While only one of the thousands of the acts of terrorism in 2011 was linked to Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri's original al-Qaeda terrorist group, more than half of the top 20 terrorist and militant organizations in 2011 are linked to al-Qaeda, according to new data published on Wednesday in the Homeland Security Newswire (HSN).
But, according to an Examiner news story, the leader of al-Qaeda Central is still calling the shots. For example Osama bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, in a statement, urged Somalia's Al Shabaab terrorists to fight back against what he called "crusader invaders," the Kenyan and Nigerian military forces assisting the Somali security forces.
The HSN report is based on an academic study conducted by the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) Global Terrorism Database (GTD).
Touted by HSN as being the most comprehensive, unclassified database of terrorist incidents, the GTD contains data on well over 100,000 terrorist attacks within the United State and globally between 1970 and 2011.
According to the GTD data those attacks left more than 225,000 people dead and close to 300,000 others wounded. The study defines terrorism as the "threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious or social goal through fear, coercion or intimidation."
According to START's database, the five most active perpetrators of terrorist attacks in 2011 were: (1)Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-M); (2) the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan; (3) Al Shabaab of Somalia; (4) Boko Haram of Nigeria; and (5) Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is classified by many law enforcement agencies as narco-terrorists.
"While only one of the attacks in 2011 was attributed to al-Qaeda Central – the August kidnapping of Maryland native Warren Weinstein in Pakistan – 11 of the top 20 most active groups are linked to al-Qaeda. Those groups alone carried out more than 780 attacks that resulted in more than 3,000 deaths and wounded more than 4,600." states the START analysts.
According to an Examiner story last December, al-Zawahri was particularly influenced by the radical Islam of Sayyid Qutb, according to which the Arab-Muslim regimes ("the internal enemy ") were no less dangerous than external enemies. His ideology justified using violence and terrorism against them, since, it claimed, they had deviated from the precepts of Islam and did not govern according to religious Muslim law (the Shari'a). He was also influenced by Dr. Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian from northern Samaria, who became Osama bin Laden's ideological mentor. Azzam developed and institutionalized the concept of jihad as the "personal duty" of every Muslim.
The START study reveals that al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations were responsible in 2011 for four of the five most lethal terrorist attacks:
- al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – Yemen: March 28 – 110 killed, 45 injured
- Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – Pakistan: May 13 – 80 killed, 140 injured
- Al Shabaab – Somalia: Oct. 4 – 70 killed, 42 injured
- al-Qaeda in Iraq – Iraq: March 29 – 65 killed, 95 injured
“Total attacks in the GTD in 2011 continued an upward trajectory that began a decade ago, paced by the ongoing historic shift in attacks away from al-Qaeda Central and toward its growing number of affiliates,” HSN quotes Gary LaFree, START director and professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland, as saying.
Of course, this 2011 data doesn't include terrorist groups and attacks occurring in the Syrian civil war, the Libyan conflict and the continuing unrest in Egypt. In addition, while FARC is a narco-terrorist group, the Mexican drug cartels, who share FARC's attributes and tactics, are not included in the START database.