Following the recent terrorist activity in London and Glasgow the UK is on top alert again. But maybe it is time to remember what Al Qaeda is, including the reasons for its successes and, most often, its failures.
There is an element of farce in the recent attacks. Two car bombs near a London night club – one towed away by parking attendants, the other caught smoking – and a car driven into a terminal at Glasgow Airport, but unable to pierce the doors.
The amateurishness of the attacks have not been properly stated – maybe it is thought not a subject for anything but total seriousness. But this is a mistake, for the amateur nature of these terrorists is vital to understanding what is going on.
Al Qaeda is not an organization in any sense we can understand. Rather, Osama Bin Laden offered rudimentary training, and a loose co-ordination network, for any Muslim who felt aggrieved about the west.
In this way, a terror cell can come into being simply by deciding they want to do it. There is not necessarily a higher leadership involved, and apart from access to information on the internet, they are left to their own devices.
This explains the amateur antics they get up to. Al Qaeda won’t be in the least bothered by this, for even if only one attack in a hundred is successful, they’ve done their job. For even the failures create an acute sense of fear.
This also explains why the security services find it so hard to track this new breed of terrorist. With no leadership network, the usual practice of one man leading to another does not work, and they fail to disclose the organization.
Hence, the amateur status of the terrorist is the key to its success. Quite often ‘invisible’ until an attack occurs, even when they are finally rounded up, they disclose nothing about other active cells. And the problem will remain for as long as some in the Muslim community feel aggrieved.
© Anthony North, July 2007
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