Exaggerating the Terrorist Threat


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My colleague, friend and sometime Washington Note poster Andrew Lebovich has a really excellent piece up at Foreign Policy analyzing Osama bin Laden’s new tape threatening France. Here’s the kicker, from his section on bin Laden’s attempt to “claim” the kidnapping of French nuclear workers in Niger last month:

Another possible explanation for bin Laden’s “claiming” of the Niger kidnapping operation is more of an internal issue. Al Qaeda Central may be attempting to take some rhetorical control over its fairly weak, nebulous North African affiliate, AQIM. Despite some claims from experts, there is little to no evidence of coordination or even communication between al Qaeda Central and AQIM, an organization that attacks Algerian and Sahelian security forces while runing smuggling, drug protection, and kidnapping-for-ransom operations. By placing his stamp of approval on a kidnapping almost certainly motivated more by monetary than religious or defensive concerns, bin Laden is trying to show (and exaggerate) al Qaeda’s reach, indicating an omnipresence that is illusory at best.
But ultimately, this tape is about al Qaeda’s raison d’


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