7. In the past few years, many people have begun to perceive bin Laden as an uncaring terrorist who has no hesitation about spilling the blood even of fellow Muslims. Does he still enjoy important support among Muslims?
And there is good reason for this perception. In December 2009, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point released a report finding that only about 12% of al Qaeda’s victims are Western. Those who had to live under the brutal rule of al Qaeda affiliates, particularly in Iraq, have spoken out about this experience. The fact that al Qaeda has an image problem in the Muslim world is undeniable; but I would also warn against making the mistake of many commentators, and prematurely declaring the group to be only marginal.