The overall estimate is bleak, with minor notes of optimism. It depicts a movement that is likely to grow more quickly than the West's ability to counter it over the next five years, as the Iraq war continues to breed "deep resentment" throughout the Muslim world, shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and cultivating new supporters for their ideology.
In describing Iraq as "the 'cause celebre' for jihadists," the document judges that real and perceived insurgent successes there will "inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," while losses would have the opposite effect. It predicts that the elimination of al-Qaeda leaders, particularly Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed after the estimate was completed in April, would probably leave that organization splintered into disparate groups that "for at least a time, pose a less serious threat to U.S. interests" than the current al-Qaeda structure.
On the relative bright side, the assessment notes the unpopularity with "the vast majority of Muslims" of the jihadists' brutal tactics and ultraconservative ideology. Democratic reforms and peaceful political alternatives in Muslim countries will also counter terrorist aims, it says.
But "the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this estimate," the report notes. An intelligence official who was not authorized to speak on the record said the time frame is until early 2011.[emphasis mine]
The biggest underlying factor fueling the spread of the movement is Iraq, period. If Bush had not chosen to embark on his fool's folly there, the War On Terror would pretty much be over as we currently know it. Sure, there would still be those out there who want to do us harm, but they would be disperse and isolated. They would be easy to pick off.
Now, through the great hatred that the Iraq war has brought us, global jihadists have a better social infrastructure in the Muslim world to support them. And at what cost to us? $300 billion tossed down the drain, almost as many US servicemen KIA as citizens we lost in the 9/11 attacks, and a state of military readiness that has left us with only 7,000-10,000 fully equipped reserves. It's hardly what I would call a good job.
Anyone wonder why Iran has become emboldened in their pursuit for nuclear power and possibly weapons?