Zawahiri is not saying much that is new. The only real difference with what has gone before is the explicit focus on Britain. This does not indicate any direct link with the London bombs.
Whenever there has been an attack there has been a knee-jerk search for overseas links or for some kind of overall mastermind. No investigations into the London bombs have revealed any such connections.
Instead, we need to face up to the simple truth that bin Laden, Zawahiri et al do not need to organise attacks directly. They merely wait for the message they have spread around the world to inspire others. Al-Qaeda is now an idea, not an organisation. We now have a situation where autonomous cells carry out attacks on targets and at times of their own choosing, which are then applauded by al-Qaeda leaders of global infamy but limited practical ability to execute or organise strikes. This is exactly as Zawahiri and bin Laden had hoped. This is a virtual terrorist network, not a real one.
There may have been no mass uprising in the Islamic world, perhaps due to the sense and humanity of most of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims rather than any counter-terrorist strategy pursued by the West, but an increasing number of angry people have answered the call.
Zawahiri portrayed himself as a warrior and a statesman in the video broadcast on Thursday. He did not need any props to demonstrate his extraordinary gift for media manipulation.
This seems to me a very sensible article. Read the rest of this entry »