On the October 19 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, guest Oliver North, also a FOX News Channel host, claimed that "there are fewer terrorists around to commit those kind of acts [terrorist attacks]" now, compared with the months surrounding September 11. Similarly, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed on his October 15 show that, since the Iraq War began, "[T]hese terrorists are on the run. Their ranks have been cut back."
But according to the 9-11 Commission report, since September 11, 2001, the "radical ideological movement in the Islamic world" inspired by Al Qaeda "has spawned terrorist groups and violence across the globe." This enemy, the report states, "is gathering, and will menace Americans and American interests long after Usama Bin Ladin and his cohorts are killed or captured." In June, the State Department's revised annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report showed that "significant" terrorist attacks are at a 21-year high.
Other analyses have observed a growing terrorist threat, as Media Matters for America has noted. According to an article in the July/August issue of Mother Jones: "Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of counterterrorism at the CIA under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said the Iraq war has 'accelerated terrorism' by 'metastasizing' Al Qaeda. Today, Al Qaeda is more than the narrowly defined group that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001; it is a growing global movement that has been energized by the war in Iraq."
The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British-based think tank that focuses on political-military conflict, stated in its 2003-2004 report, The Military Balance, that the "war in Iraq has probably inflamed radical passions among Muslims and thus increased Al Qaeda's recruiting power and morale and, at least marginally, its operating capability," according to an October 15, 2003, Reuters article.
Several newspaper and wire reports also support this claim:
- The Christian Science Monitor, "Al Qaeda may be rebuilding: US has captured key operatives, yet the war in Iraq may spawn a new army of recruits," May 5, 2003.
- Associated Press, "Iraq War Boosts Militants' Recruiting," April 1, 2003.
- Los Angeles Times, "Al Qaeda Seen as Wider Threat," September 26.