Stop Worrying About al-Qaeda

We're relatively safe—so now what?
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2010 4:18 PM CDT
A New York City Honor Guard carries a flag found at ground zero during a memorial service commemorating the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 in New York.   (AP Photo/Peter Foley, Pool)

(Newser) – “We’re safer than we think,” declares Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek, “but no one wants to admit it.” It should go without saying that we’re safer than we were nine years ago today. Al-Qaeda used to operate so successfully “because most governments treated the group as an annoyance rather than a major national-security challenge”—not so anymore. We’ve instituted effective security measures at home; in Afghanistan, we’ve “fractured” al-Qaeda through regime-toppling, camp-destroying, and money-blocking.

“Osama bin Laden and his gang” have thus “been whittled down to about 400 fighters,” and are no longer capable of large-scale attacks. And while we feared al-Qaeda might inspire “unstoppable waves of jihadis,” in truth, “militant Islam’s appeal has plunged.” So, we are relatively safe. “The legitimate question to ask now is, have we gone too far? Is the vast expansion in governmental powers and bureaucracies—layered on top of the already enormous military-industrial complex of the Cold War—warranted?” (Click here for Zakaria's thoughts on our "overreaction" to 9/11.)

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