TERRORISM SALON: Fourth (and Final) Prompt — OBL and Al Qaeda


Is Osama bin Laden still relevant? Or rather, is the threat more from a reconstituted, centralized Al Qaeda, or from more local groups radicalized by preachers or outside forces? (See the recent arguments between Marc Sageman and Bruce Hoffman). Also interesting to consider is how centralized Al Qaeda was before September 11, looking at the scope of its attacks both prior to and after September 11.
Which is more dangerous, a decentralized Al Qaeda operating as a symbol, or a centralized Al Qaeda still ordering attacks from a mountain redoubt?
— Steve Clemons
This week long terrorism salon will continue to be hosted by The Washington Note and UN Dispatch.


2 comments on “TERRORISM SALON: Fourth (and Final) Prompt — OBL and Al Qaeda

  1. Paul Norheim says:

    Henry Kissinger once said: “There is no politics quite as vicious
    as academic politics . . . because in academia there is so little at
    This is certainly not the case here. We should not underestimate
    the (geo)political implications of the disagreement between
    Hoffmann and Sageman; it touches the core of Obamas foreign
    policy strategy in the so called “war on terror”.
    Hoffmann, who sees the threat more from a regrouped,
    centralized al Qaeda, says in the end of his “Foreign Affairs”
    review of Sagemans new book that “the United States and its
    allies must refocus their attention on Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
    This is completely in line with Obamas strategy, and his
    suggestions to remove troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.
    Sageman`s “bunches of guys” theory requires a different
    strategy that is not represented by any of the candidates. For
    McCain, this is probably nothing more than a typical academic
    issue with little at stake, since he seems obsessed with winning
    the Vietnam war in Iraq, or even in Iran.
    It seems like it`s easier to get political support for fighting a
    tangible enemy with clear contours; ideally an evil, cartoon-like
    individual – Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, “Hitler”… – than
    a more abstract network or a multitude of groups with complex
    or loose connections and differences.
    Thus it`s no surprise that the New York Times article linked to
    in Steve`s post also focused on the individual fight between to
    academic figures, and not on the obvious implications for the
    policy strategies in the current fight among the presidential


  2. Mr.Murder says:

    The answer lies within the after action reviews of the WTC bombing, and the 9-11 commissions recommendations not being fully obligated.
    Contrast those two items with the Aug.6th PDB.
    Now let’s consider Bushco.’s use of INTEL for political expediency at election times, letting people know we have sources within certain cells or wings of the terror infrstructure, for the purpose of making hollow victories in shaping perception at home.
    If we wanted Bin laden he would be ours right now.See also Noriega.


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