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Al-Qaeda not weakening – BBC poll

September 28, 2008
Story from BBC NEWS: US-led efforts to tackle the al-Qaeda group are not regarded as successful, an opinion poll carried out for the BBC World Service suggests.

Some 29% of people said the “war on terror” launched by President George W Bush in 2001 had had no effect on the Islamist militant network.

According to 30% of those surveyed, US policies have strengthened al-Qaeda.

The most commonly held view of al-Qaeda in the 23 nations polled was a negative one – except in Egypt and Pakistan.

Terror stalemate

Asked who is winning “the conflict between al-Qaeda and the US”, 49% said neither side while 22% believed the US had gained the upper hand. Just 10% said al-Qaeda was winning.

 

BBC defence analyst Rob Watson said the overall verdict across the world appeared to be that the war on terror had produced something of a stalemate.

The next question the pollsters asked was: “Do you think what US leaders refer to as the ‘war on terror’ has made al-Qaeda stronger, weaker or has had no effect either way?”

Just 22% said US action had made the organisation weaker – that figure rising to 34% in the US itself.

Losing hearts and minds?

Our correspondent says there is plenty in this survey to worry the governments of Egypt and Pakistan.

When asked “overall would you say your feelings about al-Qaeda are positive, negative or mixed”, some 60% of Egyptians said they had either a positive or mixed view.

Analysts say the group continues to have many Egyptians among its leaders.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, where much of the battle against al-Qaeda is being fought, just 19% said they had a negative view of Osama Bin Laden’s organisation.

Doug Miller, from polling agency Globescan, said the findings from Egypt and Pakistan were “yet another indicator that the US ‘war on terror’ is not winning hearts and minds”.

Some 24,000 adults across 23 countries were polled for the BBC World Service between 8 July and 12 September.

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