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Global Issues: Terrorism - Al Qaeda: A threat transformed? [FT]

Monday, February 15, 2010
by Owen Moelwyn-Hughes

This is an excerpt from an excellent article in the Financial Times – it is a must read.

“Nearly a decade ago, Osama bin Laden and his acolytes stunned the world with their simultaneous attacks on America. The September 11 2001 assault, hatched in several nations, killed more than 3,000 people, involved 20 operatives and cost, according to counter-terrorism sources, more than half a million dollars.

Today, intelligence chiefs in western capitals doubt that al-Qaeda could pull off an attack on this scale. Its core followers have been harried in Afghanistan and the bordering Pakistani tribal areas while the resources of national intelligence agencies have been beefed up to counter the threat from jihadism worldwide.

But a series of recent attacks has renewed concern that, even if Mr bin Laden and his core group are weakened, the al-Qaeda brand is alive and well, and is finding willing and active supporters in many places around the globe.

Some of the events that have triggered renewed debate about the scale of the jihadist threat have been splashed across newspaper front pages for weeks. On Christmas day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian student, is alleged to have come within an ace of exploding a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit. On December 30, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a 36-year-old CIA informant with links to al-Qaeda, blew up seven CIA employees in the Afghan city of Khost, one of the most remarkable operations against US intelligence in many years. On January 1, a Somali man broke into the home of Kurt Westergaard and allegedly came close to killing him in revenge for Mr Westergaard’s depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in newspaper cartoons in 2005.

Apart from highlighting recent development and action by al-Qaeda the second half of the article focuses on Britain and counter-terrorism measures.   READ HERE.

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