Al Qaeda 2.0: What the next 10 years will bring
September 12th, 2011
12:49 PM ET

Al Qaeda 2.0: What the next 10 years will bring

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister

How has al Qaeda changed in the last decade - and what does that tell the world's counter-terrorism experts about what it will look like ten years from now?

As Congress prepares to hold a joint House and Senate Intelligence Hearing on the threat Tuesday, U.S. counter-terrorism officials tell CNN that al Qaeda today would find it very difficult to repeat an attack on the scale of 9/11 - but it has become a more diffuse and complex organization. The very name has become a label and an inspiration for terror cells on three continents. Even if, as U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asserts, Osama bin Laden's organization is mortally wounded, tracking and countering Islamist terrorism will continue to consume billions of dollars and some of the best minds in western intelligence for years to come.

And that's precisely the goal of al Qaeda new generation of leaders - in their 30s and 40s. They are focused less on the spectacular - hijackings and "dirty" nuclear bombs - and more on a war of attrition. And they see opportunities for establishing new bridgeheads as the Arab revolts undermine authoritarian rulers and their ruthless intelligence services.

Ten years ago al Qaeda was a bureaucratic organization headquartered in Taliban-run Afghanistan which had its own personnel and IT departments.

ALSO READ on Security Clearance  "Dead, Captured, Wanted: How the US has fared against Al Qaeda since 9/11"

It comprised mainly Arab fighters and had loose ties to other jihadist outfits - in Chechnya and south-east Asia for example. Today groups proclaiming their affiliation to al Qaeda find a home in ungoverned spaces in Somalia, Yemen, the Russian Causcasus and the Sahara. There are even al Qaeda cells in Egypt's Sinai desert, according to Egyptian military intelligence.

Under pressure, al Qaeda "central" - the remnants of bin Laden's group - has developed links with militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba - all of which are well entrenched in Pakistan.

The battle against al Qaeda in the next ten years will be on a much broader canvas.

The Rise of the Affiliates

In the last two years, three groups - al Qaeda in Pakistan, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) based in Yemen, and the Pakistani Taliban - have tried to carry out attacks in the United States, while Europe has been threatened by an even wider constellation of jihadist groups. Al Shabaab staged its first attack beyond Somalia with a double bombing in Kampala, Uganda in 2010.

"The affiliates are playing a greater role today - a more menacing role today - than in quite some time," U.S. State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin told a recent conference of the New America Foundation. "While the AQ core has weakened operationally, the affiliates have become stronger and consequently the broader AQ threat has become more geographically and ethnically diversified."

Better intelligence and a relentless campaign of drone attacks has weakened al Qaeda central and cut off its sources of funding. In one video that emerged from his compound in Abbottabad, Osama bin Laden cut a lonely, isolated figure - hunched over a TV screen. It seemed like a metaphor for his organization. While jihadists still travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan for training and the opportunity to take part in attacks on western forces, a growing number are heading to Yemen and Somalia - just as they headed to Iraq at the height of the insurgency there.

U.S counter-terrorism officials already see AQAP in Yemen as the most immediate threat to the United States. Under the guidance of American cleric Anwar al Awlaki, the group attempted to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 and in October 2010 dispatched two printer bomb packages from Yemen's capital Sanaa that were timed to explode over the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

The group has taken advantage of political turmoil in Yemen to expand its safe haven in the south. "Our highest priority is the United States. Anything there, even on a smaller scale compared to what we may do in the United Kingdom, would be our choice, " Anwar al Awlaki told an operative based in the UK in an encrypted internet communication in 2010.

While Osama bin Laden thought in terms of weapons of mass destruction and mass casualties, Awlaki's template recognizes that western intelligence has vastly improved its ability to detect such ambitious plots. Instead, his group looks for vulnerable niches: in air cargo, or using explosives such as PETN that are difficult to detect. It is less about the destruction such attacks might cause and more about the expense in defending against them, and the psychological effect should they succeed. It is less about establishing bin Laden's dream of a global Caliphate and more about disrupting western economies.

Above all, it's about attacks by individuals, some of them directed and mentored in the mountains of Yemen, others self-radicalized by the slick online propaganda being produced by AQAP. And it seems this approach is finding favor elsewhere. Al Qaeda central's media arm As Sahab recently released a video titled "You are Only Responsible for Yourself," encouraging followers to carry out acts of individual terrorism in the West - by buying weapons at gunshows in America for example, where background checks are not carried out. In it, American al Qaeda propagandist Adam Gadahn said: "It's simply a matter of taking precautions, working in total secrecy, and making use of all means to do damage to the enemy."

Gun attacks by terrorists are one of the scenarios that are now causing most concern to Western-counter-terrorism officials because of the relative ease with which such weapons can be acquired. Their potential lethality was demonstrated by alleged Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik in his shooting rampage outside Oslo in July, an attack that has drawn comment on jihadist forums.

Counter-terrorism sources in Europe and the United States tell CNN that their greatest concern is the vulnerability of soft targets such as hotels and shopping malls to gun attacks and hostage-taking. The Mumbai attack in November 2008 captivated global media attention for three days, as a small group of Lashkar-e-Taiyyiba terrorists held off Indian security forces in two of the city's luxury hotels. A total of 164 people were killed.

Senior al Qaeda figures have publicly called for the Mumbai model to be exported.

The New Global Al Qaeda Network

If al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seems the most potent affiliate today, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) may not be far behind it. It has established a presence in areas of Mali, Mauretania and Niger where government is weak - and has made millions of dollars through kidnapping westerners and working with drug smugglers. It could take advantage of chaos in Libya to obtain sophisticated weaponry including surface to air missiles. So far relatively few of its fighters appear to have entered Libya but that could change. Libya's National Transitional Council has also been grappling with the increasing assertiveness of Salafi Islamists in the east of the country, some of whom they fear are sympathetic to al Qaeda, according to a former Libyan jihadist.

AQIM may also forge links with other jihadist-terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria which has claimed responsibility for killing dozens in a suicide car bombing of a U.N. building in Abuja last month.

"What is concerning about AQIM is that it's a group that's Africanizing and is trying to extend its zone of influence - making contact with Boko Haram in the north of Nigeria and with [Somali group] Al Shabaab, says EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. Its reach may not yet extend to the West, but nor did that of AQAP two years ago.

Like AQIM, al Shabaab in Somalia is beset by internal rivalries and lost one of its key operatives Fazul Abdullah Mohammed in a fire-fight in Mogadishu recently. But it also has plenty of recruits from north America and Europe in its ranks. And there are signs that it is co-operating with al Qaeda in Yemen, a short distance across the Arabian Sea.

Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali citizen captured in April and interrogated aboard a U.S. navy ship for two months before being taken to New York to face terrorism charges, had been in direct contact with Anwar al Awlaki and had attempted to broker a weapons deal between the groups according to the indictment in his case. Warsame has pleaded not guilty.

In Iraq, the U.S. strategy to turn Sunni tribal sheikhs against al Qaeda vastly degraded the group, but under the title Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) it is still able to launch co-ordinated bombing attacks, as was illustrated by a wave of deadly bombings across the country in August. If allowed to re-establish itself, the group would try again to ignite sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite Iraqis, and sabotage the investment Iraq badly needs to revive its economy. In a recent paper for the New America Foundation, Brian Fishman argued that ISI "will have to look outside Iraq's borders to engage directly in al-Qaeda's global strategy of bleeding and weakening the United States."

Globally, the only unambiguously positive picture in the fight against al Qaeda terrorism is in South East Asia where groups affiliated with al Qaeda - like Jamma Islamiya - have been significantly weakened by counter-terrorism operations by security services and by a hemorrhaging in local support because of the number of Muslim civilians killed in its attacks.

Al Qaeda Central – trying to adapt

Al Qaeda central has suffered one blow after another this year. Besides the death of Osama bin Laden, drone strikes have taken out several top al Qaeda commanders in Pakistan, most recently Atiyah al Rahman, al Qaeda's chief of operations. A senior U.S. counter-terrorism official told CNN that from an operational standpoint the death of al Rahman was a more severe blow to the terrorist organization even than the death of bin Laden. Another senior figure, Younis al Mauretani, was detained by Pakistani authorities in August, and Ilyas Kashmiri, one of the most effective terrorists in the world, was reported killed in a drone strike in June.

But al Qaeda central remains the "policy-making" authority and has the allegiance of its regional affiliates. It has powerful associates who thrive on Pakistan's inability to control its border territory and its ambivalence towards the "new" Afghanistan. A grand bargain that led moderate the Taliban to join the political process and sever links with al Qaeda – – and at the same time injected new stability into Pakistan - would further shrink al Qaeda's space. But that seems a distant prospect.

And there are signs that al Qaeda is adapting to its new circumstances. It appears to have moved some of its operations to Pakistan's settled areas to escape drone strikes. Al Mauretani and two other operatives were captured in the teeming city of Quetta in south-western Pakistan. And both al Qaeda and the Pakistan Taliban have established a foothold in Karachi, Pakistan's violent metropolis on the Arabian Sea. In May an al Qaeda unit attacked and occupied a Pakistani naval station in the city.

In recent years al Qaeda has tried to 'turn' western jihadists intent on fighting in Afghanistan, training them to return to Europe and the United States to carry out attacks. Najibullah Zazi, a young Afghan living in Denver, was one such recruit. Bryant Neal Vinas from Long Island was another. And it's not just al Qaeda. Pakistani American Faisal Shahzad who tried to blow up a car bomb in New York's Times Square on May 1, 2010 was recruited and trained by the Pakistani Taliban, not al Qaeda. British authorities say hundreds of Western militants are currently training or operating in Pakistan.

Al Qaeda has also promoted new recruits who have a keen understanding of Western vulnerabilities. One of them is American but Saudi-born Adnan Shukrijumah, who is thought to have orchestrated Zazi's bomb plot against the New York subway system. And the organization appears to be using increasingly sophisticated encryption techniques in internet communications with operatives dispatched to the West.

Even so, it is now a more fragmented organization. Rami Makanesi, a militant from the German city of Hamburg who spent time in al Qaeda camps in Waziristan in 2009-2010, and was subsequently convicted of involvement in plans to attack European targets, told German interrogators that al Qaeda had split up into 30-40 subgroups. He said al Qaeda was now a "title" for a constellation of jihadist groups in the area, including militants from the Arab world, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and "even the Taliban." Vinas, the American al Qaeda recruit, convicted of helping to plot an attack on the Long Island Railroad in 2008, said cooperation was so close between al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and other Pakistani militant groups that lines blurred between them.

U.S. counter-terrorism officials say it is this blurring between different jihadist groups - together with the danger posed by completely homegrown "al Qaeda inspired" terrorists - that makes the terrorist threat to the United States so complex today.

"The fact that the threat can now come at us from so many directions means that our work is more challenging than ever," a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official told CNN.

The New Al Qaeda Strategy

New al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri's strategy is to harness the energies of al Qaeda's affiliates but to exert greater direction over them, according to Noman Benotman, a former Libyan jihadist once acquainted with bin Laden, Zawahiri, and several other al Qaeda leaders.

While every al Qaeda affiliate has recognized Zawahiri as al Qaeda's new leader, counter-terrorism analysts believe it will be difficult for Zawahiri - long a polarizing figure in the jihadist movement - to exert strategic direction over them. The death of Libyan operative Al Rahman appears to have been a further blow in this regard. "Atiyah was the one affiliates knew and trusted, "a U.S. official told CNN.

According to Benotman, now a senior analyst at the Quilliam Foundation, a UK counter-terrorism think-tank, Zawahiri is determined to take advantage of political turmoil in the Arab world. "Their top priority right now is not Afghanistan or Pakistan or launching attacks against the United States, but re-organizing themselves in the Arab world," Benotman told CNN.

Benotman says he has detected a noticeable softening in Zawahiri's ultra-hardline rhetoric in recent months, and believes he may be trying to revive support for the organization in the Arab world after a backlash against it because of the barbaric violence of its Iraqi affiliate.

In the short term Benotman predicts that al Qaeda will devote significant energy to building up a capability to strike Israel from the Sinai, Gaza, and neighboring countries because of the group's ideological view that Israel props up what it views as a secular Arab political order that it seeks to topple. Launching attacks against Israel would also be a calculated attempt by the group to re-energize its support base, according to Benotman.

The Importance of the Arab Spring

Most counter-terrorism analysts agree that key to al Qaeda's fortunes will be the evolution of the Arab Spring. The dismantling of oppressive security and intelligence police in several Arab countries has given it an opportunity to re-organize and more easily transit operatives though the region.

"Some of their comrades from the Afghan days are now commanding rebel units in Libya. They see Islamist-only rebel brigades being formed there.  They see what is going on in Yemen - of course they feel they have a huge opportunity," Benotman told CNN.

While the origins of the protests made al Qaeda seem irrelevant for a period, the well-organized young professionals who led those protests are vastly outnumbered by poor, conservative Muslims who - in Egypt at least - are beginning to display their political muscle. For al Qaeda the Arab revolts are a double-edged sword. Prolonged instability and a deepening economic crisis would work in its favor. But a new political model in the Arab world, where popular Islamist parties play a constitutional role, would undercut al Qaeda's appeal.

U.S. State Department Counter-terrorism Coordinator Benjamin says that should events in the Arab world lead to "durable, democratic, elected, non-autocratic governments then AQ's single-minded focus on violence as an instrument of political change will be severely, and I think irretrievably delegitimized."

But the Arab Spring is like a ladder whose rungs are far from secure, and the events of 2011 are just a couple of steps up that ladder.


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Arab Spring • Libya • Living With Terror • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Terrorism • Yemen
soundoff (521 Responses)
  1. Juece

    These guys seem cool. They alsways chillin posting videos. They gotta be rich and full of resources because the American government spends trillions looking for them instead of education and job creaion like infrastructure. Forget being a scam artist politician, bankers, and investers stealing from everyone, these guys seem like they're about some action.

    September 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  2. KaraOK

    Al-Qaeda 2.0 will be aided and abetted by Muslims 2.0 and Liberals 2.0

    September 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  3. 1fatjeff

    They are defiantly losing on all fronts and will someday be history.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  4. Ben James

    Never before, or after 9-11-2001 in the history of the planet has a steel frame high-rise building collapsed as the result of fire and yet it is supposed to have happened 3 times in 1 day on 911.
    WTC Tower 7: Height 642 ft (160 m), 44 Floors, collapsed symmetrically into its own footprint by demolition after a countdown can be clearly heard over 2 way radios to clear emergency personnel from the area of the building. WTC Billionaire owner Larry Silverstein quoted directly on national TV describing what happened to WTC Tower 7 said: "I said maybe the smartest thing to do is to PULL IT. And then they made the decision to PULL, and we watched the building collapse." Clearly the decision to "PULL" refers to controlled demolition. In point of fact unexplained explosions were reported in WTC Tower 7 even before the collapse Tower 1. No aircraft hit Tower 7 on 911 and when the building was demolished it had only 2 small areas of fire secondary to the collapse of Tower 1 which was more than 400 feet away to the south west.
    Flight 77: All of the hundreds of Pentagon security videos have been withheld from the public except one 15 second clip which clearly DOES NOT show a commercial aircraft, but something much more like a drone or cruise missile passing along the courtyard and into the Pentagon. The original hole made by the impact in the Pentagon parameter wall was approximately 19 feet wide and penetrated the outer wall of the Pentagon's E Ring and the damage extended all the way through the inner wall of the C Ring, through the heavily reinforced walls. The aircraft used for Flight 77 that supposedly hit the Pentagon was a Boeing 757-223 which has a fuselage 37 feet in diameter and 2 large wing mounted engines. The hole in the Pentagon wall was only 19 feet wide, and yet the entire aircraft is supposed to have compressed itself, gone into a 19 foot hole and disappeared leaving virtually no trace of engines, wings, tail , passengers, luggage, and seats. It is very, very simple: Why doesn't the Pentagon release the videos being withheld and end the controversy once and for all, unless they are hiding something?
    Flight 93: At the "official" crash site the coroner's examination showed no evidence of human blood or tissue whatsoever. In addition no aircraft engines, luggage, seats, wings, or tail were found at the crash site. In the history of air travel this has never happened before or since. Even when a plane few at full speed into the face of a mountain in Brazil the crash debris contained all the evidence conspicuously missing at the site of Flight 93. The largest fragments at the 93 site were measured in centimeters. Never in the history of aviation has a cash yielded this type of results except on 911.

    September 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  5. Freedom

    More muslim crap for another 100 years.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  6. Al Kider

    Hi. I am the new spokesperson for al-Qaeda. Just call me Al. Over the next ten years we expect to diversify our holdings and acquire stock in agricultural areas while divesting ourselves of our holdings in goat futures and turban factories. We'll be putting some money into public relations and hiring quite a few bosomy starlets to promote our new Bacon Flavored Hummus© "You'll Run Away Screaming!"™ Remember, it's not your old ayatollah's al-Qaeda anymore, oh, and 'Death to America.'

    September 13, 2011 at 9:42 am | Reply
    • Cole

      Oh wow your hilarious. I'm 15 and I can see that this is serious thing and your joking about it!! People are afraid and dying and you're pretending to be the spokes person. Maybe we could hold you responsible for the 3,000 dead from 9/11. Could you try to be a little more matur

      September 13, 2011 at 9:55 am | Reply
      • Al Kider

        We have a suicide vest just your size, Cole. And it says WEENIE on the back so everyone will know it's you. 'Death to America!"™

        September 13, 2011 at 10:18 am |
      • Dick Cheney

        Yeah, Al, be a little more respectful of al-Qaeda there. You're upsetting the kids.

        September 13, 2011 at 10:31 am |
      • frank

        Hahahhahah - awesome!

        September 13, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
      • Juece

        Hey cole, there are 20 million violent crimes in america done by other americans. Just watch you back, you or anyone else are not gonna have to worry about any terrorists kid. 9/11 was bad airplane security at the most. Ask yourself one question. How does anyone know the real number of terroists on planes that were completely destroyed with no evidence????

        September 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  7. Hashim

    For more info read groundbreaking novel- king of Bat'ha

    September 13, 2011 at 9:34 am | Reply
  8. Bill

    Oh dear, CNN really has hit rock bottom. Hey, CNN, how is your 9/11 VicSIM memorial holding up? Lots of rearranging / editing to do, huh? Must be a pain.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:58 am | Reply
  9. MK54

    Al Qaeda will fade away.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:54 am | Reply
    • Cole

      Yes they will. People were afraid of what would happen after Osama Bin Laden was killed but his death made Al Queda very unorganized.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:58 am | Reply
      • Al Kider

        We are going through a period of reorganization and readjustment on the advice of our stockholders, who feel that 'fatwas' are an unsustainable program in this uncertain economy. We've trying to hire jihadis with M.B.A's and feel that we might be more successful in the entertainment field than in the fatwa business. Any of you chicks want to be in a movie? Call me. Oh, and 'Death to America!"™

        September 13, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  10. Karmic Tips

    Looks like we are making/building a case here for another reckless spending for the next 10 more years.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:43 am | Reply
  11. Iwami a Salami

    Anwar al Awlaki gives the best hand jobs in all of Islam. He has smoothe hands and uses fragrant lotion.

    Only 5 rupees. Go to toilet near camel station and tap foot three times at water troth.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:39 am | Reply
    • Al Kider

      This is a filthy lie promoted by our enemies. He charges at least 25 rupees. "Death to America!"™

      September 13, 2011 at 10:25 am | Reply
  12. DD

    Most of their people live in poverty. Don't you think their time & resources would be better spent improving their own countries instead of worrying about someone else's? Isn't economic success the best revenge? Build & grow something better than USA. It seems to be working for China.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:33 am | Reply
  13. Andrew

    In truth, it's going to be like it should have been in the 90s. WHACKA MOLE. They put their heads up, and we smack'em down. Fortunately Predator(now Reaper and Avenger) drones are making that increasingly cost effective.

    This will go on until they get the message that they're better off doing things like... I dunno, growing crops, hearding sheep, going to school, teaching their kids, digging wells, paving roads, taking care of their people, all the stuff that's not getting down now because they're dragging their best and brightest into a useless conflict with the West or they're preventing the West from doing it for them.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:27 am | Reply
    • Al Kider

      Andrew, heard of sheep? We sure have. Baaa. "Death to America."™

      September 13, 2011 at 9:55 am | Reply
      • Cole

        America isn't going away for a long while, as long as Obama isn't elected again.

        September 13, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Cole

      I know right? They have so much money over there from all their oil but they're spending it all on fighting us. Well at least the United Arab Emarites are doing fine.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:01 am | Reply
  14. Meh

    Spending a ton of money on the situation hasnt helped...maybe if we ignore them they will go away instead.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • Andrew

      Yeah. That's what Clinton did during repeated attempts throughout his presidency. He even shirked several chances to kill bin Laden. And look what that led to.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:37 am | Reply
      • Al Kider

        To be fair, Andrew had several chances to stop us back then too, since we ran a mini mart next to his house. He bought Playboys from us instead. I guess, like Clinton, he didn't know who we were. "Death to America!"™

        September 13, 2011 at 9:45 am |
      • Cole

        He was too focused on his young intern! Bush actually put things into motion. People don't realize if it weren't for him we wouldn't have killed Bin Laden. Countries were afraid of Bush because they knew he would take action. That's what we need, a president who is not afraid!!

        September 13, 2011 at 10:05 am |
      • Cole

        This is to Al Kider, you're really funny. You can run the minimart but we can be in charge of you!!

        September 13, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  15. Sam

    When are we going to stop giving the thugs of Al Qaeda relevance? They don't need to attack us...just continue their BS and CNN and others will stir the drama and their terror is complete. Al Qaeda is a bully on playground...yes capable of doing harm. However, the more attention you give them, the more they will spread their BS. We have raised them to fame. Good work CNN and Fox!

    September 13, 2011 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • brian

      We will stop whn we also stop giving an ear to AIPAC who are known agents of a foreign naton.
      Why else would the group change their name to AIPAC when too many of their followers are marked as spies?

      September 13, 2011 at 8:07 am | Reply
      • Sam

        Want to tell me how your statement has relevance to Al Qaeda and my post? I work in DOD in Washington. We made Al Qaeda who it is. See how Europeans deal with terror? How did the UK handle the bombing in the subway system? Did they scream the sky is falling? No and what happened? The more relevance you give them the more they will continue. We have become a nation of Drama, "This Daytime Drama has been brought to you by, CNN and Fox!"

        September 13, 2011 at 8:14 am |
      • frank

        SAM: What happened is they have enclaves run by Sharia law where police cannot enter.

        Hmmmmmm - lets pass on the European model, OK?

        September 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jenny

      Sam I agree. I'm waiting for these morons to have a red carpet event. They are as famous as the Kardashians and in my opinion just as cartoonish. Plus they love all the attention.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:34 am | Reply
      • Al Kider

        As the new local representative for al-Qaeda, I can reveal that we are hoping to hire one or more Kardashians to promote our new line of high-fashion burlap burkhas. Can't you just see those long legs and bubblebutt hidden under a tarp so nothing but the eyes show? "Death to America!"™

        September 13, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Dan

      Can't argue with your two points here, Sam.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:41 am | Reply
    • Cole

      I never thought about that. What about in the 90s before anyone knew who they were and they set off the bomb in the parking garage of one of the towers. Remember, hundreds hurt, ring any bells?

      September 13, 2011 at 10:08 am | Reply
  16. fritz

    Al Qaeda + Afrikanization = BIG problem. Just like Bob Greene of CNN mentioned the other day in his article on the "War on Terrorism", this war will never end. One generation begets the next to pick up and run with the terrorist ball, and this will continue ad infinitum. It's ignorant to think I'm being negative in my outlook as this is a war, as Greene mentioned, with those who wear no uniforms, have no flag, and adhere to no borders: they are those of us who exist everywhere. We need to continue to live as if this hasn't effected us, but it has, and because of that, our world has slowly become more micro than macro. If AQIM is successful in their Afrikanization of al Qaeda, then all bets are off as to duration, attack points, all the who's, what's, and where's. If they succeed, their brand of the "colonization" of Africa will truly be legendary, because every western nation has failed..........(yes, South Africa is a mess – that barely meets the standards of any western dominion). So break out the party favors..........and buy more: it's gonna be a long ride, and most of us, if not all, will be long gone by the time it's considered "over".

    September 13, 2011 at 7:58 am | Reply
  17. nnn

    when will cnn tell us about how alwaki dined at the pentagon after 911?

    September 13, 2011 at 5:57 am | Reply
    • Chad

      There's nothing to tell. I assume you're trying to make some conspiracy theory about how they were working together? Right after 9/11, Awlaki was presenting himself as a moderate muslim who spoke out against the terrorists. Now he may have been pretending or he may have really felt that way and then changed over time (we will never know), but to try and add one plus one and make three is just idiotic on your part.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  18. Lazerslayer

    I don't post often, but this one I could not pass up. I work in an area that is uniquely qualified to end your rants.

    10 year plan, Zawahiri and Awlaki, I doubt you will make the first anniversary.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:20 am | Reply
  19. Kathy

    I think it's high time we stop giving free air time and press to Al Queda...

    September 13, 2011 at 5:16 am | Reply
    • Al Kider

      That seems reasonable; how much is your advertising rate? As the new managing director of al-Qaeda, I can tell you we're going to need some PR work.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  20. R

    The next 10 years will bring whatever the CIA and other complicit intelligence agencies dream-up!

    September 13, 2011 at 5:14 am | Reply
    • Al Kider

      We're thinking of making bin Laden plushie dolls©. Too soon? How about M&Ms with teeny little Mohamed faces on them? Because this "jihad-and-fatwa" business we're in right now is so "Windows95." We've got to change with the times, and so we need a new line in time for Fall. Don't miss our "Al-Qaeda's Own Bacon Flavored Hummus©." You'll Run Away Screaming!™
      Al Kider, managing director of al-Qaeda USA
      "Death To America!"™

      September 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  21. James

    I hope they assassinate Al Awlaki Asap.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:21 am | Reply
    • Al Kider

      Asap is not a member of al-Qaeda, according to my membership rolls. Another failure of US intelligence! 'Death to America!' ™

      September 13, 2011 at 11:36 am | Reply
  22. bmull

    Awlaki denies he is a member of al Qaeda and no public evidence has been produced to the contrary, but it's hard to pursue a libel case when you're targeted for assassination.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:55 am | Reply
  23. Bill

    We are Al Qaeda. The next 10 years will bring more videos that look as if they were made on Public Access TV. Also, we will continue to wear crooked glasses. Thank you for your time.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:31 am | Reply
    • Al Kider

      We buy those glasses from my cousin Akbar. He guarantees they will keep us chaste and pure. "Death to America."™

      September 13, 2011 at 9:53 am | Reply
      • Cole

        Really dude? Why don't you just go and comment on a soft story and leave this to the people who are interested and would like to voice there opinions. "GO AMERICA!"

        September 13, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  24. Cory

    And here we go again.... ._.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:29 am | Reply
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