October 19, 2004


Al Qaeda no longer exists. Al Qaeda means “the base” in Arabic. It’s an accurate name for an organization that sought to replace the Cold War era terrorist sanctuaries and support services that made possible the first wave of Arab terrorism in the 1960s and 70s. Back then, the Soviet Union established training camps, and university level instruction, for Arabs wishing to commit terrorist acts in the West. The Soviets also provided sanctuary. In addition, the Soviets helped Arab nations, like Syria and Iraq, establish terrorist training camps, and provided advice on how to support terrorism without getting caught by the victims. For about ten years, Al Qaeda replaced the former Soviet terrorism support. But now, without a sanctuary to operate from, “the base” is no more. . . .

Al Qaeda was always feared for the loose relationship the many small Islamic terrorist groups, spread all over the planet, had with each other. What made these many groups (mostly composed of eager amateurs) really dangerous was their access to professional terrorists via al Qaeda. The eager amateurs no longer have an easy to find base. In fact, since September 11, 2001, the police have been more successful at finding these terrorists, than the terrorists have been in finding the many bits of al Qaeda out there. The base is no longer the base.

The end of Soviet support was a major blow to terrorism, which was nowhere near as much an authentic and spontaneous phenomenon as many have believed, or pretended. I hope that this will play out the same way.