Two decades after its founding, al-Qaeda's golden years are over, argues Peter Bergen in the Washington Post. Osama bin Laden's plan has largely backfired: 9/11 neither resulted in US withdrawal from the Middle East, or in the defeat of "impious" Middle Eastern regimes. But while al-Qaeda discredited itself in Iraq and jihadists are less centralized than in 2001, the organization still poses a threat to the West.
Most alarming is al-Qaeda Central's hold on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and the number of Muslim foreigners who have been traveling there. And while European Islamists are seldom linked to al-Qaeda, disenfranchised immigrants remain fertile ground for new recruits. Plus, bin Laden is still on the loose, effectively raising calls to arms in the media. The "legacy will endure, even after al-Qaeda is defeated," writes Bergen.