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.