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May 30, 2008

Winning the War.

The Washington Post has published an article, “U.S. Cites Big Gains Against Al-Qaeda,” which is reasonably optimistic.

Less than a year after his agency warned of new threats from a resurgent Al-Qaeda, CIA chief Michael Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In a strikingly upbeat assessment, the CIA cheif cited major gains against al-Qaeda's allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group's core leadership.

While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, Hayden said Osama Bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.

"On balance, we are doing pretty well," he said, ticking down a list of accomplishments: "Near strategic defeat of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam," he said.

"One of the lessons we can draw from the past two years is that al-Qaeda is its own worst enemy," said Robert Grenier, a former top CIA counterterrorism official who is now managing director of Kroll, a risk consulting firm. "Where they have succeeded initially, they very quickly discredit themselves."
This result is great although there are still enough of them and those are sufficiently organized to carry out major operations, however with the whole group on the back foot it would be very difficult to maintain security for a large operation.

Populations soon get fed up with living in fear, especially when those they fear are nutters and psychopaths who kill on whim anyone they perceive as not one of their own. When such matters reach a certain point even the meek get angry enough to take up arms and fight.

The Surge has, I believe set Al-Qaeda and the other foreign fighters back and given the Iraqis some breathing space in which to organize them selves to take these bastards on. As the Iraqi population come on side fighting this war can be won.

Quite a few sects and faiths keep their followers in a time warp set at some ‘better’ time in the past. The Amish are one of the best-known examples of this phenomenon since being discovered by Hollywood, a mixed blessing. While membership is voluntary they tend not to get too extreme, if they did they would lose members.

The problem with Islam is that it tends to be voluntary in name only in many places and virtually compulsory in others, while condemning its membership to a medieval mindset, which can only change by ignoring some tenets of the faith itself. By adding a militaristic element to this you have a dangerous potential in extreme hands.

Far too much power is placed in the hands of intolerant clerics which leads to incidents like the following as reported in the Courier Mail in an article “Blind student killed by religious teacher.” : -
A BLIND seven-year-old student at an Islamic school in eastern Pakistan has died after his teacher punished him for not learning the Koran, police said today. Muhammad Atif was hung upside down from a ceiling fan and severely beaten by his teacher, Qari Ziauddin, at the seminary or madrassa in Vihari, near Lahore on Thursday, they said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had ordered in inquiry into the death, an official statement said.

"The Prime Minister has expressed his deep sorrow and concern over the tragic death of Muhammad Atif, who reportedly died as a result of corporal punishment by his teacher,'' the statement said.

Police said the teacher had been arrested on charges of torturing and murdering the boy.

"Qari Ziauddin, who teaches Koran to boys in Qari Latif Islamic school, hanged Atif upside down with a ceiling fan in the school after beating him with sticks, which caused his death,'' local police official Akram Niazi said.

The teacher also failed to take the boy to hospital after he fell ill and his condition deteriorated, he said.

Police said a postmortem examination report also confirmed physical torture as the cause of death.

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