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Last Updated: Monday, 1 December, 2003, 16:22 GMT
Can Al-Qaeda be defeated?
We discussed this issue in our global phone-in programme Talking Point.


Thursday's suicide bombs in Turkey have been blamed on al-Qaeda and the UK Foreign Office has warned more terror attacks against cities in Turkey may be imminent.

The terrorist group has already claimed responsibility for attacks against two Istanbul synagogues on Saturday.

It sent a statement to an Arabic newspaper in London warning that more "cars of death" would target America's allies, especially Britain, Italy, Australia and Japan.

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said that the attacks should not weaken the resolve of the coalition in the war against terror.

President Bush, speaking in a joint press conference with Mr Blair, warned that "the terrorists hope to intimidate, they hope to demoralise... they're not going to succeed."

How can al-Qaeda be defeated? Has the war in Iraq made the world a more dangerous place?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Yes. I have no doubt that we shall overcome, but what will be the price? Unfortunately, so many innocent lives have been lost so far and many will be lost in the days to come, but we have no choice! The war in Iraq today is the greatest glad tiding, because so many terrorists are there now and so many are going there either, all will join together with the evil governments in the area all will fight for survival, but none will do so.
Alassan Jallow, a Gambian resident in Msaken (Tunisia)

It flatters the terrorists to suppose that their violence has a rational cause. The people involved are fanatics and zealots who would see the Middle East ruled under their own banner. They are killers, and certainly not victims. Likewise, poverty in the Middle East is the product of choices made by states in the Middle East. After all, there is plentiful wealth in the region. al-Qaeda are not interested in making things better, they are intent on carnage to serve their own ludicrous ends. We have a right to defend ourselves against terror, by whatever means.
David, Leicester, UK

Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks are "propaganda actions", entirely meant to influence public opinion towards bowing down to their demands. The way to defeat al-Qaeda is to react to their attacks with ever greater resolve to confront them - exactly the opposite of what the anti-war brigade proposes.
Andrew Walden, Hilo, Hawaii, USA

It is not weather Al-Qaeda can be defeated but they simply will be...because there is no place for people like that in this world future.
Dirk Lassalle, Bermuda

By dismantling all differences and creating a common goal, not only can we defeat Al-Qaeda but keep our world safe
Rakesh, India
Al-Qaeda can only be defeated via cooperation. If cooperation existed, then eliminating Al-Qaeda would become easier. We saw how the Soviets and the US weren't able to make any decisions post World War II which enabled the rise of dictators in certain countries such as North Korea. By dismantling all differences and creating a common goal, not only can we defeat Al-Qaeda but keep our world safe.
Rakesh, India

We will defeat al-Qaeda when America in particular and the west continue to have double standards when dealing with the middle east problem, we in the west continue to take only a subjective view ,when it serves our purpose and politicians assist and put in power regimes that the world knows should not be in a position to control others. The west will I fear continue to pay the price.
Will Bloxidge, Bicester

A benevolent dictator would be the best answer to the Al Qaeda situation, but who would he or she be? The premise of making Israel and Palestine both free states does nothing to satisfy everyone. There will always be hard feelings as long as we have different religious groups within each country, with one group in power. History reveals this!
R. Carver, Bethlehem, PA. USA

I really don't think so but I HOPE so! Trouble is, these people skulk about in the shadows in today's society. How people could carry out Sept. 11 2001 is still, and always will be, a horrible new stage in our planet's history.
Carole Young, Scotland

Al-Qaeda and all the terrorist groups can be defeated, If all the countries in the world take full responsibility for defeating it. Otherwise it will take such a long time to defeat terrorism.
Erdem Özlük, Turkey

Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda will never be defeated. Its not that we don't have the power to do so it's because people will always follow in the previous persons footsteps. There will always be someone with the same ideas and ready to take over.
Charlotte Bronson (14), Salisbury, England

We are failing to learn the lessons of history
James, Toronto, Canada
Without a doubt, we are failing to learn the lessons of history. However, a doubt remains as to which lesson. The Vietnam experience that more force will never win hearts and minds but will alienate so many? Or is it the WW2 lesson that Chamberlain's failed appeasement policies dealing with Hitler, and his decrying of Churchill as a warmonger (sound familiar?) were a product of living in an ideal dream world?
James, Toronto, Canada

Al-Qaeda is just a carrier for evil they will always exist but they must be challenged and destroyed. So the most sensible thing to do is go for its root. Leaving them to thrive has resulted to all the bloodshed that is happening around the globe. Just be still for a moment and see who we are fighting right now? Yes it is Good against Evil. On which side are you?
JT Tavainavesi, Fiji Islands

Terrorism is a product of years of frustration and negligence felt by a considerable segment of the society in the Arab world in particular and in the third world in general. It has to do with insurmountable barriers of apathy and hopelessness, repression, and poverty. As one cannot chase out darkness by darkness, it is only through a peaceful method that terrorism can be illuminated. While remaining vigilant, the West should revise its political, foreign and economic policies affecting the lives of the people in the third world. While this is true, it is also time to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict once for all.
Teamirat N. Seyoum, Manchester, UK

Al-Qaeda will not be defeated unless we are willing to commit to the necessary steps to wipe them out. No mister nice guy. No wars can be won with half measures. In war, it is necessary to not only destroy an organization, whether that be a government or terrorist group, but to also destroy one's will to fight. Make it so costly, they would rather live under yoke than suffer warfare any longer. This is why Israel still has the Arab problem, and why Al-Qaeda still exists. We, in my opinion, have not been harsh enough.
Ryan P., San Jose, CA, USA

Al-Qaeda has been around for decades and they have shown the world what there are capable of during the war in Afghanistan and 9/11. It has shown the world how vulnerable it really is. They have a lot of sleepers only willing to do anything as life has no price at all to them. It is going to be very hard to wipe out Al-Qaeda.
Mark Small, Bridgetown, Barbados

Only by readdressing this balance can animosity to the west be reduced
Simon Corbett, Watford, UK
I am heartened that most contributors to this forum can see and understand that military force cannot be the answer to the defeat of terrorism and that a through revaluation of western, foreign and economic policy are required to reduce the hopelessness and frustration felt by those in less westernised countries. Our continually rising standard of living in the west is propped up by the suffering of Third World countries. Only by readdressing this balance can animosity to the west be reduced, thus defeating terrorism.
Simon Corbett, Watford, UK

Al-Qaeda will only be defeated when the root causes of unrest in the Middle East, in particular repression by Arab governments and youth unemployment are dealt with. When extremists no longer have a rich vein of recruits, it will inevitably wither and die.
Damian Leach, Camberley, UK

I don't believe al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups can be wiped out completely by a purely military solution, only dealt with in a manner which limits their ability to act. Al-Qaeda is a product of fear, hate, and desperation. Until the impoverished areas of the world are given hope (no small task), there will always be new generations of terrorists.
Matthew, Stockton, CA

It is inaction which terrorists thrive on
Jason, Detroit, USA
The surest way to kill Al Qaeda is to bring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all of the Middle East. And, that is precisely George Bush's and Tony Blair's plan. I applaud their actions for it is inaction which terrorists thrive on.
Jason, Detroit, USA

I can't believe I'm hearing this. Every time there is a terrorist attack it is linked to al-Quaeda. How could they possibly be able to organise all this if they're running their operation out of caves in Afghanistan with bin Laden on a dialysis machine. We have the world's most feared terrorist group and yet we have not a shred of evidence that they have committed any attacks whatsoever. Has anyone considered that these terrorists might just be groups of lone individuals who are incensed with America and our involvement with America attacking targets?
Michael Joslin, New Malden, Surrey

I cannot believe the amount of people writing in who believe that we need to be more understanding of the terrorists and realise that it must be something we are doing wrong that is provoking their violent behaviour. Apparently, terrorists are just poor, misunderstood souls. Wake up! There is no justification for purposely targeting innocent people to make a point, whatever the point is.
Steve Lowery, Los Angeles, USA

Al Qaeda will not be defeated by military retaliation aka western responses.. but the movement can be disarmed if it is shamed by Islam. Only when Islamic leaders take full responsibility for their preaching can the balance be redressed. However.... do western governments really want a solution? Whilst they can make heroes of our children..... and exploit the area..... why solve the crisis? Whatever, the classic military response will do nothing more than prolong the fight. The tango continues.
Diane Pyper, Dubai, UAE

With a little more compromising I think they can be defeated
Jackie, UK
I think al-Qaeda can be defeated!! With a little more compromising I think they can be defeated. War on Iraq has made the world think twice about different perspectives in life, but it has been a good thing because we are letting the terrorists know what we are capable of doing, and that is defending our countries!!
Jackie, UK

Not unless we change the methods we use to fight it! Al-Qaeda is simply a view of the world, which was the product of global injustice and domination. It's not a nation, an organisation, or even a religion. We'll never change the views people have unless we address the problems that brought them to those views in the first place.
Adele, UK

Al Qaeda and all other Muslim extremist groups can be defeated by creating Palestinian homeland, replacing all puppet governments in the middle and elsewhere in the Islamic world with elected governments (based on fair elections) and withdrawal of all US and coalition forces from all Muslim countries. Al Qaeda will lose its appeal with no issues to fight for. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the Muslim world also believes in life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Irfan Haqqee, Mississauga, ON

Al-Qaeda and their ilk will only be 'defeated' by removing all interests in what they consider their homeland. Remove the reason to fight, and a solid enemy to fight against and they will soon having nothing to fight for. However, while the West is dependent on fossil fuel for its survival this simply cannot and will not happen. Fossil fuel is economic power, and we all know that power corrupts. So for the West to protect its interests, it's going to make enemies, and will have to live with the inevitable terrorism that results. Bring on renewable energy!
Ryan D., England

Defeating al-Qaeda is like hoping a dream comes true: it is very unlikely to happen but it's not impossible. But the current situation in Iraq, and other Muslim countries, doesn't give any room for optimism. There will always be people thinking they have good reasons to do what they do, no matter what. As long as those fighting them will think the same.
Nicolas, Paris, France

I do not believe that terrorism can be defeated in the way that a conventional military opponent can be defeated. Terrorists are unconventional opponents who rely on hatred and fear in their fight. Our only way to win is to remove the inequalities that create such hatred.
Matt, UK

This group consists mainly of those that and have no morals and human feeling and deceive the world in the name of a religion. Whatever movement in the world tries to justify its beliefs and principles, should do so without disrespect for freedom and human rights and dignity. Everybody is now getting tired of this al-Qaeda and its associate. The fight for good life will defeat this evils.
Dalfos Maila, South Africa

We need strong, but intelligent and open-minded leadership in the west
Pablo Valenzuela, Concepcion, Chile

No. Not the way it is being approached now. The west and its allies need to take a hard look in the mirror, and ask what it is that's making so many people so upset. Obviously masking interests as a noble "war on terror" is not fooling anyone. We need strong, but intelligent and open-minded leadership in the west. Then, and maybe then, the terrorists will begin to subside.
Pablo Valenzuela, Concepcion, Chile

I do not know if we can defeat al-Qaeda. After all it is just a name. Not a place or country. I think we should however seek out and destroy those who associate themselves with this name. Those that sympathize with al-Qaeda should be made to pity them.
Peter Riley, Dallas, USA

Al-Qaeda could be defeated but it's going to take more than just a few of our allies helping us. I'm pretty sure if Germany went to war with another country, that the US would be right beside them. No doubt about that. These other countries should be glad that someone is finally taking root to terrorism. The US and Britain and the few other countries helping can't do everything. Al-Qaeda is just an itch waiting to be scratched, they can be defeated. If the US just stays in, it is going to be a long war.
Melissa, USA

The question is: should Al-Qaeda be defeated? I do not support these bomb attacks on innocent people, but certainly the US-UK-Israel axis of terror uses exactly the same tactics, just with stronger carnage power. The world is fed up of being lied in the name of the so-called "war on terror", and many people is starting to suspect that the true perpetrators of these attacks are actually those who need the fear of terrorism as casus beli.
Gonzalo Vásquez Villanueva, Santiago, Chile

If there is no hope that terrorists can be defeated, then hope is lost for all of us. Simply talking over concerns and turning blind eyes to the terrorists' actions only enables them to stronger action by feeling unstoppable. The US tried to ignore, look away, issue strong verbal warnings for a decade. We were repaid by being attacked time and time again at home and abroad. Just because our side does nothing and looks aside indulgently does not mean that the terrorists will do the same. Quite the opposite, as has been seen. It saddens me to see hope lost, as is written in this forum. Without it, we lose everything. Literally.
Lisa, USA

No, I don't think that Al-Qaeda can be defeated because Al-Qaeda is a state of mind not a physical being. We as an International Community should change our ways of thinking and listing to other people's concerns, if we don't we'll breed new al-Qaedas all over the World... Poverty and Oppression are the main ingredients for Al-Qaeda.
Leroy, Toronto, Canada

Many people think that Al-Qaeda cannot be defeated because it is an idea. Time will tell. But remember that the Nazis were defeated and their evil idea/ideology successfully uprooted.
Ralph, London, England

It's very tempting to adopt a black-and-white viewpoint. Identify a single enemy who is undeniably evil, who has no humanity whatsoever, and with whom you have no common ground at all (e.g. "They kill women and children"). Then declare war on and destroy the enemy in whatever guise he appears. But whatever country you are from, East or West, the trite simplicity of this viewpoint tells you it is no more than a fairy tale. Can all the Peter Pans be defeated?
Adam, Lewes, England

Situations such as Guantanamo Bay do not help in the fight
Yasir, Leeds, England
The only way Al-Qaeda will be defeated is if it is confronted with something apart from Terrorism itself. Some of the attacks on so called Al-Qaeda targets have been nothing short of Organised Terrorism. Situations such as Guantanamo Bay do not help in the fight against disillusioned young men willing to give up their lives in the name of Religion. Before attempting to defeat Al-Qaeda, why not ponder why they have so much anger that they are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to make a statement and to be heard?
Yasir, Leeds, England

If our leaders would stop taking us aggressively into countries where we are not welcome then the question would not arise. Let foreign countries make their own mistakes and sort their own problems. We (the West) were allowed to make our own mistakes in the birth of 'democracy' and all our leaders would maintain that we are the shining examples of successful democracies. If we are going to take the patronising stance that our way of life is right and theirs is backward or outdated then let them grow up at their own speed.
Colin, Belfast

Yes, Al-Qaeda will be defeated because we don't have a choice in this matter. These people just will not understand the meaning of democracy and basic equal rights of all human beings. So we have to and we will defeat it. The question is how? Immediately two answers come in mind. One is obviously through better technology and excellent intelligence to know what they are planning and doing.

The other answer is a little tricky. It is said that don't destroy the bad person, destroy the badness inside him. That is possible through education & stimulating the mind processes of the Muslims who are joining al-Qaeda everyday. It's a long process but has to be done. Yes, al-Qaeda will be destroyed.
Raj, Jaipur, India

Al-Qaeda can be defeated by a two pronged strategy. First the ideology has to be discredited through the mainstream Muslim scholars. Second, the conflict involving the Muslims have to be resolved to stop Al-Qaeda recruiting from these fertile breeding grounds.
Sajid Khan, Boston, USA

As some people stated it; Bush/Blair are targeting the wrong target; Islam instead of Al-Qaeda. The more they do that, the stronger Al-Qaeda becomes, because more and more Muslims become extremist and join/support Al-Qaeda.
Sameer R, Bahrain

Answer to the question can be yes and no. Yes: terrorism can be defeated if there is huge revolutionary change, in mind and policies of the so called world economy and military super powers towards the so called third world especially Islamic countries. And no: Terrorism will not be defeated as long as the honesty and truth is not part of the program for fighting against terrorism.
Nasser Atmar, Ermington, Australia

War is not pretty, but neither are these suicide bombings and the terror some live in because of these groups
Suzanne Wegner, NY, US
The sick thing about this terrorist group is it thrives on all of this media attention. Everything they do is for attention and that is the reason they take full blame for the bombings and attacks. But can they be stopped? Yes. As long as they see we are not going away and we are not going to stop until they are finished, and for that very reason citizens should be backing their governments and the decisions their countries have made. War is not pretty, but neither are these suicide bombings and the terror some live in because of these groups.
Suzanne Wegner, NY, US

It seems that anybody who uses violent means to 'object' to the order of the day falls into the incorrect definition of 'terrorist' with 'possible' links to al-Qaeda. That makes a lot of unidentifiable people branded as al-Qaeda. The USA did not win in Vietnam against a 'Peoples Army', the UK did not, and has not, succeeded in destroying the IRA despite over 30 years of trying to with intelligence, with some force. So no, Al-Qaeda as you refer to it will NOT be defeated. The root causes MUST be re-examined 'cause & effect', 'action & re-action'. Phrase it as you will. The ROOT causes must be looked at in an unbiased, non-aligned way.
B.W. Moore., Stockton, UK

Of course Al-Qaeda will be defeated! I believe it will actually self destruct. Its virulent, uncompromising ideology has already caused it to murder Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and now Turkey. Its ideology based on violence and regression to the dark ages has no integrity. It is destroying its own base of support - that's the nature of this beast.
Zenek, Legnica, Poland

It looks like most people on this site realise that this is not a war in the conventional sense and therefore the only way to win is to use non-military tactics. The fault lays with US foreign policy over decades (currently backed by the UK) which has led to disillusioned people all over the world. Until our leaders recognise and resolve the real issues, Israel/Palestine etc. then I believe these attacks will not stop.
Jenni, Bristol, England

It totally baffles me that Bush and Blair can piously pronounce their resolve to defeat terrorism, having recently kicked off a war with Operation Shock and Awe. What was that if not a terror bombing campaign that killed thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. If we cannot see our own states' terrorism, what chance is there of bringing an end to freelance terrorism?
Dave, Manchester England

There was a poster from the US civil rights movement produced on the death of Martin Luther King that stated: "You can kill a man, but you cannot kill an idea". That message seems just as applicable to today, where our bombs may be doing little more than fuelling the anger towards us. We can kill bin Laden, but like a hydra his disciples will spring forth to take his place.
Adam, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

Do we have a choice? The alternative is too terrible to contemplate. You cannot satisfy people like this - they will demand more and more until they have a world run the way that they want it - like Afghanistan under the Taleban.
Mike, UK

Al-Qaeda be defeated? Yes it can but it means looking at the root causes of it something we all know is what no one wants to do because it mean to stop the poverty and diseases though out the world, the exploitation of so many people and this fascination for the creation of wealth by a few nations to the detriment of others.
The money being wasted in Iraq for control of their assets could be well spent on helping the living instead of creating more terrorists, terrorist that will grow up believing that they have no future other than to die for the cause. Why not start now and give them something other than that to look forward too.
Jako, Australia

Nothing is possible in today's world. There needs to be consistent hard work to find the people behind the terror. However, full international cooperation is needed to fight against terrorism, it is impossible for only one country to carry this out.
Uday Norbert Sharma, Darjeeling, India

Al-Qaeda cannot be defeated by any conventional means. They don't belong to any one country or have an army to fight. They can be anyone, anywhere. Our actions in the Middle East continue to inflame and escalate the attacks.
Joann Fischella, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Al-Qaeda is wrong and represent uncivilized ruling
Ayisha, Dubai

Al-Qaeda is wrong and represent uncivilized ruling. Al-Qaeda can be stopped when George W Bush and Tony Blair realize the target is al-Qaeda and not the Islamic World.
Ayisha, Dubai

You cannot defeat an ideology or a religion which is the basis for al-Qaeda. You can only arrest the spread of it.
Luke, USA/Germany

Long-term solutions demand long-term thinking
Michael, Boston, USA
History teaches us time and again that the most abhorrent terrorism cannot be "defeated"...but it can be cured. The cure, if you will, lies in a complex matrix of education, compassion, justice, honesty, self restraint, and economics. The use of military might is often necessary, of course, but as a way of stabilizing the immediate situation. Long-term solutions demand long-term thinking. Al-Qaeda and its virulent Islamicism are as much a problem of the Islamic world as of the West. Thus, the Islamic world must be full partners in eradicating it.
Michael, Boston, USA

I totally welcome Michael's (of Boston USA) notion that the Islamic world must be an equal partner in the war on terror. However he among others fail to realise that soon after 9/11 the Islamic world was actually isolated on this matter. They should not have been but were. Bush and Blair threatened rather than sought help. I myself feel totally isolated on this matter. It is true that a true muslim can never support the likes al-Qaeda, but then I cannot find it in my heart to support Bush and Blair's present stance.
Abdul Karim, UK

Using their current methods it doesn't seem likely Bush and Blair can defeat al-Qaeda. Both were emphatically warned by their security services that bombing, invading and occupying Iraq would INCREASE the threat of terrorism. Through their actions Bush and Blair have knowingly made matters worse.
Ron F, London, UK

Terrorism is the desperate violence of the militarily weak. It only arises where injustice is enthroned. Only official injustice can produce the mass popular anger and hatred that the terrorists need to recruit support and to hide themselves.
Brendan Tuohy, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa

I do not think Al-Qaeda can be defeated. And even if it could, another organisation, perhaps more radical, would take its place the next day. As intelligent people we should stop listening to Bush/Blair's war cries and start to seriously ask us WHY they are doing this? Once we have understood this, we can decide if we want to change our behaviour or if we really want to fight them to the last man.
Roland Staehli, Switzerland

It is simplistic to assume that terror will be defeated by force
Abdul, Sheffield, England
It is simplistic to assume that terror will be defeated by force. Unless the root causes of it are tackled head on, there will always be willing recruits. The Arab and Muslim world feel that they have been unjustly treated, and humiliated for decades. This does not mean that they agree with the methods the terrorists use. However, when there is a state of desperation and helplessness, a poor man's response to injustice is a human bomb. Is time the west stopped using the Israeli slogan of anti-Semitism to silence their critics, and be fair and even-handed in treating world problems.
Abdul, Sheffield, England

Al-Qaeda is not just a gang; it's a network of people who share the belief that the West has corrupted the Islamic world. It is not merely a terrorist gang that can be defeated with guns; it is the manifestation of genuine, legitimate resentment in the Islamic world. Shooting everyone in Al-Qaeda would not put an end to the violence; the resentment would go on, and generate a new network to replace the one that was broken. What we "can" do is put an end to the practices that generate the underlying resentment. The US in particular must stop supporting repressive dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia. More difficult, we must break our addiction to oil.
John Stracke, Boston, USA

Al-Qaeda cannot be defeated. We must bring them to dialogue. They will not do so now - but will do when it starts hurting. Until then we must keep up the pressure. Getting at the purse is better than getting at the power base. To rephrase Mao - power springs from the purse, although this may however be very difficult.
S Ravi,

When are the world leaders especially Bush and Blair going to realise you cannot fight a war against an abstract? How does knocking down houses in Iraq and locking "suspects" up indefinitely without access to the "civilized world's" legal rights win the hearts and minds of people? Terrorism will continue as long as the west continues to fail to address its root causes. Blair and Bush don't even seem to recognise the causes let alone have a plan for eliminating them.
Nick Barnes, St George's Grenada

Perhaps someone should let Bush and Blair know that acquiring Iraq oil does nothing to stop terrorism. They don't seem to comprehend this simple fact.
Ambrosia, Canada

Al-Qaeda must absolutely enjoy reading messages like these. They attack and kill thousands yet everyone blames Bush and Blair for the attacks. Just as a reminder to all the people on this board that Al-Qaeda attempted to blow up the WTC in 1993 while George Bush was only an owner of a baseball club.
Michael Abele,

We must not reward them through appeasement
Caroline, New Jersey, USA
Terrorist attacks occurred prior to 9/11 and prior to Pres. Bush. It is wrong and entirely too simplistic to place the blame of their increase on Pres. Bush's or America's shoulders. One of the main purposes of these attacks is to create fear and make nation's withdraw. We must do the opposite. We must not reward them through appeasement. We must stand firm for our beliefs, destroy their networks and combat the poverty that makes their organization so palpable to their desperate followers.
Caroline, New Jersey, USA

Blair speaks of "attacking it (terrorism) wherever and whenever we can and in defeating it utterly." Has he learned nothing from the decades of violence in Northern Ireland. The only way to defeat terrorism is to seriously address its causes. Global Terrorism is the symptom of an unjust Global Order. Get a grip. Start distributing some of that massive corporate wealth you dithering fool.
Neil Brackenridge, Leeds

The comments on here suggesting that if the west is "nice" in its policies, terrorists will appreciate it and just give up. Totally ludicrous. Al Qaeda can be defeated through economics, political and philosophical initiatives as well as the appropriate use of targeted force.
Steve A, UK

Al Qaeda is, I am sorry to say, the worm turning. After years of cultural and material abuse by some western powers, a small group of affronted Asians, Arabs and Middle Eastern people have started to hit back. While I hate what they do, I cannot find it in my heart to blame them. I am certain that if I was a Palestinian, I would feel compelled to heap as much damage upon the US and Israel as I could rather than lie down and die under the jackboot of tyranny.
John Lawrence, UK

Conventional military force cannot defeat a guerrilla enemy like al Qaeda
Colin Smith, UK
You are making the assumption that they want to defeat al-Qaeda. The war on terrorism is like the war against Eurasia and East Asia in Orwell's book, 1984. They are a convenient enemy who can be used to justify any measures which they see fit to control the populace. Conventional military force cannot defeat a guerrilla enemy like al-Qaeda, this fact has been shown time and again in the past, so why is Mr. Bush trying to use military force to wage a "War on terror"?
Colin Smith, UK

Colin Smith, who drew attention to George Orwell's Book "1984", is the only person in your selection of letters that has understood the situation. The point is that Blair and Bush are not so stupid that they "cannot see" the obvious point that the attitude of the West (particularly the USA) to Israel is the cause of muslim anger. The point is that they need to have the "Terrorist Threat" to justify their repression of their own peoples. If there were no Al-Quaeda they would invent it.

"The War on Drugs" falls into the same category. There is a very simple way to defeat the drug Lords and reduce the drugs problem to the negligible nuisance it was in Britain before the 1960s (As was pointed out by the conference of Chief Constables, years ago), but they don't want to know, because they LIKE having this problem. The problem lies with the likes of Blair, Bush and Berlusconi, not with them personally, but with the whole class of such people who want large forces of repression to feel protected from their own people.
Tony Wooster, Riva del Garda, (TN) ITALY

If the whole al-Qaeda network is arrested today, in one year there will another al-Qaeda. Find the root cause and do something about it. Israel, poverty, despair of living on this planet.
Gazy, UK

First, it is nearly impossible to stop random acts of violence. Second, we do not know for sure if Al Qaeda was responsible for the latest blast in Turkey. While it is likely, we should not assume until all facts are in. The blast was used by Bush to try to push Britain closer to his justification of force - although ironically, once again Iraq was not involved. But more attacks on Iraq will be the result.
K. C., USA

The real way to defeat terrorism is pure and simple: economic policy
Gavin, London, UK
The real way to defeat terrorism is pure and simple - economic policy. As an example look at Ireland - the big difference was joining the EU. Ireland was suddenly in the midst of an economic boom. When the young have jobs, prosperity and money, they cant be bothered to get involved with Terrorism and fundamental groups - they have nothing to gain.
Gavin, London, UK

Bush and Blair are going to create a world replicating the Israel-Palestine crisis. They will try to fight fire with fire. There can only be one outcome in this situation: violence will escalate and ordinary people will be made to suffer. Since Iraq was invaded, there has been a steady increase in the frequency of terrorist activities. Bush and Blair's policies will only feed the hatred against the west, therefore pushing more into terrorism. Short-sightedness and a lack of understanding are the fundamental drivers behind all conflicts in the world. Suicide bombers won't be stopped by force and cannot simply be stamped out. We have to understand why someone would do such a thing. The only way around the problem is to reduce world inequality and start understanding these people's frustrations.
Robin F, Cranfield University, England

Creating world peace is a tall, if not impossible, order. The practical solution would be to infiltrate these terror organisations and play them at their own game... The only question is who would be prepared to do it? Would George W? I think not.
Jolzon, Guildford, UK

The world must unite together against such organisations
James Rosen, London, UK
Yes we can defeat them, but the world must unite together against such organisations, show our collective rejection of their methods and prove to them that every freedom-loving person, whether they are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, wants the world rid of violence.
James Rosen, London, UK

Al-Qaeda, like any terrorist organisation, can never be defeated by force alone. President Bush has done nothing but increase support for them. With him as US President, the world is a much more dangerous place than it was. We need intelligent politicians who can try to understand WHY there is so much hate towards the West among huge swathes of Muslim populations, rather than simply try to ignore anyone who doesn't agree with Bush's global vision.
Reza, Valencia, Spain

The Bush administration has taken advantage of the attack on 11/9 to start a policy of global control. Iraq had no links with Al-Qaeda and now after the US invasion it has become the frontline on the war on terror so if anything the war in Iraq has raised the danger of terrorists. Also since this was has obviously failed to secure WMD (if there were any) the danger of usage of such weapons by terrorist is greater.
Anastacia Bakodimou, Athens, Greece

When will they start focusing on peace?
Sascha Giebel, Berlin, Germany
The US and Britain are talking so much about war, war on drugs, war on poverty and now a war on terrorism. When will they realise that war only continues to bring war, violence only brings new violence. When will they start focusing on peace?
Sascha Giebel, Berlin, Germany

Of course they can be defeated, but it's going to take a long time, a lot of patience and wisdom. It's also going to take a mixture of diplomacy, policy shift and military force where necessary. Diplomacy and policy shift must be used to cut off their source of new recruits and direct force must be used to destroy the core of the organisation, who like most fanatics cannot be reasoned with. Let's hope we get some leaders who are up to the challenge of dealing with the situation soon.
Colin Wright, UK

In Colin Powell's words "The war on terror can't be won in our lifetime". We don't have a clear and definite enemy here. Al-Qaeda will only be defeated when the US adopts a policy of 'live and let live', respecting other nations.
Rakesh, India

They are chipping away at their support within the Islamic world
Jane, UK
I believe al-Qaeda will ultimately defeat themselves due to their, seemingly, indiscriminate methods. By bombing Western targets in Eastern countries they are chipping away at their support within the Islamic world with each Muslim they murder.
Jane, UK

The British couldn't stop the IRA for over 30 years. Israel hasn't been able to stop the suicide bombers. Bush and Blair are deluding themselves.
Sukh, UK

We will be mistaken if we think of Al-Qaeda as an ORGANIZATION, it's more like a ground movement, fuelled by resentment against the US because of its double standard and bias toward Israel.
Dr Hakeem, Alexandria, Egypt

All of these groups are now attacking us and yet we still don't learn
John Fowler, Wilmslow, UK
Al-Qaeda can only be defeated when the West decides that a long term ethical foreign policy is the way forward. We armed, trained and funded Saddam against Iran, the Taleban against the Russians and Islamic militants in Bosnia against the Serbs. All of these groups are now attacking us and yet we still don't learn. We are now arming some of the most despotic regimes in the world, like Karimov's Uzbekistan, where prisoners are boiled to death. These same regimes will be attacking us in the future. Break the appeasement and short term of our current foreign policy and stop funding future terror groups.
John Fowler, Wilmslow, UK

Blair and Bush just don't get it. Al-Qaeda isn't a foreign country waging war, or an organisation carrying out attacks. It is a set of extremist ideas. The more we attack the more we nurture these ideas in the Muslim world. Currently I don't see the root cause being addressed.
Neil, Wrexham, Wales

Congratulations to Neil, Wrexham, Wales: You have hit the nail right on the head. If you can visualise Al-Qaeda as a scientific theory that just gets proved correct again and again by Blair/Bush in the minds of people who have nothing left to lose - apart from their faith - there will be no end to this terror. Our 'free' western civilization will have altered so much that the only choices will be between 'dark ages fundamentalism' or 'new age techno-fascism', which, I suspect, was the very trap that Bin Laden hoped we'd fall into all along.
Susanna, London, UK

Yes they can, but first of all, we need to know who they are and whether Osama bin Laden is still their leader - if he is still alive that is. Also where buildings and airlines are prospective targets for this terrorism, there needs to be more security and anyone who is working as security, but looks out-of-place needs to be watched. We do not need another fiasco like the one at present where a Mirror reporter got a job as a Buckingham Palace footman.
Joanne Edwards, Brighton, UK

Can terrorism be defeated? No. Not in the way the world thinks it can be. I remember in the 1980s when Asala, an Armenian terrorist group, was killing political leaders and innocent people in Turkey, bombing airports. Had Turkey invaded Armenia (and France because of its support) would it have been stopped? No, I don't think so. Would anybody support the invasion in the West? Definitely not. But how did it stop? Changing attitudes, political campaigns and lobbies working all over the world for the same cause is more effective. For Al-Qaeda and similar groups, there are still too many reasons to continue to fight. And they will never have a political ground.
Mehmet G Irengun, Turkish, UK

If anybody from Al-Qaeda reads this then perhaps you could note that most Britons and Americans do not know your demands. How can we help resolve our differences with you if we do not know what they are? If it is our greed for oil please say so. If our lax morality offends you, please let us know. But please stop killing innocent people and let the mass populous of the western world know your grievances. This would be the first step in stopping this terrorist war.
Alastair, UK





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