Saturday, March 27, 2010

Al-Qaeda Uses Weakness to Its Advantage

Via -

Stung by a US-Pakistani crackdown and dwindling manpower, Al-Qaeda is not staging stunning 9/11-style attacks but claiming responsibility for stray strikes on mainly Western targets, analysts say.

Although this is a sign of weakness, the new policy shows an ability to adapt which may pose a new danger, they warn.

Washington has stepped up drone raids in Pakistan against Islamist militants, who are also facing the heat of a Pakistani military offensive.

In the past year US President Barack Obama has put Pakistan at the centre of his fight against Al-Qaeda.

Osama Bin Laden's network is now too busy struggling to survive to organise coordinated attacks in his campaign for a global jihad, or holy war.

"Although they are protected by some elements in the Pakistani services, they have a real problem with manpower and means," said Alain Chouet, the former head of the security wing of France's external intelligence agency DGSE.

"They don't have enough men, adequate means of communication ... and whenever there is an attack, never mind where, who or when, there are two or three jokers from Pakistan who claim responsibility without any possibility of anyone establishing a clear link," he said.

Although he failed to down a US airliner on Christmas Eve, failed Nigerian suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutalab was hailed as a "hero" by Bin Laden who said his action carried a message.


French researcher Jean-Pierre Filiu, whose books include "The Nine Lives of Al-Qaeda," said the group was claiming responsibility for attacks staged by individuals "to magnify its toll of victims and its nuisance value."

He said regardless of the extent of the individual's links to the jihadist movement, there was a tendency to interpret the strike as evidence of a growing "global menace."

Chouet said by systematically claiming responsibility, the group was able to "maintain a certain importance, keep some generous donors and continue to exercise a certain influence while waiting for better times."

The media and Western officials, ready to label any attack linked to radical Islamists as an Al Qaeda act, were actually helping the group, the two experts said.

Isolated operatives were now making the task of intelligence agencies tougher, Filiu said.

"It's when they make contact with an organisation, make trips or establish communication that they can be spotted," he said.

"The real nightmare is the lone wolf because there is nothing to alert."

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