Monday, October 6, 2008

Egyptians Challenge BBC Al-Qaida Poll Result

CAIRO -- The financial crisis sweeping through the United States may have temporarily shifted the focus away from the so-called war on terrorism, however, it remains a centerpiece of Washington's foreign policy. A recent study conducted for the BBC revealed a stark truth about the Middle East: al-Qaida's popularity appears to be growing.

These latest facts have a number of Western analysts asking how such a phenomenon could have occurred, especially in the wake of the horrific attacks of Sept. 11 2001 that saw the vast majority of the world come out in support of the United States.

But seven years on, the situation has changed dramatically.

Many in the Arab world have stopped connecting 9/11 to al-Qaida. In fact, according to the BBC poll some 60 percent of Egyptians reported having "favorable" or "mixed views" on the global terror network.

Doug Miller from the polling agency Globescan said the findings from Egypt and Pakistan were "yet another indicator that the U.S. 'war on terror' is not winning hearts and minds."

Some analysts were quick to point out that much of the Egyptian support for the terror network is tied to the fact that many Egyptians are in positions of power within al-Qaida, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's number two man.

Overall, people in 22 out of 23 countries believe U.S. efforts to weaken the terrorist organization have failed.

Only 22 percent of those polled believe that al-Qaida has been weakened, while three in five believe that U.S. efforts have had no effect (29 percent) or made al-Qaida stronger (30 percent).

The BBC polled approximately 24,000 adults across 23 countries between July 8 and Sept. 12.

Despite this evidence, Egyptians simply are not buying it. Many here argue that these surveys often skew actual evidence to the contrary.

"Egyptians do not understand what al-Qaida truly is," began a freelance journalist who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, "so when someone asks people here how they view the organization many will indeed say they support or view them favorably."

From the Middle East Times

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