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Avoiding Armageddon
From the Experts

Voices from - Silent Killers: Poisons and Plagues

Voices from - Nuclear Nightmares: Losing Control

Voices from - The New Face of Terror: Upping the Ante
Daniel Benjamin
Peter Bergen
Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj
Dr. Bruce Hoffman

Voices from - Confronting Terrorism: Turning the Tide

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Voices from "The New Face of Terror: Upping the Ante"

Daniel Benjamin

Daniel Benjamin is an expert on global terrorism and counter-terrorism. He is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), serving in the CSIS International Security Program. Prior to joining CSIS in January 2001, he was Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace. From 1994 to1999, he served on the National Security Council staff. From 1998-1999, he was director for transnational threats. His principal responsibilities were in the area of counter-terrorism and included coordinating US counter-terrorism policy, programs and budgets within the federal government.

"Jihadists terrorists believe that they are a part of a metaphysical struggle - struggle between Good and Evil. And the camp of the Good is defined by those [who] are true believers, and their opponent is what they will call 'world infidelity.' It is the nonMuslim world and - and apostate Muslims like the leaders of - as they call them, the leaders of many of the moderate Muslim states in North Africa, in the Middle East and other - other regions."
"It's very hard to predict the future, but I think it's a safe bet that even if al Qaeda is decapitated or even more extensively destroyed, that we have not seen the end of this phenomenon. And the reason is that al Qaeda is not just a self-contained terrorist organization. It is also a dynamic ideological movement, and it's been spreading its ideology, really, to the Four Corners of the globe.

"Its effort in this regard is really one of the extraordinary stories of globalization, because they've used electronic media and videocassettes and audiocassettes and the like to spread a very powerful message. And they have done so with remarkable success."

"The kind of terrorism that al Qaeda practices has a natural affinity with weapons of mass destruction. These are the most destructive weapons, and this is a group that is seeking the most destructive attacks. So, the possibility that they will, indeed, carry out an operation using a chemical, or biological or probably the worst-case scenario, a nuclear attack is very real.

"And, I think, so far, we've been fortunate that they haven't had their hands on those materials and carried out such an attack; because it would be devastating. And even in the case that there weren't as many casualties, there is a peculiar horror that attaches to those weapons because of their histories.

"I think that's what makes this group the most dangerous, but what also makes them extremely dangerous is that they are astonishingly inventive and imaginative. Terrorism before al Qaeda was a pretty conservative activity. It was always the same tactics."


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