Al-Qaeda Monitoring Unit Chief Outlines Vulnerabilities of Al-Qaeda and Taliban

Posted in Terrorism | 27-Aug-08 | Author: Jim Kouri

A portrait of Osama bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaida terrorist organization, painted at the back of a truck with description 'Lion of Islam', travels in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Richard Barrett, the highest ranking UN official responsible for monitoring the activities of Al- Qaeda, said the group continues to degrade seven years after September 11, 2001, hampered by fragmented leadership, widely tarnished credibility, a struggle for relevance, and a chronic inability to live up to its propaganda.

Barrett, a former British intelligence officer who heads the United Nations Al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team, presented his status report in Seven Years After 9/11: Al-Qaeda Strengths and Vulnerabilities, last week at the University of Pennsylvania Club sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.

Penn's Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis & Response (ISTAR), directed by Professor Harvey Rubin, is one of four founding members of ICSR and the only US member. Barrett's report represents his personal views and are not necessarily shared by the United Nations.

"We need to play to the weaknesses not the strengths of Al Qaeda," he told the Penn Club audience that included ICSR members and supporters, diplomats and journalists. Barrett characterized Al Qaeda as a "parasitical organization that latches onto events around world and through them gives itself strength."

Noting Al-Qaeda's inability to live up to its ominous, Internet-delivered pronouncements, he offered, "Perhaps their greatest strength is their propaganda machine." He added that the leadership has been forced to fixate on security, live a precarious existence along the grueling Afghan-Pakistan border, trusting very few and forced to rely on a tenuous communication's system of couriers.

Barrett, who reports directly to the UN Security Council, said Osama Bin Laden's mythical status, fueled by Western media, is greatly overrated. This, he added, works to Al-Qaeda's advantage because it "exaggerates the threat" and the constant caution demonstrated by governments worldwide increases public anxiety.

While Barrett said Osama Bin Laden is now largely "a face on a T-shirt," the group's leadership cannot be taken lightly, stating, "They are limited but clearly both determined and resilient."

As for the future, Barrett says anti-terror forces must keep Al-Qaeda on the defensive and limit its connections to the outside world. "The best way to prevent this is to keep the leaders concerned about their own security and to keep them pinned down in the remote areas of the Afghan/Pakistan border and allow them to suffer the fate of all other outsiders who have attempted to establish themselves in the region."

Dr. Rubin, who introduced Barrett as one of the world's most respected voices on countering terrorism, lauded the new study as "a remarkably timely tool for all those in the field and an eye-opening essay for the world community."

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance ( In addition, he's the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund's weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and He's also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri's own website is located at