Fawaz Gerges
The Huffington Post
January 5, 20122

The popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain have not only shaken the foundation of the authoritarian order in the Middle East, but they have also hammered a deadly nail in the coffin of a terrorism narrative which has painted Al-Qaeda as the West’s greatest threat. At least, they should have.

Yet despite Osama bin Laden’s killing in May, the dwindling of his group to the palest shadow of its former self and the protest of millions across the Arab world for whom the group never represented, Al-Qaeda holds a grasp on the Western imagination. Few Americans and Westerners realize the degree to which their fear of terrorism is misplaced, making closure over to the costly War on Terror difficult, if not impossible. Shrouded in myth and inflated by a self-sustaining industry of so-called terrorism “experts” and a well-funded national security industrial complex whose numbers swelled to nearly one million, the power of Al-Qaeda can only be eradicated when the fantasies around the group are laid to rest.

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