In part two of his series on why the US hasn’t been attacked since 9/11, Timothy Noah puts forth the Near_Enemy theory:
I place the Near-Enemy Theory one stop further on the worry spectrum from the Terrorists-Are-Dumb Theory because even if al-Qaida is right now preoccupied with opportunities in its backyard, that doesn’t necessarily keep it from devoting some resources to attacking the United States.
Basically he’s saying that Al-Qaeda has not attacked the US since 9/11 because it is more preoccupied with abundant opportunities in its backyard.
This is true. But here’s how I would interpret this: Al-Qaeda was overwhelmingly condemned for the attacks of 9/11 and there isn’t a single Islamic scholar of note who says those attacks were legitimate. Who are the people in Al-Qaeda? They are very religious Muslims, the kind who take note when they face such strong internal condemnation from literally every Islamist on the planet, especially when they are trying to portray themselves as the defenders of Islam.
So they focus on things that are seen as more legitimate, like fighting against US occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are Muslim scholars who say “don’t go because you’ll only make things worse for Muslims everywhere.” But you will never here a Muslim scholar say its illegitimate Islamically to go and fight the American, non-Muslim occupation of Islamic countries.
Thus, the US presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is a major reason for the lack of attacks on the US homeland since 9/11.
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