The Western media has been consumed with the failed attempt by Farouk
Abdulmutallab to detonate chemical explosives on a Northwestern flight
to Detroit on Christmas. Who is he
? What is his connection to Yemen
? What will he mean for terrorism
? What will he mean for airport security
? Amid all the discussion over Abdulmutallab's act, Foreign Policy's ever-skeptical Marc Lynch notices who's not discussing the attack
: Arabs. On his daily scour of Arab media, he finds that barely anyone cares about the foiled attack on Americans.
The Arab media's indifference to the story speaks to a vitally
important trend. Al-Qaeda's attempted acts of terrorism simply no
longer carry the kind of persuasive political force with mass Arab or
Muslim publics which they may have commanded in the immediate aftermath
of 9/11. Even as the microscopically small radicalized and mobilized
base continues to plot and even to thrive in its isolated pockets, it
has largely lost its ability to break out into mainstream public
appeal. I doubt this would have been any different even had the plot
been successful -- more attention and coverage, to be sure, but not
sympathy or translation into political support. It is just too far
gone to resonate with Arab or Muslim publics at this point.
While everyone -- including us -- was focusing on the details of the
case, Lynch took a step to survey what no one else thought to look at:
how the attack fits within the "war on terror" and the once deep
cultural antagonism between the West and Middle East. If he's right
that Arabs don't care about possibly-al-Qaeda-linked terrorism against
the United States, then popular Arabic passion for war on the west have
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