How a cottage terrorism industry made a lion out of an al-Qaeda mouse

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart in Responsible Statecraft:

In her new book, The Bin Laden Papers, Nelly Lahoud, a senior fellow at New America, has gone through the huge collection of information purloined by Navy Seals in their 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout, information that was declassified in 2017. The book essentially concludes that Carle had it right. Although “falsely” taken to be “a Leviathan in the jihadi landscape,” she says al-Qaeda has actually been notable mainly for its “operational impotence” while bin Laden, its fabled, if notorious, leader, continued to pursue “alarmingly sophomoric” goals and was “powerless and confined to his compound, over-seeing an ‘afflicted’ al-Qaeda.”

Al-Qaeda central was holed up in Pakistan after its abrupt enforced exit from Afghanistan in 2001, an experience, notes Lahoud, that “crippled” it and from which “it never recovered.”

More here.