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Finding and killing Osama bin Laden might have been the easy part. Islamic terrorism was weakened, but not wiped out, by the death of its leader. Dr. Paul Jabber served as the scholar-in-residence at the CIA Counterterrorism Center. He updated us on progress on the war on terror since bin Laden's death in 2011.
Did Killing Bin Laden Deal A Fatal Blow To Al Qaeda?
“Bin Laden’s death was a very significant blow to the organization. He was not only the founder of it, he was a very charismatic leader of it and a major source of funding early in the organization through his own funds. Later, both his name and prestige brought a lot of money into the organization ... his death was certainly very significant to the organization of Al Qaeda, but not to the ideology of Al Qaeda. And that’s a very important distinction to make.”
Drones And The War On Terror
“(Drones have) been quite effective ... not only n Pakistan where it really has curtailed the movement of the senior leadership for years now, but also in very important areas where Al Qaeda has been very active like Yemen for instance and some other parts of the world. So the drone program has been effective as a tool to reach individuals and networks that are in foreign countries, and not easily accessible otherwise.”
Al Qaeda’s Members Are Ideologists, Not Psychopaths
“It’s very important to understand that the leadership and the membership of Al Qaeda are motivated by a set of ideas that will lead them to give up their lives for the sake of achieving their purposes ... we have had surveys done of Al Qaeda members who have been captured and we have had quite a bit of study done on their psychology, their backgrounds, their education, etc., and we learned that the vast majority are not psychopathic killers. They are motivated by ideology. The ideology remains quite strong, in fact in some respects it is spreading and is given more adherence today than it was 10 years ago.”
Is The U.S. Safer Since Bin Laden’s Death?
“I believe that the threat of terrorism may be higher now than it was before bin Laden’s death. Why? The reason for that is, interestingly, while bin Laden was the architect and the man responsible for the attacks of 9/11 and the attacks on our embassies before in east Africa before then, which were the most significant attacks, at the same time he tried to keep very tight control over the strategy and tactics of Al Qaeda. And his vision, his strategic vision was of dealing crippling blows to the West, and particularly the United States ... so while he was alive it’s very interesting to note that Al Qaeda did not carry out any attacks in the U.S. at a lower level. It would have been easy for Al Qaeda to do so if bin Laden had wanted to it would have been easy. It was because bin Laden did not want smaller attacks to increase our level of security and possibly thwart what he was planning, which was another 9/11 of even bigger magnitude.”