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February 20, 2007

Al Qaeda, the Franchise
Posted by Rosa Brooks

Today's NYT has a piece on terrorism in North Africa. No, there's nothing new about the existence of terrorist groups in North Africa-- but what's new is that local terrorist groups are recasting themselves as al Qaeda franchises. 

Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (G.S.P.C.) used to stick to murder and mayhem at home, but now their ambitions are reportedly regional and even global: according to Henry Crumpton, US Ambassador at large for counterterrorism, “The G.S.P.C. has become a regional terrorist organization, recruiting and operating" throughout Northern Africa, even sending some recruits off to Iraq.

But here's what should keep you up at night: further evidence that al Qaeda's no longer an organization, but a brand. The Times reports that "Last year, on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Qaeda chose the G.S.P.C. as its representative in North Africa." As befits the proud owners of a new franchise, G.S.P.C. promptly engaged in a little rebranding: as of January, the G.S.P.C.'s new name is "Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb."



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The current wars against Muslims by the American-Israeli Axis of Evil serves as a giant spur to resistance recruiting, and the US popularization of al Qaeda as being all-powerful (led by that guy on dialysis in the cave!) drives recruits toward any organization with that brand name. It's all being orchestrated by the folks who brought us The New American Century and American Exemplarism. Can't have good guys without bad guys.

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