Al Qaeda: With bin Laden dead, rise of Arab Spring could end terrorist group

Supporters of hardline pro-Taliban party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Nazaryati shout anti-U.S. slogans in Quetta yesterday after the death of Osama bin Laden.

The death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a blow to the terrorist organization, which may now try to prove it is still alive by conducting new attacks, experts said.

“There’s no question that it hurts al Qaeda,” Steven L. Spiegel, the director of UCLA’s Center for Middle East Development told Metro. “But it’s a bunch of franchises and local operations. I don’t think he was planning every attack … and therefore they’ll unfortunately try to show that they are still alive.

“It’s a life and death struggle now to prove they are still viable.”

Experts said the splintered organization based in the Middle East had become mostly irrelevant in the last five years and more recently with the Arab Spring movements challenging power in many countries.

“Al Qaeda, in recent years morphed from an organization into an idea. And the idea has proven increasingly unattractive to most Arabs,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He tweeted his analysis of the death on his Twitter account yesterday.

Hamid said he wasn’t sure bin Laden’s death mattered “except symbolically.”  

“UN Sec-Gen says Bin Laden’s death is ‘watershed moment’ in fight against terror,” Hamid tweeted. “The real ‘watershed moment’ in fight against terror was the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions.”

Spiegel thought the death of bin Laden could help those ongoing movements.

“I see this accelerating trends already on the way, but it doesn’t change anything,” he said.


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