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Bin Laden's death puts exclamation point on Al Qaeda's demise

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The numbers back Lynch up. A Pew poll released yesterday, and conducted before bin Laden's death, shows that Muslim "confidence that Osama bin Laden will do the right thing in international affairs" has plummeted in the past eight years. In Indonesia, the number of supporters fell from 59 percent to 26 percent. In the Palestinian territories, the number fell from 72 percent to 34 percent, while in Pakistan it dropped from 46 percent to 18.

Bin Laden's actual relevance to recent global terrorist operations was limited. Like-minded terrorist groups – the so-called Al Qaeda franchises in Iraq, in Yemen, in North Africa and elsewhere – had put out shingles of their own. They use the Al Qaeda name and share bin Laden’s austere and chauvinistic salafy brand of Islam, but are free agents.

The 16 people murdered by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in a Morocco explosion last week, for instance, didn’t die at bin Laden’s hands or on his orders. Whether AQIM flourishes or fails has almost nothing to do with bin Laden.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based group that claimed responsibility for sending the failed underwear bomber to the US, is also autonomous and more internationally engaged than the old core of Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

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