Global majority deem “war on terror” a failure

A BBC survey shows that citizens in 22 out of 23 countries polled see futility in the American-led “war on terrorism”. Osama bin Laden’s poetry surfaces in academic journal. Somali pirates discover 33 Russian-made tanks on captured vessel. And much more in today’s briefing.

A poll for the BBC World Service has revealed that people worldwide think the “war on terrorism” has not weakened al-Qaida. The survey of almost 24,000 citizens found people in 22 out of 23 countries thought attempts to counter al-Qaida had failed to weaken the extremist militant network since the 9/11 attacks.

The toD verdict: Seven years into the war on terror, the poll is a damning indictment of the Bush administration’s foreign policy. Most damagingly, the poll reveals that in Egypt and Pakistan, two pivotal states in the confrontation with Islamist radicals, a majority have mixed or even positive views of al-Qaida. Cleary, US strategy has failed to win hearts and minds, strengthening doubts in the tactical merits of the “war on terrorism”. Keep up to date with the latest developments and sharpest perspectives in a world of strife and struggle.

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The poll also shows that despite the unrivalled might of US military power, many believe that al-Qaida remains undiminished. The report follows a recent Rand Corporation study of over 600 former terrorist groups. It concluded that only 7 percent were destroyed by military force. According to figures from the State Department and the National Counterterrorism Center, the war on terror has been counterproductive. Terrorist activity has increased exponentially in the last seven years, from 531 total terrorist attacks resulting in 3,295 deaths in 2001, to 14,499 incidents and 22,666 deaths in 2007.

A change in strategy is long overdue. Fifty-nine percent of those polled in the United States itself believe that the conduct of US counter-terrorism has had little effect or has even made the militants stronger. Can the change in administration in January 2009 usher in a new and more pragmatic era in the “war on terrorism”?

Bin Laden poetry to be published

Transcripts of Osama Bin Laden reciting poetry at jihadist recruitment events, as well as within more personal contexts, are to be published next month in the academic journal Language and Communication. Discovered at an al-Qaida compound in Kandahar in 2001, the iconic terrorist leader’s vast repertoire (consisting of nearly 1,500 audio cassette tapes) is being translated by Professor Flagg Miller who teaches Arabic poetry at the University of California at Davis. The poetry may provide an insight into the psyche of the al-Qaida leader. Some academics, however, deem the tapes too obscene for broadcast.

Three dead in Algeria attack

A suicide attack has killed three people and injured another six near the Algerian capital of Algiers on Sunday. The state news agency reported that a suicide car bomber hit a checkpoint in Dellys at the end of iftar, the meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan. Though there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Algeria has recently suffered persistent suicide attacks by rebels who had adopted the al-Qaida “franchise”, dubbing themselves “al-Qaida in the Maghreb”. A series of deadly attacks preceded the month-long fast, culminating in a massive bomb blast that killed 48 people on 19 August near Algiers. Despite Sunday’s incident, this has been the least bloody Ramadan in Algeria since Islamist violence erupted in the country in 1992.

Two separate bomb attacks in India’s west

Two separate bomb attacks in Muslim dominated neighbourhoods of western India have killed at least seven people late on Monday. Police report that five people died and over 100 injured in a blast near a mosque in Malegaon, Maharashtra’s state. Two more were killed and 16 injured in an explosion in the Sabarkantha district in the neighbouring state of Gujarat. Nobody has taken responsibility for the explosions, though Hindu-Muslim tensions run high in both states.

The attacks occurred one day after seventeen bombs were discovered in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. India has been hit by a number of explosions in recent weeks. Just two days ago a similar incident occurred in Delhi when a bomb exploded in a market, killing one person and injuring at least 15 others. Cities in India are on high alert and the government has said it is concerned with preventing religious violence from flaring up.
Situation tense as shooting breaks out on hijacked cargo ship
Shooting broke out between Somali pirates on a hijacked cargo ship on Tuesday. Reports suggest three have died. Pirates seized the Ukrainian ship Faine, loaded with 33 Russian designed T-72 tanks bound for Kenya, last week and have demanded a $20m (£11m) ransom to release it. Pirates from two different clans, one moderate and one radical, seem to have disagreed over tactics. It is suggested that the radicals advocated taking hold of the shipment of T-72 tanks and other weapons. The tense situation has been further complicated by the presence of US navy vessels which were deployed within 10 miles of the ship’s hijacking. The waters off Somalia’s coast are considered some of the world’s most dangerous thanks in large part to the lack of a functioning central government in Somalia during the past seventeen years.

Ref: Open democracy

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