At a loss for words

In the wake of peaceful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, al Qaeda’s argument that violent activism is necessary to achieve political change stands dramatically repudiated. It was peaceful protesters, not armed struggle, that ousted Hosni Mubarak and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. But that doesn’t mean the militant group won’t try to capitalize on instability in ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

In the wake of peaceful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, al Qaeda's argument that violent activism is necessary to achieve political change stands dramatically repudiated. It was peaceful protesters, not armed struggle, that ousted Hosni Mubarak and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. But that doesn't mean the militant group won't try to capitalize on instability in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. In fact, jihadi communications since the crisis in Tunisia began in early January suggest that extremists hope to take advantage of the current instability.

The most discussed aspect of al Qaeda's role in the Egyptian uprising has been a nonevent: the fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's Egyptian second in command, has not yet released a statement about ongoing events. Al Qaeda franchises, moreover, did not release statements about either the Tunisian or Egyptian uprisings until weeks after the respective rebellions began.

Read more.

In the wake of peaceful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, al Qaeda’s argument that violent activism is necessary to achieve political change stands dramatically repudiated. It was peaceful protesters, not armed struggle, that ousted Hosni Mubarak and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. But that doesn’t mean the militant group won’t try to capitalize on instability in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. In fact, jihadi communications since the crisis in Tunisia began in early January suggest that extremists hope to take advantage of the current instability.

The most discussed aspect of al Qaeda’s role in the Egyptian uprising has been a nonevent: the fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s Egyptian second in command, has not yet released a statement about ongoing events. Al Qaeda franchises, moreover, did not release statements about either the Tunisian or Egyptian uprisings until weeks after the respective rebellions began.

Read more.

Brian Fishman is a counterterrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation.

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