Peter Bergen Discusses State of Al Qaeda at UVa Forum

By: Liz Palka Email
By: Liz Palka Email

Friday, September 12, 2008

Journalist and terrorism analyst, Peter Bergen, knows Osama bin Laden better than any other person. At a UVa forum this morning, Bergen discussed the terrorist and where Al Qaeda is today.

His book, The Osama bin Laden I Know, is a portal into the life of the most sought after terrorist in the world.

"Here's this guy who is responsible for the 9/11 attacks and we don't know much about him," explained Peter Bergen, a fellow of the New America Foundation. "So I interviewed people who knew him: friends, family, former business associates, people who fought with him in Afghanistan.

But at the forum today, the focus was on the state of Al Qaeda, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

"We've gone for seven years with out any major attacks or attacks by Al Qaeda within our country. That certainly is a testament to many of the changes that have been made," said Dr. Gregory Saathoff, the Executive Director of the Critical Incidence Analysis Group for the UVa School of Medicine.

Bergen said this discussion was important to draw attention to the threat Al Qaeda poses both here and over seas.

"The end is in sight in the sense that, it is very difficult for Al Qaeda to attack the United States right now. On the other hand, they're patient, they think god is on their side. They are going to be around for a while. Al Qaeda in Iraq is weakened. Al Qaeda on the Afghan/Pakistan border is stronger.

According to Bergen, the surge is one of the reasons why violence is down in Iraq. But, there are several underlying factors as well.

"Sunni tribal leaders turning against Al Qaeda. Putting Sunni militants on the American payroll so they're shooting at Al Qaeda not shooting at us. Shi'a militias engaging in ceasefires. A much larger Iraqi army than existed two or three years ago that's proving somewhat affective. There are several factors why the violence has gone down, the surge being one factor," said Bergen.

Bergen also told CBS19 that if bin Laden were captured and killed, it would not end the Jihadi terrorist movement. But, it would be a good start.

For more information on upcoming forums held by the Miller Center of Public Affairs, click on the link below.

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