The campaign to eliminate al Qaeda certainly appears to be building up to some kind of “mission accomplished” moment.
Will that come when Ayman al-Zawahiri is assassinated? And will it come just as the November U.S. presidential election approaches?
It’s hard not to get the distinct impression that President Obama is itching to claim the political reward of being able to declare that al Qaeda has been defeated.
Obama’s latest trophy is the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi who CNN’s Paul Cruickshank says “is universally admired in jihadist circles and among the younger generation of al Qaeda leaders. Charismatic, intelligent, a religious scholar – and with the extra qualification of having escaped from U.S. custody in Afghanistan – his loss is ‘a cataclysmic blow’ to al Qaeda, according to analysts who follow the group.”
Leah Farrall questions that conclusion.
I wonder if those who think this is a victory (and those supporting the strategy of extrajudicial killings more generally) have given ample thought to the fact that he along with others who have been assassinated were actually a moderating force within a far more virulent current that has taken hold in the milieu. And yes, given his teachings I do note a certain irony in this, but sadly, it’s true.
What is coming next is a generation whose ideological positions are more virulent and who owing to the removal of older figures with clout, are less likely to be amenable to restraining their actions. And contrary to popular belief, actions have been restrained. Attacks have thus far been used strategically rather than indiscriminately. Just take a look at AQ’s history and its documents and this is blatantly clear.
In the years to come, owing to this generation being killed off, this type of restraint will disappear; in fact it is clearly already heading in this direction. A significant part of this change is directly attributable to the counter terrorism strategies being employed today.