Terrorism: What Is Al-Qaeda Without Its Boss?

The answer: no matter what happens to bin Laden, the group still has many tentacles

  • Share
  • Read Later

(4 of 4)

One worrisome figure in Britain is Abu Qatada, a London-based Islamic cleric wanted in Jordan for alleged terrorist offenses. (Qatada told the Washington Post he was a "simple teacher of Islam" with a "big mouth.") The British government has given him sanctuary for years. However, it did recently freeze his bank account at the request of the U.S. And last week Home Secretary David Blunkett published a package of emergency legislation--expected to be law before Christmas--that includes the right to indefinitely detain foreign terrorist suspects who cannot be deported because of the risk they might be tortured or put to death in the countries that want them.

By now it's a truism that terrorism can't be eradicated 100%. Even in the U.S., which is under extraordinary security, officials fear an attack at any time. And liquidating the al-Qaeda command will only fix part of the problem. The long-term solution requires tackling the underlying political, economic and social roots of terrorism--unresolved demands for Palestinian rights, perversion of Islam by radical clerics, corruption and poverty in many Arab states and grievances over U.S. policy in the region. Bin Laden and his lieutenants didn't start the wave of Islamic terrorism; they only rode it for a while. Which is why they won't be totally defeated, even in the flames of an-Nar.

--Reported by Bruce Crumley/Paris, Helen Gibson/London, Scott MacLeod/Cairo, Matt Rees/Amman and Elaine Shannon/Washington

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. Next Page