18,000 Members Of Al-Qaeda? Hogwash

Everywhere I’ve turned today, I keep running across the same bogus claim that Al-Qaeda has 18,000 members. That number comes from a report by a British think tank called the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

So how did the “super geniuses” at the International Institute of Strategic Studies determine that there are 18,000 potential members of Al-Qaeda running around? Could they have somehow gotten their hands on secret Al-Qaeda documents? Did their “contacts” at intelligence agencies around the world provide it to them? Is it possible that they have some sort of super computer that figured this up?

No, it’s nothing like that. Basically, they used a technique known to college students all over the world. Yes, that’s right, the International Institute of Strategic Studies for all intents and purposes “pulled the numbers out of their butts”. Here are more detail from an article entitled “al-Qaida Ranks Swelling Worldwide” (which is by the way typical of how this news has been portrayed on the web today)…

“The IISS said its estimate of 18,000 al-Qaida fighters was based on intelligence estimates that the group trained at least 20,000 fighters in its camps in Afghanistan before the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban regime. In the ensuing war on terror, some 2,000 al-Qaida fighters have been killed or captured, the survey said.”

First of all, I could note that back in Jan of 2004, in an article by The Economist, it was said that…

“Globally, more than 3,000 al-Qaeda operatives have been (as the Americans put it) ‘incapacitated’.”

So are their numbers right? I doubt it, given that the IISS was peddling almost this exact same line of hogwash a YEAR AGO. Here’s a May 14, 2003 story from the Guardian

“They have captured or killed 10 “senior leaders” as well as some 2,000 rank and file members, the institute says. That left a “rump” leadership of around 20 and some 18,000 jihadists who had been through al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan.”

Ah, what a life the clowns who work for this think tank must lead. I can just imagine them sitting around for a year, eating Cheetos and drinking Mountain Dew, and then figuring out that it’s time for another yearly report.

“Just dress up last year’s report a little bit and no one will even notice” someone says, and as far as the mainstream press goes, that appears to be the case.

But, putting that aside, how in the world could anyone with a brain in their head believe that every single person who went through an Al Qaeda training camp are all sitting around in cave somewhere to get their jihad on. What, former members of Al-Qaeda can’t get out of the business, go straight, get arrested for things not related to terrorism, get sick or killed, etc, etc? Apparently, the “finest minds” at the International Institute of Strategic Studies don’t think so. And the mainstream media? They’re eating it up hook, line, and sinker.

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