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Fawaz Gerges talks about 'The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda'

According to the American counterterrorism establishment, al Qaeda is on the brink of collapse. Officials suggest that with a small number of additional blows, the U.S. can effectively extinguish the Pakistan-based organization that executed the September 11th attacks. For much of the past decade, this outcome was considered a distant and elusive prospect. But many observers sense some cynicism in the government’s assessment of al Qaeda. These individuals insist that the terrorist group has been ineffective and marginalized for years, and is far from a threat today.

Fawaz A. Gerges is a professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics. Today, we’re talking to him about his new book, The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda.

Fawaz, a leading authority on radical ideologies and Muslim extremism, argues that Western powers have become mired in a “terrorism narrative” that's detached from reality. This narrative, he says, perpetuates the false belief that Americans are in danger of another devastating attack by al Qaeda. Ten years out from 9/11, Fawaz thinks that politicians and special interests use Americans’ deep-rooted fear of terrorism to further their own agendas.

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