The idea that al-Qaeda is on the brink of collapse has taken hold. On Wednesday, the Washington Post noted that “U.S. counterterrorism officials are increasingly convinced that the killing of Osama bin Laden and the toll of seven years of CIA drone strikes have pushed al-Qaeda to the brink of collapse.” Indeed, the Post reports that the view is “widespread” in the CIA and other agencies that “a relatively small number of additional blows could effectively extinguish the Pakistan-based organization.” This comes on the heels of defense secretary Leon Panetta’s declaring in early July that the U.S. is “within reach” of “strategically defeating” al-Qaeda if it kills or captures ten or 20 of its remaining leaders. But if there’s one thing the past ten years of the fight against jihadi groups has taught us, it is: Don’t believe the hype.
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