Wednesday 18 October 2017

One man's death won't finish off al-Qaeda franchise

It would be wrong to imagine that the jihadists are going to be beaten any time soon, writes Ivor Roberts

'We got him" was the cry. "A great day" the assessment. May 2011? Well yes, but also December 2003, after the capture of Saddam Hussein. The years immediately after the capture of Saddam were anything but great. They were awful, with terrorism on an unprecedented scale in Iraq led by one of Osama bin Laden's most fanatical followers, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, whose speciality seemed to be beheading Western captives.

So despite the understandable sense of euphoria, satisfaction and (for the relatives of those killed in their thousands on Bin Laden's instructions) closure, let us temper our relief with a realistic assessment of the future of Islamic terrorism, of which al-Qaeda is the leading but hardly the only brand name.

Part of the difficulty arises precisely from the fact that al-Qaeda is now a franchise as well as, apparently, a calling, which brings together a variety of militant jihadi organisations and movements.

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