Bin Laden’s Lonely Crusade | Politics | Vanity Fair

Bin Laden’s Lonely Crusade | Politics | Vanity Fair.

Is al-Qaeda simply going to wither away? Yes, with a little help, though not in the short term. History shows that small, violent groups can sustain their bloody work for years on end with virtually no public support. However, embedded in the DNA of groups such as al-Qaeda are the seeds of their own destruction. 

To begin with, al-Qaeda and allied groups have launched terrorist campaigns from Iraq to Indonesia that have killed thousands of Muslim civilians. For groups that claim to be defending Muslims, this is not an impressive achievement. It is a particular problem for al-Qaeda, with its claim to the Islamist high ground, because the Koran specifically forbids the killing of civilians and the killing of Muslims. In Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda lost a great deal of support after a campaign of attacks in 2003 that killed mostly Saudis. Saudi society, which had once been a cheerleader for bin Laden, turned against him. By 2007, only 10 percent of Saudis had a favorable view of al-Qaeda. In Pakistan, where bin Laden is presumably hiding out, his popularity is down to 18 percent, compared with 52 percent five years ago. Key Muslim clerics have formally withdrawn their endorsements.