Al Qaeda’s G8 mistake

UPI editor-in-chief Martin Walker, a Briton by birth though he has resided in America for years, argues that al Qaeda may have miscalculated by targetting this particular G8 summit:

Analysis: Al-Qaida’s G8 mistake (UPI, July 7)

While al-Qaida showed their customary ruthless skill in planning the London bombings, their choice of target may become a major strategic mistake. London was not the only victim of the spate of bombings of the trains and buses of the London transit system. The bombers clearly meant to sow not only panic but financial disruption, hitting stations in the heart of the city of London, where most of world’s daily $1.5 trillion trades in currency are made. That plan failed. The London markets — which did not close — quickly sank 3 percent, but then recovered.


By attacking the country currently hosting the G8 summit, al-Qaida has once again made it clear that its enemy is the West as a whole, all the advanced industrialized nations, including the next G8 invitees such as India, China and Brazil. And when the G8 leaders declared Thursday that the attack on London was an attack on them all, the real isolation of al-Qaida, and the utter emptiness of their political agenda, became brutally clear.

But this G8 was rather different. By bombing Britain at this time, al-Qaida also made it clear that it did not give a hoot about world poverty, about Africa, about the relief of debt, or about global warming. Al-Qaida’s bombers also spat in the face of the millions of young people who turned up or tuned in to the Live 8 concerts over the weekend, who were moved by the appeals of the artists and singers to make a difference and use their voices and their votes and their civic pressure to urge their political leaders to tackle poverty and climate change.


More ironic still, the West is trying to help Africa clamber out of poverty; the sheikhs of Araby are plunging Africa deeper into penury. The oil bill for sub-Saharan Africa is this year going to be $10 billion higher than it was a year ago — and most of that money is heading for the coffers of the country that produced most of the 9/11 terrorists.

These ironies will not be lost on a new generation of Westerners, of Japanese and Russians and Brazilians, and quite possibly of Indians and Chinese, just coming of age. The Live 8 concerts will probably make this G8 summit the first political event in which these young people took a serious interest, and they have seen it blown out of the headlines by bombers who view the grander goals of Live 8 with contempt and as an opportunity for the most bloodily vicious form of exploitation.


[D]oubtless al-Qaida’s London franchisees thought they were being really clever in hitting not just against Blair’s Britain, as one of ‘Crusader countries” with troops in Iraq, but also hitting the G8 as a whole when all the world’s media was gathered to watch it grapple with the real issues of poverty and climate change that Blair had laid before it. What they hit instead was the sense of idealism and hope that millions of young people had invested in this G8, and they are likely to remember who spoiled their party.

One certainly hopes that will be the case. The West’s capacity for blaming itself is immense, however.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Burgess says:

    I’m going to be watching how “more benign” (i.e., not using bombs) protesters behave at other “globalization” events–World Bank gatherings and the like. The terrorists are taking up the anti-globalization agendas and the protesters are going to get linked, like it or not.

  2. Herb Ely says:
  3. Jim Henley says:

    Something about Al Qaeda made it clear it doesn’t give a hoot about . . . global warming makes it just the funniest thing I’ve read in days.

  4. Meezer says:

    Yes, did I miss all the announcements by Al Qaeda about their plans to deal with poverty, health care, education, *anything*? The statements that show disbelief that anyone could bomb someone during such a *caring* event shows just how out of it the speakers are.

  5. Anderson says:

    Well, maybe the damage to Qaeda will be minimized by Muslims reading OTB and learning that more aid to Africa is a bad idea anyway.