Wither al-Qaida?

By all accounts al-Qaida has taken a pretty serious beating over the past couple of years.  Now, the Guardian is quoting ‘senior British officials’ in saying:

…”only a handful of the key players” remain alive, one official said.

However, well-informed sources outside government and close to Islamist groups in north Africa said at least two relatively senior al-Qaida figures have already made their way to Libya, with others intercepted en route, raising fears that north Africa could become a new “theatre of jihad” in coming months or years.

So, let’s say al-Qaida (and perhaps even the wider ‘jihadist’ movement generally) decides that they should either regroup or focus back to the ‘near enemy’, take advantage of the fluid post Arab-spring Middle East.  What would that mean for our homeland security industry?

Now imagine, al-Qaida decides to take advantage of that generational time horizon they’re often attributed with having.  Is it possible that we could keep the homeland security wheels turning for five years?  Ten?  Twenty?

And how should we evaluate the threat?  My concern is that all the vested interest behind the airport scanners, the 72 (and counting) fusion centers, the various contractors and pet congressional projects will work to create a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ scenario.

Picking up ‘chatter’ from the bad guys?  Uh oh.  Red alert!  We can’t cut back now.

No chatter from the bad guys? Uh oh.  Red alert!  We can’t cut back now.

Coincidentally, Newsweek has an article along the same vein up.

“The drone attacks may have ended, but only after the near ending of al Qaeda in the tribal areas,” says a senior Taliban intelligence officer who has been in contact with surviving members of the group. “As far as I can tell, the operational command of al Qaeda has almost been eliminated.” Hanif’s uncle, a Taliban operative, tells Newsweek he’s been in contact with a few al Qaeda members who have taken refuge outside the tribal areas. “All of al Qaeda’s assets who had a strategic vision have been eliminated,” they’ve told him.

Yet, clearly the al-Qaeda brand still has some utility as a bogey man for vested interests all over the world so it might not matter if they get blasted out of the global airlock…we just might be stuck with them.

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