View Full Version : Qaeda Leaders Losing Sway Over Militants, Study Finds

11-15-2006, 08:58 AM
15 November New York Times - Qaeda Leaders Losing Sway Over Militants, Study Finds (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/washington/15terror.html?ref=world) by Mark Mazzeti.

As radical Islam spreads globally through online forums and chat rooms, a group of obscure Arab religious thinkers may come to exert more influence over the jihadist movement than Osama bin Laden and other well-known leaders of Al Qaeda, a research group at the United States Military Academy has concluded.

In a study billed as the “first systematic mapping” of an ideology sometimes called jihadism, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (http://www.ctc.usma.edu/) has found that Mr. bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, have had a relatively minor influence on the movement’s intellectual foundation. Among the network’s ideologists, they have come to be seen more as propagandists than strategic thinkers.

And while the two Qaeda leaders have released a flurry of video and audio messages to their followers over the past year, the study found that the scholarly work of a group of Saudi and Jordanian clerics — most notably Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian — seems more likely to influence the next generation of Islamic militants.

As a result, the authors found, the death or capture of Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri would do little to slow the spread of jihadist ideology...

The 382-page report, a kind of who’s who of the global jihadist movement, examines the most influential and widely read texts among the thousands of tracts in Al Qaeda’s online library, known as the Tawhed...