda attacks since 1996 – when Osama declared a Jihad against US troops in Saudi Arabia. Fascinating stuff. It confirms my long held suspicion and even belief, that the war on terror, far from being won, is in fact having little effect.

In a graph titled “An escalating tempo of attacks” a timeline of 1996 – 2004 is shown, with magnitudes of attacks and ratio of fatalities per attack to operative combatants.

Since the USS Cole attack, the tempo has increasing dramatically – with 18 attacks since then.

It all makes for ominous reading, even the byline – “The ever resilient terrorist group continues to adapt – and is rapidly breeding a fully fledged movement”

4 thoughts on “Al-Qaeda's resurgence”

  1. Hmm. Why pick the attack on the USS Cole as a starting point? The War on Terror only really began after the Sep 11 attacks. And, I doubt there have been more fatalities since Sep 11 in all al Qaeda attacks combined than there were that day.

    Also, are we only talking about attacks on the west or all attacks? This is important, because I believe that the recent spate of attacks in Saudi Arabia represent an acknowledgement by al Qaeda that they are losing. They reek of desperation.

  2. It was only after 11th September that the crusade was given the (frankly ridiculous) title, “War on Terror”, but it’s a bit daft to think that al-Qaeda hadn’t been a huge priority since the early nineties.

    What’s certainly worth flagging-up is the lack of interest in the Binladdin family IMMEDIATELY after the Twin Towers attacks, and the reticence of the Clinton administration to investiagte the flow of money from the Saudi Royal family to various terrorist organisations… But, then again, US Presidents seem to be able to operate without adequate investigations of their dodgier exploits; at least where they don’t involve interns and cuban cigars, that is.

    Exactly to what extent the inaction of US intelligence is responsible for this escalation in terrorist activity is a matter of contentious debate, not least in the Congressional committee.

  3. I take your point John, I was just picking the one that stood out to me – not necessarily indicative.

    We are talking about all attacks – and to be honest if present trends continue I think we will see alot more Madrid style attacks in the future.

    I dont see how a spate of attacks in Saudi indicate desperate measures – Madrid was far from a desperate measure. As terrorism goes, it was well planned, and well executed, with devastating consequences for innocent Europeans – indications are that more will follow. Europe could well see more attacks this year.

    And if that happens will it mean that Al Qaeda are in retreat?

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