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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"

Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen is a print and television journalist and author of "Holy War, Inc.," about Osama bin Laden and Islamist militant groups around the world. He is a terrorism analyst for CNN and recently worked as a special correspondent for National Geographic's Explorer program. He has written for a variety of publications including the New York Times, The New Republic, Vanity Fair, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Post and The Washington Times. He is presently a fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington DC and lectures at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

"The reason that bin Laden has a lot of appeal around the Muslim world is the following - and this may be hard for people in the West to understand. He is regarded as being somebody who's sort of incorruptible. Unlike so many of the Middle Eastern sort of monarchs or dictators, he's seen as somebody who's sort of a rich guy who sacrificed his life or his money in the service of Islam."

"So, you're talking about a pool of several thousand people who got some form of terrorist training, who are ideologically highly motivated. They believe that God is on their side. In fact, they don't believe it; they know it. And that's a pretty powerful form of knowledge. And these people are prepared to fight to the death, clearly, and they are well trained. And they're an opponent not to be underestimated.

"And, by the way, one of their hallmarks is patience. And the United - Americans, as a general principle, are not a very patient people. Al Qaeda is a rather patient group. It took them five years to attack - plan the attacks on the US embassies in Africa. And it took them two and-a-half to three years to plan the 9-11 attacks."

"One of the reasons that [al Qaeda's] been particularly dangerous is that over the past decade, probably 20, 30, 40,000 people went through bin Laden's camps to get some form of basic military training. Not all of them went on to get more sophisticated, terrorist training, but certainly some did.
"So, in a sense, al Qaeda has made a virtue of necessity. It lost its base in Afghanistan as a result of the war. It's now more dispersed, less centralized, more virtual, [has] more presence on the Internet; and is interested in attacking softer targets - not necessarily US embassies or US military bases, but places like discos; places like, you know, McDonald's restaurants - symbols of America overseas and Westerners, in general. And these are pretty easy targets."

   Read more about "The New Face of Terror: Upping the Ante" in the Episode Gallery.
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