The 9/11 attacks were a spectacular terrorist version of Che Guevara’s “foco” theory — a small band of armed men launches attacks on an enemy loathed by the population on whose behalf it claims to act, assuming that this will rally the masses to armed revolt. And like Che’s Bolivia foco, it was a spectacular failure.
Eight years on, tensions are escalating between the U.S. and its allies on the one hand, a range of Muslim adversaries on the other. But al-Qaeda is irrelevant, its attempt to supplant the likes of Hamas, Hizballah, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood through made-for-TV spectacular mass casualty terror attacks lying in tatters. It should have been obvious from the get-go that this would fail: The surest sign was the fact that from Cairo to Islamabad and Jakarta, Muslims were so repulsed by the wanton killing of innocents that they preferred to see it as the dirty work of the CIA or Mossad, rather than of “glorious mujahedeen” as Bin Laden would have it.