Let’s not overestimate Al-Qaeda’s might


Bruce Riedel
The Daily Star
September 26, 2011

The 9/11 attacks, what Al-Qaeda calls the Manhattan raid, changed the course of global history in a morning. The decade that followed would see America engage in two costly wars, change its national security structures profoundly, and pursue Al-Qaeda around the world. The decade ahead also promises to be dangerous. Although wounded by the killing of founder Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda is still an active global terror group with an ideology that has attracted a small but committed band of murderers. It aspires to change global history again by provoking more conflict to set the stage for its new caliphate. The strategy is insane, but Al-Qaeda is determined to pursue it.

The 9/11 attacks cost about a half-million dollars to organize and execute, according to the U.S. 9/11 Commission report. The property damage in New York and Washington alone cost about $100 billion. The cumulative economic cost to the global economy has been estimated as high as $2 trillion. The attack led directly to the war in Afghanistan and indirectly in Iraq. Brown University recently estimated their costs at $4 trillion. So 9/11 was not only traumatic, it was a cheap investment that cost America dearly in lives and treasure.

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