“If Al-Qaeda has not been able to attack Spain over the last 4 years, it will be even less able to do so after Bin Laden’s death”, states an expert in Islamic terrorism

Jean-Pierre Filiu, expert in Islamic terrorism expert, tells ACN that the death of the Al-Qaeda leader should weaken the organisation and provoke a short circuit between their three main connected branches: the Maghreb, Iraq and Yemen.

CNA / Maria Fernández Noguera / Sílvia Giménez

July 1, 2011 12:34 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- In his book “The Nine Lives of Al-Qaeda”, the Arabist and political analyst Jean-Pierre Filiu analyses the ups and downs of the terrorist organisation since 1988. Now that its leader, Ossama Bin Laden, is dead, Filiu predicts: “Al-Qaeda will continue its activities, but its three branches, based in Iraq, Yemen and the Maghreb, will be disconnected” will act “as local organisations”, because it was Bin Laden “who brought a logic into the transnational dynamics of the organisation”. In conversation with ACN, Filiu encouraged the public not to exaggerate the terrorist alarm. The Maghreb branch of Al-Qaida, for example, was born in 2007 with the aim of attacking Spain, Italy and France, but after four years, “it has not been able to do so”, so “it will be even less able to do it after Bin Laden’s death".

The expert in Islamic terrorism and Muslim societies Jean-Pierre Filiu saw first hand the creation of Al-Qaeda (“The Base”, in Arab) during the 1980s in Afghanistan. After dedicating his whole life to the study of Islamic terrorism, he has published “The Nine Lives of Al-Qaeda” -referring to the nine lives that in France a cat is said to have. The book reviews the organisation’s history until 2009, when the terrorists operated in different places but without coordination.

This lack of communication will increase with the death of Bin laden, because “not only has the leader or the icon of the movement disappeared but also the person that brought logic into the transnational dynamics of the organisation”, assures the expert.

As a result, Al-Qaeda will not disappear, but will weaken and its three branches will split up between them. The cells headquarters in Maghreb, Yemen and Iraq will continue acting as much as they can, but as “more local, criminal organisations refuted by the minority that continued to give their support to them”.

“We finally have the possibility and the privilege to get rid of Al-Qaeda. This means getting rid of the mirage from our minds as well. The terrorist threat exists, but every time that we exaggerate it we play their game, because it makes them stronger than what they really are”, says Filiu.

The non-publication of terrorist photographs, a “legitimate” decision

Filiu, a lecturer at Columbia University from New York, describes as “legitimate” the decision taken by United States President, Barack Obama, not to publish the images of Bin Laden’s dead body. The academic highly values the fact that the US administration took into account the negative effects of showing such images. For Filiu, Obama is “an extraordinary leader and an intellectual that thinks way beyond the short term”.