Jan 22nd 2009
From The Economist print edition
Military setbacks and ideological disputes have put al-Qaeda on the defensive
OSAMA BIN LADEN’S messages from the wilderness get little attention nowadays. Al-Qaeda has been unable to land a blow on Western soil since the 2005 London bombings. Its leaders lurk in Pakistan’s tribal belt, hiding from regular lethal attacks by America’s unmanned Predator aircraft. Their Pushtun hosts are tiring of their troublesome guests. Perhaps most damaging, former supporters publicly denounce its ideology.
The resultant bickering and low morale do not mean that al-Qaeda and its followers cannot still mount spectacular attacks. Western intelligence services are convinced the group tried to blow up several transatlantic airliners in 2006. It can still pose a menace in, say, parts of Asia. But for now, Mr bin Laden has to try to exploit the ne
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