From a reader:
Your comments on Spain seem to reflect the view that al Qaeda is a
coherent, disciplined organization which is actively pursuing a set of
goals. Whether or not this was true in the 90’s, I think one of the
major underreported successes of the War on Terror is that this is
demonstrably not the case anymore. Spain is a perfect example. While
that particular bunch of thugs has “al Qaeda” affiliations, they are
clearly acting solely out of a desire to change Spain and not the
world. It seems al Qaeda has been splintered into separate terrorist
factions that only really care about their own perceived injustices, be
they Spanish, Filipino, Indonesian, Palestinian, Saudi, or where ever.
al Qaeda simply isn’t a large coordinated movement aimed at changing
the world, it is a catch-all phrase for a particular method of action
with some vaguely similar roots in radical Islam.