US: Al-Qaeda on the run

posted at 9:33 am on May 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

A year ago, Michael Hayden warned that al-Qaeda had rebounded and presented a critical threat to the United States. Yesterday, he told the Washington Post that AQ and its network had suffered defeats across the board and now faced significantly increased hostility from fellow Muslims. What happened? Three guesses:

Less than a year after his agency warned of new threats from a resurgent al-Qaeda, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In a strikingly upbeat assessment, the CIA chief cited major gains against al-Qaeda’s allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group’s core leadership.

While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, Hayden said Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.

All that has changed, Hayden said in an interview with The Washington Post this week that coincided with the start of his third year at the helm of the CIA.

“On balance, we are doing pretty well,” he said, ticking down a list of accomplishments: “Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally — and here I’m going to use the word ‘ideologically’ — as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam,” he said.

This all started with the American surge in Iraq. A year ago, AQI had plenty of reason to brag about its operations in Iraq. The US had not fought back effectively against the terrorist network in the western provinces, and they held significant territory. They had subjugated enough of the area to proclaim a new Caliphate and urge recruits to join them in building the Islamic State of Iraq.

Instead, these recruits found out that AQI held these areas only through terrorizing other Muslims, and unfortunately for them, they arrived just when General David Petraeus brought the new counterinsurgency strategies to Iraq. Bolstered by an additional 30,000 troops, Petraeus began to clear Iraq of the terrorist network, along with new tribal alliances and assistance from more secular insurgent groups who belatedly discovered that the Americans were far more preferable than Osama bin Laden’s lunatics. AQI suffered an unending series of losses to the American military, which led to a far more damaging loss of prestige among Islamists.

The increased pace of attacks on Islamist bases in Pakistan has also helped degrade AQ. Several high-level planners have already met their doom via Predator drones, and the pace indicates that the US has received better intel over the last few months than ever before. As long as the attacks continue, the terrorists will find it difficult to maintain effective communications with its cells in other nations.

These gains could still be lost. Hayden warned against a return to the pre-9/11 mindset, saying that complacency could put us back into the same posture that allowed 9/11 to take place. Just as important, though, is to keep pressure where we have succeeded: in Iraq. A premature withdrawal that allows AQI to reform in western Iraq would certainly boost the flagging fortunes of the Osama network and once again provide a major recruitment point.


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I knew eventually, the MSM would have to acknowledge the progress. Otherwise, how would they explain, down the road, when people started going there to vacation?

kcd on May 30, 2008 at 9:37 AM

In the immortal words of Commander Peter Quincy Taggart:

Never give up. Never surrender!

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on May 30, 2008 at 9:41 AM

I have no doubt things have improved-but remember this is the CIA we’re talking about telling us this.

Del Dolemonte on May 30, 2008 at 9:42 AM

setup for the Dems to take credit for all this once Hussein is Prez.

redrock on May 30, 2008 at 9:48 AM

According to San Fran Nan, we should be thanking Iran.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on May 30, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Yalu River, Stalin’s H-bomb, Sputnik, Ho Chi Minh, 56-67-72 Arab/Israeli wars, Bay of Pigs, Munich, Noriega, Fall of Russia, Trade Center I, the Cole, and on and on and on and on until we end up with an NIE that says Iran just wants to light homes.

Scap this worthless agency and man it with spooks instead of ice dancing fans.

Limerick on May 30, 2008 at 9:54 AM

Well they can’t keep it a secret forever.

Tony737 on May 30, 2008 at 9:55 AM

Del Dolemonte on May 30, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Dose the enthusiastic exclamation…

SLAM DUNK…!

…come to mind?

J_Gocht on May 30, 2008 at 9:56 AM

While it’s true, as the liberal/left critics argue, that we can’t defeat AQ only through the force of arms, it is essential that victory over radical Islam (I’m tying together disparate groups) includes a discrediting of that ideology by repeated military failure and defeat.

Part of the appeal of Islamism is that they are the strong horse and the West is the weak horse. Islam is a superior worldview over the Crusaders.

By defeating them militarily on the battlefied, much of this appeal is also defeated.

More to be done, to be sure; but military defeats must be part of what we do.

SteveMG on May 30, 2008 at 10:01 AM

Well, let me see, 5/30/08… I would guess that by 7/30/08 I might see a part of some of this NEWS in my local LIB RAG… The only story today is about GI suicides being up… So maybe go to 9/30/08. Yeah, that should do it…

pueblo1032 on May 30, 2008 at 10:03 AM

According to San Fran Nan, we should be thanking Iran.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on May 30, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Trying to take ‘limerick’s job?

cntrlfrk on May 30, 2008 at 10:06 AM

According to Botox Momma Pelosi we can thank Monkey Boy and his ever so helpful Guard for the surge’s vistories. And I thank God we have a person from The democratic side of the Congress that can see soooooooooooo clearly. Oh and I just wished she would go away and stfu and let our troops do their work that they are doing so great.

rich801 on May 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM

The only story today is about GI suicides being up… So maybe go to 9/30/08. Yeah, that should do it…

pueblo1032 on May 30, 2008 at 10:03 AM

Ha, you beat me to it, you must read the Boston Globe too. The only other story in that rag is how Gov. Coupe DeVal wants to track down criminal immigrants…not too deport them, but to give them FREE tax-payer funded health care. Weeeeeee.

Alden Pyle on May 30, 2008 at 10:10 AM

It must be working, they had to close the AQ recruitment center in Berkley…and that was after Code Pink gave them their own parking spaces.

right2bright on May 30, 2008 at 10:10 AM

cntrlfrk on May 30, 2008 at 10:06 AM

The world would be a better place! :)

Limerick on May 30, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Oh…ooo, trust is such a fickle friend.

“once bitten, twice shy”

J_Gocht on May 30, 2008 at 10:20 AM

I salute our brave men in uniform.

Those who sacrificed all and those who continue the fight.

Well done lads.

fogw on May 30, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Brave men and women.

fogw on May 30, 2008 at 10:33 AM

setup for the Dems to take credit for all this once Hussein is Prez.

redrock on May 30, 2008 at 9:48 AM

Indeed it is. They’re taking quite a gamble here…if McCain wins they’ll be screwed, won’t they?

Bob's Kid on May 30, 2008 at 10:41 AM

This is going to ruin Nancy and Harry’s weekend!

Darksean on May 30, 2008 at 10:42 AM

AQ and its network had suffered defeats across the board and now faced significantly increased hostility from fellow Muslims. What happened?

Well, clearly, AQ and its network started reading the NY Times and the Washington Post, and they realized– hey, these guys are just so much more intelligent and enlightened than we are; how can we ever prevail? I guess they just became demoralized. Surely, it couldn’t have been Bush’s surge or anything.

morganfrost on May 30, 2008 at 10:43 AM


According to Botox Momma Pelosi we can thank Monkey Boy and his ever so helpful Guard for the surge’s vistories. And I thank God we have a person from The democratic side of the Congress that can see soooooooooooo clearly. Oh and I just wished she would go away and stfu and let our troops do their work that they are doing so great.

rich801 on May 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM

But I thought General Petraeus testified before Congress that the Iranians were responsible for many of the US combat casualties be aiding and or assembling the IED’s. Oh…that’s right, Petraeus is a liar and Dinner Jacket is just trying to be helpful. I got it now.

sdd on May 30, 2008 at 10:44 AM

I bet MSM just issued an important action alert: destroy all recordings of democrats, especially of Mrs. Clinton and Senator Obama, declaring the situation is hopeless in Iraq.

Or at least file them in the lockbox where they keep all images from 9-11-01 that are unflattering to radical Islam. Like the Palestinians dancing and waggling their tongues in delight.

MSM == anti-American agitprop.

jeff_from_mpls on May 30, 2008 at 10:44 AM

This announcement comes the same week the IAEA releases information that casts doubt on the most recent Iran NIE?

I’m buying my salt in 50-pound bags these days.

DrSteve on May 30, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Where’s our oil? Back the tankers up in the Gulf now!

Valiant on May 30, 2008 at 11:06 AM

Awesome news! Glad to see it in WaPo too. I’ll celebrate though once it’s confirmed that Osama has assumed room temperature…

JohnAGJ on May 30, 2008 at 11:06 AM

The CIA announcement is a coded message to Barry:

Dude, it’s safe to go back to Iraq now. If you are expecting to be the CIC, you might want to see firsthand what the fighting is all about.

Mallard T. Drake on May 30, 2008 at 11:15 AM

Keep crushing the terroristic theocratic tyrants wherever they show their murderous heads.

Al Qaeda is just one brigade of this malignant ideology.

Fight on!

profitsbeard on May 30, 2008 at 11:30 AM

It’s great to hear that our efforts are reducing Al Qaeda. But the cancer is only in remission. Until we actually do something about SA, it will never go away.

fossten on May 30, 2008 at 12:56 PM

Mallard T. Drake on May 30, 2008 at 11:15 AM

…During his last visit a reporter asked. “Senator McCain, I just read in the Internet that you said there are areas in Baghdad that you can walk around freely,”
“Yeah, I just came from one,” McCain replied.

But backing up that stroll through the market were ten armored Humvees, soldiers with rifles, and two Apache attack helicopters circling overhead…

“For the record, McCain and Obama need not go as far as Baghdad to get a Petraeus briefing.

The four-star general, almost entirely unrecognized in civvies, took in the Nats game today with a small group.

When you think about it; doesn’t a colorful Power Point presentation make a lot more sense?

No high cost of jet fuel, aircraft time and maintenance to visit Iraq.

No waste of valuable “surging” troopers, gunships and armored Humvees to guard the open aire market shoppers.

No waste of high ranking General’s time from “surging” war planning to brief junketeering Senators and Congress folks.

Methinks; E-touring via Power Point would be much preferable to the actual junket!

J_Gocht on May 30, 2008 at 3:18 PM

This can’t be. Nancy and Harry wouldn’t lie, would they?

oakpack on May 30, 2008 at 4:08 PM

“The centerpiece is [was] the al Shorja market. Two months ago it was devastated by a car bomb. Now the Army has banned vehicles and laid on extra security.”


That was April of 2007!

Recently during his last brief visit with Senator Lieberman, Saint Mc confused the difference between Sunni and Shiite and the fact that al Qaeda wasn’t training in Iran.

Then Senator Mc Cain wanted to go back to that same Shorja Market place and was informed; “it is no longer safe for an American in that open aire market.”

Oh Well? “come si sa, come è noto” or not… Senator Mc?

J_Gocht on May 30, 2008 at 5:13 PM

So the Washington Post is saying Mission Accomplished in Iraq and Bush is to blame?

Tantor on May 30, 2008 at 11:39 PM

J_Gocht is in a different Iraq than I am, I guess…

AQI is being reduced to an urban terror outfit, ala the Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhof Gang, etc. They will still be able to kill people for a while longer, but if we keep it up (we being the IA, INP, IP and Coalition) the “Caliphate” is gone for good. They are not the revolutionary swimming in a peasant sea… they are landed and thrashing. We have to choose between throwing them back into the water or dumping them in the bucket to filet later.

major john on May 31, 2008 at 6:54 AM

I’m buying my salt in 50-pound bags these days.

DrSteve on May 30, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Here ya go.For future reference.

soundingboard on May 31, 2008 at 7:19 AM

major john on May 31, 2008 at 6:54 AM

Right on Sir!

As soon as we leave them to their own instinctive militant intents; the Shiites, Kurds and even the Sunnis will deal AQI the devil’s hand! The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Letting the devil sort’em out is my plan!

J_Gocht on May 31, 2008 at 9:48 AM