|Terror after bin Laden|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 10:42|
al-Qaeda still a threat after bin Laden's death
On May Day, 2011, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. Navy Seal raid on his hideout in Pakistan. The terrorist's death was regarded as a serious blow against the feared terrorist group. One year later however, on a surprise visit to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama had to arrive in absolute secrecy under the secure cover of darkness.
Although security issues are always a concern for a U.S. president traveling to a war zone, the necessary measures also remind us of the real potential of a terrorist attack from al Qaeda, despite the group's reduced influence in Afghanistan by the war. As national and international intelligence have suggested, al Qaeda is still functioning and expanding worldwide.
Just recently, the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Richard Fadden, said al Qaeda could strike in the U.S. and other countries more frequently in the future thanks to a growing "individual jihad" movement. Instead of al Qaeda forces directing major terrorists strikes like the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. from a centralized base, individuals inspired by al Qaeda's ideology become the driving force of violence. As one representative of the RAND Corporation (a U.S. advisory group to the Pentagon) suggests, today's al-Qaeda "inspires, but doesn't control," preferring to work in collaboration with lone-wolf locals.
Creating such "lone wolf" al Qaeda operatives has become even easier in today's online network, where individuals can be inspired by how-to terrorist instructional magazines and social networking sites linking potential terrorists around the world. One example of this lone wolf phenomenon sparked by the internet was shooter Mohamed Merah who, inspired by the online al Qaeda movement, killed seven people in France last month
The decentralization of al Qaeda terrorist groups have also helped the movement to spread globally, encouraging lone wolfs to generate terrorists groups and attacks on their own. Al Qaeda, according to global intelligence, has spread to influential cells in Yemen, Algeria, Mali, Pakistan, Somalia and Nigerian. These cells integrate across borders by pledging cooperation, shared funding, weapons and terrorist strategies
This subtle shift from a clear hierarchy to a dispersed band of individuals means there is no longer a clear, geographical warfront in the war on terror, which makes tracking terrorists and anticipating attacks more difficult.
"It's not easy," says Fadden, "because these individuals seem to be a mix of terrorists and people who simply have very big personal problems. So it becomes very difficult to try to develop a doctrine, a series of operational capabilities, to deal with them."
So even as the U.S. recognized the one year anniversary of the killing of bin Laden, according to U.S. intelligence, the possibility of attacks within the U.S. by al Qaeda suicide terrorists still looms above us.
The potential of al Qaeda-influenced individuals operating anywhere in the U.S., including South Florida, is reason for the region's law enforcement authority, civic leaders and residents to remain vigilant and alert for signs of terrorists threats among our community. There is always the possibility that terrorists, in and outside al Qaeda, are intent on avenging bin Laden's death somewhere in America.
In addition, communities must also be sensitive to the cultural forces that drive troubles individuals towards ideologies of violence such as al Qaeda. The dangers of the desperate, lonely individual can be allayed by a community that actively values the worth of every individual, regardless of race, religion or circumstance.