25 January 2006

There They Go Again

A NYT Op-Ed titled Al Qaeda's Big Boast offers an analysis of Osama bin Laden's recently released audiotape (free registration required).

The conclusion, neatly summed up in the last sentence, is that AQ is winning:
A movement that was staggering after the Taliban was toppled has come back with a vengeance.

Further, Osama bin Laden "shows strength", his strategy is "paying off", and the "jihadists are winning sympathy":
Had Americans instead listened with the ears of those for whom the message was intended - Muslims around the world - they would have heard something very different. Instead of a weak Osama bin Laden, they would have heard a magnanimous one who could offer a truce because "the war in Iraq is raging, and the operations in Afghanistan are on the rise in our favor."

Mr. bin Laden staked his claim to leadership of the Muslim world on 9/11, striking us as others only dreamed of doing. On the tape, he shows strength by taking credit for America's humiliation in Iraq and continues to do what we are not: fighting for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

It is too early to say how this tape will affect Muslim opinion, but there is no doubt that Mr. bin Laden's strategy has been paying off. According to a poll released last month by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland and Zogby International, when Muslims in several countries were asked what aspect of Al Qaeda they "sympathize" with most, 39 percent said it was because the group confronted the United States.
( ... )
Despite so much evidence that the jihadists are winning sympathy, America has provided no counter-story to their narrative.

Note that the Zogby poll data quoted is about "what aspect of Al Qaeda they "sympathize" with most", not whether Muslims sympathize with Al Qaeda at all.

A recent survey of Afghanis by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland shows that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are rejected by an overwhelming majority in that country:
Eight-one percent Afghans polled think Al-Qaeda is a negative influence in the world, with only six percent saying Osama bin Laden's terror network has a positive impact.

Osama bin Laden himself, once sheltered by the Taliban militia ousted with the help of a US-led coalition in 2001, has even lower ratings, with 90 percent of those polled saying they had an unfavourable view of him.

Dan Darling of ThreatsWatch has a less political analysis of the audiotape.

2005 One of the Most Successful For Freedom at Ace of Spades.

No "counter-story" indeed.

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