Al-Qaeda: The master of the backfire

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 20, 2015 18:24 hrs

While Al-Qaeda has been notorious for its many terror “successes”, it is by and large a terrorist group which has seen its plans backfire and thereby going into terminal decline.

While 9/11 was seen as spectacular at its time, in the long run it is the Muslim nations which suffered the most. Far from bringing America to its knees, it has been other countries which have gone to becoming basket cases.

The first case is Pakistan. Till 1991, Pakistan showed some parity with India and till 2001 it was not a totally gone case. However one effect of 9/11 was that America put a gun to Pakistan’s head and forced it to become a base for its anti-terror operations.



Since 9/11, more than 50,000 Pakistani citizens have been killed in terrorist attacks. To make matters worse, terror groups have taken over large areas of Pakistan and the police and Army are totally unable to control them.

You could say that the Army, civilian government and terror groups are jointly ruling Pakistan. This deadly cocktail has resulted in Pakistan becoming a totally failed State with its economy, internal security and pride going firmly downhill.

The other country that suffered the brunt is Afghanistan. While in the past this proud country kept out both the British and Russians, you could say that it is a stalemate with the Americans.

However, while the American troops will finally go home, Afghanistan will continue to be grossly underdeveloped.

Af-Pak currently has no future.


The other country gone totally downhill is Iraq. The 2003 American invasion of Iraq has totally devastated it. Today it has in effect been divided into three zones.

The Kurds are governing their territories. The Sunni part has been taken over by the Islamic State and what is left is being run by the Shia Iraqi government. It is possible that what is Iraq today may be three countries tomorrow led by Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions.

In fact Osama bin Laden hiding doesn’t seem to have solved anything. Had he been out in the open, he could have been inspired many. But he will be forever be known by his last image of hiding in a Pakistani home watching porn and being picked up by American forces and dumped into the sea.

Now the Al-Qaeda is at it again. It has claimed responsibility on the ghastly attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. It’s another huge backfire. The original cartoons of the Prophet were published in the magazine which had a print run of 30,000.

Thanks to the attack, the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo with more cartoons of the Prophet saw a whopping print run of 5 million a new record.

Islamic State-Israel backfire: The Islamic State wants Israel wiped off the map. However, they have expressed their desire to wipe out the Saudi leadership and Iran too. Egypt is wary of the Muslim Brotherhood which has close links to Hamas and Hezbollah.

What this means that suddenly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran are suddenly wary of these groups and are OK with a strong Israel to counter them. Rumours are abuzz in West Asia to this effect and that is why you would have seen a highly muted condemnation of the plight of those in Gaza during the last conflict.

Israel-Arab States “backdoor diplomacy” is working at a furious rate now.

Malala backfire: The more the Taliban attacked Malala Yousafzai, the more powerful she has become. First she was a local celebrity and then she became world famous. When they tried to assassinate her, she ended up winning the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Protests backfire: When you protest things like books, magazines, films and cartoons, it always comes back to bite you back in the long run.Protests against Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses led to the author becoming an international celebrity and freedom symbol and an increase in book sales.

Innocence of Muslims was an obscure third-rate film which no-one bothered about. But after people started protesting, suddenly everyone wanted to know about it. Initially its YouTube views were in the hundreds. After the protest just one of its many clips got in excess of 10 million views.

The same thing happened with the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. Initially no-one bothered, but as Muslim clerics tried to whip up passions, everyone saw the cartoons.

Charlie Hebdo reproduced them and their offices were firebombed. After that Charlie Hebdo was attacked again and now we have European demonstrations and global articles against Islam.

One must say that Islamophobia is fuelled largely by Islamic hardliners themselves!

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.