Muslim Backing Of Al-Qaeda Wanes

Friday, February 8, 2008

The violent attacks by al-Qaeda and by the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq have led people and religious groups in the Muslim world to reduce their financial support for Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and to question its leadership, senior U.S. intelligence officials told Congress yesterday.

"There seems to be a greater indication on the part of people within Islam to question the vision of al-Qaeda and the future that they're holding out," CIA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during a hearing on worldwide threats. He said al-Qaeda's leaders are "being forced to enter into a frankly open dialogue . . . with the body of believers."

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told the panel that "the brutal attacks unleashed by al-Qaeda in Iraq and the other al-Qaeda affiliates against Muslim civilians have tarnished al-Qaeda's self-styled image as the extremist vanguard." He told the panel that "al-Qaeda has had difficulty in raising funds and sustaining themselves" over the past year since the Saudi government began arresting alleged al-Qaeda terrorists following attacks in that country.

Despite those signs, McConnell said, al-Qaeda remains "the preeminent terrorist threat to the United States here at home and abroad."

-- Walter Pincus

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