Many Arabs now consider al Qaeda
as the gang that can't kill straight. Consider some current events in Yemen.
Thirty months ago, 23 Islamic terrorists broke out of a jail there. Since then,
fifteen of those escapees have been recaptured, and five were killed. The three
still at large appear to be in hiding (either in Yemen or another country). The
most recent escapee to be caught, Hamza al Quayti, was killed, along with four
of his followers, on August 12th. Two policemen were also killed in that
action, and documents, weapons and bomb making materials were captured. It
appears that al Quayti's group, formed after he escaped, has been responsible
three or four attacks, only one of them successful. This accounted for most of
the terrorist activity in Yemen over the past two years, Although there are a
lot of Islamic conservatives, and al Qaeda fans, in Yemen, the majority of the
population wants nothing to do with Islamic terrorism, especially if it's
taking place nearby and endangers them, their family or livelihood. Thus the
one successful al Quayti attack, a suicide bombing that killed eight foreign
tourists and two Yemeni guides, was very unpopular. Many Yemenis depend on the
tourists for their livelihood, and culturally, it's considered bad manners to
kill foreign guests. Another failed attack, against an oil installation, also
threatened many Yemenis economically.
All this has
made it difficult for Yemeni Islamic terrorists to carry out operations in
their own country. Throughout the Arab
world, al Qaeda's reputation has suffered greatly in the last five years. The
U.S. invasion of Iraq was a major insult to al Qaeda, an organization dedicated
to keeping infidels (especially heavily armed ones) out of the Middle East.
While al Qaeda hated Saddam Hussein, and his Baath Party (an openly
non-religious, "socialist" organization), Saddam was a Moslem and an
Arab, and he had been willing to make deals with al Qaeda (like offering
sanctuary for al Qaeda operatives). The al Qaeda response was very violent, and
it revealed two terrible truths about the organization. First, al Qaeda was not
very good at killing armed infidels. This was suspected, as most of the Islamic
radicals who flocked to Iraq after 2003, could have earlier gone after Israel.
But that was generally recognized as suicidal and pointless.
Qaeda was very good at killing Moslem civilians. These two items ruined al
Qaeda's reputation in the Islamic world, and destroyed the popularity they had
built up over a decade of attacks on infidels in the West and India. The
September 11, 2001 attacks were very popular throughout the Islamic world, but
it was downhill after that. Al Qaeda has not come up with a way to fight the
infidels inside Islamic nations, without killing lots of Moslems. Most Moslems
understand why this is. Al Qaeda simply lacks the skills and resources to take
on Western troops, or even the police in Western nations.
Moslems, al Qaeda is down, but not out. But for most Moslems, al Qaeda is
finished, and openly despised. In most areas where al Qaeda still has some
fighters in action, the terrorists are feared and hated. As a result of that,
and the recent spread of cell phone service throughout the Islamic world, al
Qaeda is fighting hard to survive in any form at all.