Al Qaeda Tries A Publicity Stunt

Does anyone remember the theory put out back in 2002 or thereabouts that Al Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center was an act of desperation that pointed to Islamicism’s failure as a world social movement? If anyone can remind me who came up with that idea I’d appreciate it as I’d be interested to read it myself.

The line of reasoning went something like this: Political Islamicism, by 2001, had had few successes if any. They had achieved state power in Algeria and in Afghanistan with the result being that both of those countries were being treated as pariahs by the rest of the world and were widely regarded as failed states collapsing in on themselves.

Thus in September 2001 Al Qaeda needs to pull off something big in order to jumpstart them into history again, and so they hit the Twin Towers.

And it worked….for the moment. They got attention, they got respect from the sorts of folks that respect such acts and they struck a serious blow to U.S. power. That they did it by destroying only a symbol, albeit an impressive one, of the West and not actually any part of the machinations of the Empire (as it would have been had Bin Laden sent men to blow up a giant internet hub or communications center) speaks to the tremendous power of images in modern society.

That was then and this is now. I’ve thought for some time that Bin Laden’s (probably Pakistan-based) Al Qaeda group have become smaller players than Al Qaeda In The Land Of Two Rivers, their Iraq-based counterparts who, the reports go, aren’t faring so well there either.

What reminded me of all this was an article today in the Washington Post about a recent online chat arranged by Al Qaeda wherein people could send messages to Ayman Al Zawahiri and he would personally respond.

One would think that a successful clandestine terrorist organization would not need to resort to such risky actions, as they well know that it has been directly after appearing in videos or interviews that leaders of these groups are often assassinated, as the Post article details.

So perhaps that early theory had some weight to it….maybe AQ is floundering, and this internet “meet Ayman” stunt is an attempt to stay in the limelight.

Or maybe they’re just patient.


One Response to Al Qaeda Tries A Publicity Stunt

  1. clark says:

    Some of what you are saying is reflected in Larry Wright’s recent NEW YORKER piece entitled “The Rebellion Within” -some of the top leaders of AQ are rejecting violence…. a fascinating development. (Maybe without the NeoCons to play with, the sandbox just isn’t any fun anymore?) read it here:

    BTW, I did get to say hello to Lawrence Wright recently at a local party. He sure is doing a great job, and I told him so.

    And yes, I made a joke out of the fact that both the AQ and the neocon mouth-guys ( hate to say thinkers, or leaders for they are neither) are running out of political capital these days but what scares me in reality it that there is no guarantee that the people who succeed them will be any better at keeping chaos and mayhem from erupting. In mexico post 1990s there are “the Juniors,” ie, the sons of the dinosaur oligarchs fattened by the kleptocracy of globalization, and these would be eurotrash are not content to snort coke and jet ski – they have taken to being recruited by the narcos into being hit men and ruthless assassins, since they have seen with their own eyes the “value of life” in a post modern mexico. Likewise the Zetas, paramilitary men who savaged the smuggler factions are giving way to the neuevo zeta, who have even LESS military discipline than your average, school of the americas trained special Ops whacko.

    A healthy amount of “back from iraq” veterans running for junior congressmen might sweep into office with the next election, and I tend to see that as a hopeful thing in general but who is to say one of them might not be the next Jesse Helms, obsessed with “preserving our empire” or some such tommy-rot? The amount of progressive thinking is always going to create a shadow area, room for backlash… or perhaps that is just my negativity talking.

    I just worry that if AQ fails, it will be like one bad idea that will get replaced with a worse one, like how 1980s shopping malls begat super malls and then mini-malls, or outlet malls or something. Every bit of the hopelessness and disillusionment the average person in the middle east felt before AQ is still there, only worse post the collapse of Iraq and the continued collapse of peace in Palestine, stagnation in Egypt, etc.

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