Terrorism: November 8, 2001


Where does al Qaeda (the bin Laden organization) go after bin Laden and his Afghan bases are destroyed? While the bin Laden terrorism training operation in Afghanistan was the largest in the world, there are others. Major terrorism training camps remain in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. Meanwhile, al Qaeda is not completely out of business. They have lost a lot (80-90%) of their training capacity. Movement to Iran and Pakistan is difficult, but not impossible (bribes will get you across the border most times.) Much of the al Qaeda operation is outside of Afghanistan. Lots (perhaps thousands) of operators in Western and (tolerant) Moslem nations continue to function. A lot of the most active of these have been picked up since mid-September. When the Afghan bases are completely gone, there may be attempts to set up new training camps elsewhere. This will be difficult, for Afghanistan was a very easy place for bin Laden to operate in. With the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan, Pakistan will not make it easy for followers in Pakistan. The Taliban are Pushtuns and the Pushtuns are a minority (ten percent) in Pakistan. Since the Taliban want to run their own government, Pakistan is unlikely to be tolerant of that. Pakistan will also discourage terrorist training in Pakistan, except for those camps that train zealots for operations in Kashmir. The terrorist camps in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon are all controlled by governments, and are not eager to allow an independent operation like al Qaeda to operate there. Other Moslim nations like Indonesia and the Philippines are also hostile to operations like al Qaeda. You need something like Afghanistan to provide an area you can operate openly in (covert operations are more time consuming.) Without the training bases, you cannot produce well prepared terrorists. Without the camps, you cannot screen and train new recruits in large numbers. While losing Afghanistan will not be the end of al Qaeda, it will severely limit its operations, effectiveness and growth potential.


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