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THE LIQUID BOMBS PLOT: Al-Qaeda corrupts a generation.

Byline: By SIMON REEVE

FURTHER revelations emerged yesterday about the terror plot to detonate bombs on passenger flights between Britain and the US.

But was the attack directly organised by al-Qaeda? The fact it was directed at multiple targets is consistent with previous major al-Qaeda attacks.

Money for this latest plot seems to have come from Pakistan. Some of the arrested British youngsters may have been trained there. Many al-Qaeda members have found refuge in Pakistan since the US destroyed their bases in Afghanistan. But none of this confirms al-Qaeda was pulling the strings.

Since 9/11, hundreds of al-Qaeda militants have been captured or killed and numerous bombing plots have been uncovered and prevented.

Although al-Qaeda, or its supporters, has killed hundreds in attacks in Bali, Madrid, Istanbul and London, the group has failed to launch another attack on the same scale as 9/11. It has also failed to launch any further attacks on the US mainland.

Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are on the run and thought to be hiding separately in Pakistan. But their group still has plenty of recruits as tens of thousands of men received training in Afghan camps before 9/11.

Al-Qaeda is playing a long game. For more than 10 years, bin Laden has been trying to radicalise the Islamic world and turn it against the West. With the misguided "war on terror", the US has played right into his hands, enraging Muslims.

Militants are still rallying to bin Laden. Last week Egyptian militant group Al-Jamaa Islamiya, responsible for killing 71 tourists at Luxor in 1997, appears to have joined forces with al-Qaeda.

So al-Qaeda is far from a spent force.

The group now needs to be thought of as more of a state of mind than a traditional terrorist organisation.

Osama bin Laden inspires attacks, he does not need to directly control them. Militants do not need his authorisation to detonate bombs on planes.

Western foreign policies - particularly support for Israel - are helping to create thousands more young Islamic militants.

Some of these militants have forged tentative alliances with al-Qaeda, others are plotting attacks on their own. We can all breathe a sigh of relief when they fail but eventually some will succeed.

Simon Reeve is the author of The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden And The Future Of Terrorism (Carlton Books, pounds 7.99)
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2006
Words:399
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