Der Speigel asks seven terrorism experts their opinions on the progress of the
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Most of the world now has a new understanding of "security." Global terrorism of the sort practiced by al-Qaida finds targets that are not always easy to comprehend: a Danish embassy in Pakistan, nightclubs on Bali, trains in London and Madrid, wedding parties in Jordan, a synagogue in Tunisia, a British bank in Istanbul.
To protect themselves, Western as well as non-Western states have passed new laws, some of them draconian. The United States set up a prison at Guantánamo Bay which has yet to be dismantled.
The CIA has kidnapped and transported terror suspects all over the world, including people who weren't especially suspect and have long been proved innocent. Arab nations have signed dubious extradition treaties to move terrorist suspects back and forth. Russia and China use the "war on terror" for their own purposes -- to declare Chechens and Uighurs potential terrorists, for example. The debate over torture, once thought to be settled in civilized nations, has enjoyed an unexpected and in some ways ignoble renaissance.
Al-Qaida is not beaten. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are still at large. A number of high-ranking members of the organization have been killed or arrested, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and others. But terrorism hasn't stopped. Al-Qaida has retreated in Iraq, perhaps, but in Pakistan as well as North Africa, it has gained influence and space.
But there is no single, clear image of al-Qaida or its current status. It has changed from an organization of militias into something nobody recognizes. Is it more of a movement? Are al-Qaida's capabilities weaker than before, or is another 9/11 still possible? Are there fewer members of al-Qaida now, or more?