The Washington Institute has an article entitled “The Economic Crisis: Al-Qaeda’s Response” which in my opinion, tries to look at the situation as optimistic as possible. They basically conclude that since the US is going through an Economic turmoil, so too is al-Qaa’idah. Their evidence? Two video statements from As-Sahab Media. The first from Shaykh Mustapha Abu al-Yazeed and the second from Shaykh Abu Yahya al-Libi. In both videos, they mention that Jihad of the wealth plays an important role in the battle today. Now, I will not entirely disqualify the fact that al-Qaa’idah could be facing possible economic problems due to the current Economic climate, but to suggest that al-Qaa’idah is in dire need of finances due to the world economy is very strange. I say that for the following reasons:
- Al-Qaa’idah is not a Government; it is a mobile fighting group. So the world economy cannot possibly have a hard hit on al-Qaa’idah’s Economic infrastructure as much as it would with the Western Governments.
- Al-Qaa’idah gets its wealth from the pockets of al-Qaa’idah fighters and leaders (such as Shaykh Usamah), Ghaneema (in Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan and Iraq), and donations from all types of Muslims ranging from the laymen to the wealthy and well-off businessmen.
- It is possible that al-Qaa’idah also gets its financial support from groups that it has connections with. So in the example of Somalia, al-Shabab could be helping al-Qaa’idah financially, and out of mutual respect and brotherhood, al-Qaa’idah gives them the training, skills etc. Similarly, al-Qaa’idah works together with Taliban and I’m sure there’s a lot of wealth flowing between the two.
- In my opinion, I think the reason for why Shaykh’s Abu Yahya and Mustapha have asked for wealth in their video releases could be due to their future operations which will need that kind of money for large scale attacks, and money to support the constant growing Jihad. Or simply it could be for a major investment for a weaponry program.
It’s out of line to suggest al-Qaa’idah will be damaged by the world’s economic situation since their movement is dynamic as opposed to the governments which are static. In addition, their movement is no longer limited to an infrastructure in the mountains of Tora Bora. Rather, they have reached a large population of the Muslim masses through their media jihad. So if al-Qaa’idah as a group dies, the ideology continues. Thus, it seems to me that the Washington Institute is trying to say, “If we go down, we’ll take you down with us.” Wishful thinking at its best.