(Peter Bergen is a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation).
I have, perhaps, an old-fashioned view of history and just as it is hard to explain why the French were in Moscow in 1812 without Napoleon, and the rise of the Nazi party is inextricably linked to the views and personality of Hitler, its just not possible to understand al Qaeda, what it is and what it has done, without understanding bin Laden. Without him al Qaeda simply would not exist (look at the minutes of the founding meetings of al Qaeda in 1988, for instance). Without him 9/11 would have been one of many harebrained schemes in the head of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM.) The Al Qaeda organization and bin Laden the man are largely co-terminus, after all it’s a rather small organization today and has always been so. The Al Qaeda movement is another matter, though that too takes its strategic cues from OBL.
— Peter Bergen
This week long terrorism salon will continue to be hosted by The Washington Note and UN Dispatch.