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The continuing evolution of al-Qaeda 3.0

A revived al-Qaeda is effectively filling vacuums created by autocrats and failed reformist governments, who are planting the seeds for the next generation of recruits.
Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey January 2, 2014. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTX170UI

Al-Qaeda the organization(s) and al-Qaedism the idea are thriving across the Arab world like never before due to the failure of the Arab Awakening to create competent reformist governments. The counterrevolution keeping old autocrats in power or putting new ones into power is already creating the next generation of al-Qaeda converts.

Less than three years ago, al-Qaeda, the organization and its ideology, was on its back foot. Osama bin Laden, its charismatic founder and leader, was killed in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad. Many of his key lieutenants, including the Pakistani Ilyas Kashmiri and the Yemeni-American Anwar al-Awlaki, were hunted down and killed by drones. The al-Qaeda narrative that only violent jihad and terror can bring change to the Muslim world came under attack as dictators were toppled from Tunis to Cairo to Sanaa by mostly peaceful protest. The Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda’s old adversary, seemed poised to dominate Arab politics and demonstrate that real change was possible without terror.

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