In the days that followed the events of 9/11 emotions were raw and Americans wanted the blood of those who were responsible. It was not simply enough to make winning the war against terrorism our goal. Americans wanted to see al-Qaeda obliterated after they crashed two airplanes into the World Trade Center and another airplane into the Pentagon. Then President Bush had the full support of American citizens from one coast to the other and everywhere in between when he vowed to “starve terrorist of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.” It has been seventeen years since the events that turned the world upside down for America took place. Seventeen years since Americans really knew how it feels to demand the blood of those who would see our way of life come to an end. Seventeen years later al-Qaeda is still here, and to make matters worse not only are they still here but it is believed that they may be stronger now than they were seventeen years ago when two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and another airplane crashed into the Pentagon. If critics are right instead of vanquishing this monster that we call al-Qaeda it is very possible that our policies in the Middle East are what has contributed to it growing stronger.
According to Rita Katz director of the SITE Intelligence Group there is something very important about al-Qaeda that Americans did not take into consideration. That is the fact that al-Qaeda isn’t just a terrorist group filled with people who work together. It’s stronger than that, much stronger. Rita Katz contends that al-Qaeda is an idea. History has shown us that no matter what the weapon is that was used at the time, when strong enough it takes more than a weapon to destroy an idea. We can bomb all the compound training camps that we want, we can kill all the leaders of al-Qaeda that we want, it won’t do any good. As long as the idea that drives these people to do what they do is out there then there will always be al-Qaeda.
In Yemen and Syria by themselves recent intelligence estimates show that there are more than 20,000 Islamic militants. On top of the Muslim terrorist that al-Qaeda has in Yemen and Syria there are affiliates in North Africa and parts of Asia. Seventeen years later as America continues to fight the longest war that it has ever fought in the history of its existence al-Qaeda still has a strong presence that is felt around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The only thing that has really changed over the years is the tactics that al-Qaeda uses to build up its numbers. Instead of crashing two airplanes into the World Trade Center and another airplane into the Pentagon to inspire others to join and support their cause al-Qaeda has taken a softer approach as it gains the support of Muslims who are caught in the middle of war torn countries.