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October 28, 2016

Top al Qaeda Leader Killed but What Does This Mean for Fight on Terror?

According to Jay Carney, the official White House spokesman, Abu Yahya al-Libi is dead. Abu Yahya al-Libi, who has been the number 2 man in al Qaeda, was killed this past week.

Reports indicate that the terrorist leader was killed in Pakistan after a drone strike by the CIA. This is the second top al Qaeda official to be killed in the last year. Osama bin Laden was finally caught and terminated just a little over a year ago.

The current leader of al Qaeda is Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over after the killing of bin Laden.

Experts claim that Abu Yahya al-Libi was one of the most important men in al Qaeda. Reportedly, he was one of the leaders in planning attacks against the Western world. He had great respect and authority within al Qaeda. United States officials speculate that replacing him will be very difficult.

Carney said, “his (al-Libi’s) death is part of the degradation taking place in core al Qaeda in the last several years.”

Deterioration of al Qaeda?

A pleasant thought for many Americans is that as we slowly take out top al Qaeda officials, especially Osama bin Laden, is that we are actually defeating al Qaeda and destroying the terror group and terrorism overall. But, we’re not.

The thing about al Qaeda is that it is not a strict hierarchical organization, but it is instead a network full of cells worldwide. One reason for this is as bin Laden projected the views of al Qaeda, he never portrayed them as his views. It was never about bin Laden getting what he wanted, but instead about resurrecting Islam and restoring morality to the world. He spoke of the movement, not of himself and his own personal beliefs.

As a result, the al Qaeda movement is more than just a group and it operates on so many levels that the death of one man may not hurt much, if anything at all.

To the American and Western people, the death of Osama bin Laden was one of the best moments in history. To followers of bin Laden and Islamic extremists, his death was one of the worst moments in history and created a martyr out of the terrorist leader.

What can we do to fight terror?

Fighting terror is not simple. It might not even be the best strategy. Most would define terrorism as something along the lines of an act of violence or threat of violence on a target population that invokes fear with the goal of inflicting a psychological cost that helps provoke political change.

Around one thousand people have died because of terror attacks so far in 2012 and we’re not even halfway through the year.

The truth of the matter is we cannot equip enough officers to stop terrorists. We can work to stop another 9/11, but there is very little we can do to stop a smaller attack like a car bombing or a shooting.

War is not the answer

In this era, there is no enemy in the form of a state. Conflicts in the world today are about race, religion, and morality. These conflicts tend to be intrastate, not interstate.

With the modernizing of the Middle East and North Africa, the few remaining states with oppressive regimes are being pushed out. Soon, few governments will be the enemy of the United States.

There is no state of al Qaeda. There is no official headquarters of al Qaeda. The terror group is sprinkled around the world.

The truth of the matter is with modern technology, it is very hard to tell who is a terrorist and who is not. The truth is, not everyone in al Qaeda is a Middle Eastern Islamic man. The truth is, there is no reliable set of characteristics to decipher who is a terrorist and who is not.

The murders of Osama bin Laden and Abu Yahya al-Libi are mostly moral victories. They might cause al Qaeda to do a stutter step, but in terms of the long run, they are nothing more than minor bumps in the road.

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