Richard Barrett, a top U.N. official monitoring al-Qaida and the Taliban, released a report from his personal perspective Thursday evaluating the state of al-Qaida and its terrorist alliance with the Taliban. Barrett says despite the inability of the United States and its allies to capture al-Qaida's top leadership, the terrorist organization's strength has not regained the strong posture it maintained in 2001.
Barrett released his report, titled "Seven Years After 9/11: Al-Qaida's Strengths and Vulnerabilities," sponsored by the non-profit International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence. Barrett says al-Qaida is failing to reach its sympathizers around the world, and its once active cells in Iraq, Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are losing influence in the wake of a growing backlash against the violent killing of civilians.
The report says al-Qaida's leadership remains intact and its alliance with the Taliban, although tenuous, continues. Despite this, Barrett says, as the terrorist network strengthens its position further into Pakistan, the United States and its allies will have to deploy both military and political tactics to counter the threat.
"What the international community can do is to support local governments discreetly, and reduce al-Qaida's appeal by saying or doing anything that appears to support its claims or legitimacy," Barrett writes in the report.
"The key is to keep al-Qaida's leaders pinned down in the remote areas of the Afghan-Pakistan border and prevent them by all means from connecting in person with their supporters and sympathizers elsewhere."