Eight years after 9/11, bin Laden's popular support declining
Eight years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, Osama bin Laden has declining popularity among Muslims worldwide and the tactic of suicide bombings faces growing resistances as well, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project.
Bin Laden's approval rating, if you want to call it that, sunk from 59% to 25% in Indonesia between 2003 and 2009, according to the Center's polling data. OBL saw similar drops in Pakistan (46% to 18%) and Jordan (56% to 28%). Large majorities in major Muslim countries such as Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan agree with the statement that suicide bombing and violence against civilians can never be justified.
The statistics jibe with growing anecdotal evidence we hear, both in the Islamic world and in Washington conference rooms, about the slipping support for al Qaida among broad swaths of Muslim populations -- the political center, as it were -- if not among radicalized groups themselves.
"The ideology driving al-Qaida is showing signs of wear and its popularity appears to be waning and more Muslim voices publicly challenge its tenets," the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, said in a speech today at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Still, he cautioned "we still face determined (terrorist) adversaries who seek to adapt in ways that present fresh challenges."
Even as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq rage on, it's nice to have a bit of good news as we prepare to honor the victims of 9/11 and their families.