Al-Qaeda: a Lesson in Irony
Much of the past decade of the american foreign policy debate has been dominated by the discussion over the merits of counterterrorism. Prior to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, counterterrorism was a theoretical measure at most (Cronin). After America threw its weight behind the ‘war against terror,’ however, the coordinated international campaign quickly overwhelmed multiple militant extremist groups. The main target of the ‘war against terror’ was al-Qaeda, an organization that subscribed to the ideas of Islamic thinker Sayyid Qutb and claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks in 2004. The attacks were a double-edged sword for al-Qaeda because the ensuing media storm increased their influence like no other while also drawing a target a mile wide on their back. The ‘war against terror culminated in bin Laden 's assassination in May of 2011 by Navy SEALs (Katulis and Juul). Al-Qaeda has since experienced a steady and significant decline of power and influence after bin Laden’s demise. No matter its past status as the dominant extremist group in the Middle East, al-Qaeda has crumbled after American intervention in killing various key figures.
The irony of American involvement in the Middle East in the name of counterterrorism was not lost on many. Al-Qaeda was founded in the wake of Afghanistan’s 1978 Saur Revolution (Quiggin), in which King Zahir Shah was deposed by his cousin and prime minister Daoud Khan. The Soviet