Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Al Qaeda's Continuing Influence

Peter Bergen reviews the record:

[W]hile they may no longer be ordering attacks over the phone, no one should doubt the continuing ability of bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri . . . to set al Qaeda's worldwide agenda. Since December 2001, their videos and audiotapes have reached hundreds of millions of people worldwide, many carrying specific instructions for militant cells. For instance, in September 2003, Zawahiri denounced Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for supporting the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda. Within three months, militants had launched two assassination attempts against Musharraf. In October 2003, bin Laden called for action against Spain because of its troop presence in Iraq. Five months later, terrorists killed 191 commuters in Madrid. In December 2004, bin Laden called for attacks against Saudi oil facilities. Fourteen months later, al Qaeda attacked a plant in Abqaiq, one of the most important oil production facilities in the world.