Psst... Niall.... just because you haven't noticed does not mean that radical Islamist movements haven't declined. Last I checked, groups like Al Qaeda were waning in popularity among Muslim populations (to the point where Osama bin Laden mused about renaming Al Qaeda). Oh, and if you failed to notice, you should know that Osama bin Laden is still dead.
Despite nearly a decade of war, al Qaeda is stronger today than when it carried out the 9/11 attacks.. Today, it has more members, greater geographic reach, and a level of ideological sophistication and influence it lacked ten years ago.
Overly optimistic arguments about al-Qaeda’s demise based on the attrition of itsleadership overlook three key points. First, al-Qaeda has always been a small, eliteorganization... Second, al-Qaeda’s ideology and tactics have spread to awide range of militant groups in South Asia, all of which are relatively large... Finally, al-Qaeda Central has seeded a number of franchises around the Middle East and North Africa [... which] has now allowed them to co-opt American citizens in the broader global al-Qaeda battlefield.
al Qaeda’s second-tier leadership manages most of the group’s interaction with its subsidiaries, the removal of either Zawahiri or bin Laden would not overly affect the unity among the organization’s core, branch, and franchises, nor would it impede communication among them.. Messages from the branch and the franchises to the core then generally go through al Qaeda’s second-tier leadership, which briefs Zawahiri, bin Laden, or both if the issue is urgent — that is, involves gaining permission for external operations or resolving a conflict between or within the subsidiaries.
Information confirming bin Laden’s active role in al Qaeda continues to emerge, painting the portrait of a “micro-manager,” as an unidentified U.S. official quoted in ProPublica, called him. “He was down in the weeds [determining] best operatives, best targets, best timing.” And U.S. intelligence analysts pouring over bin Laden’s personal diary have concluded that he was involved in “every recent major al Qaeda threat.” He also remained involved in planning future attacks...