Al Qaeda and the Challenge of People Power

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Pakistan's only Christian cabinet member, who was under threat of death for opposing laws against "insulting" Islam, was murdered today in Islamabad. In Yemen, a radical cleric, once a mentor of Osama bin Laden, has rallied crowds with calls for establishing Islamic rule. But the actual toppling of Hosni Mubarak, a goal of al Qaeda for the past 20 years, was accomplished in 18 days by mostly peaceful protesters for whom Islam appeared to be only an afterthought. No violence. No calls for jihad. Surprisingly little anti-Americanism, given US support for Egypt's President over the years. Has America mis-read the Muslim world? The promises of free speech and jobs seem to have more street appeal than radical Islam, and the "War on Terror" looks like a strategic mistake. What does that mean for the power of extremists in the Muslim world? Are they waiting to seize the moment in case promised reforms aren't allowed to happen?




Warren Olney