In 2006, Osama bin-Laden broadcasted a televised address, which was perceived as a victory step against the Salafi group. In the speech bin-Laden appeared to be anxious.His words were aimed toward the greater Muslim world and sought to reaffirm the reasons why jihad should continue. Specifically, the broadcast was directed toward Arab liberal intellectuals, a recognized threat viewed as betrayers of the true spirit of Islam through their “blasphemous ideas” of democracy, human rights, and moderation.
These gates of thought reduce the degree of popular support for jihad. The decision to open a front against Arab liberals may threaten their scope of work, but it is also a testimony to their moral and political influence in the Arab world. (Al-Qaeda Faces an Ideological Crisis, Amr Hamzawy. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
General support for al-Qaeda is temperamental and fluxuates based on immediate circumstances and emotions; these soft followers are theoretical at best, not physical. This conditional scenario is secured by two lynchpins: civilian casualties at the hands of Salafists and Western actions in the Middle East.
By randomly targeting civilians Salafi groups are gradually forcing a backlash on the Muslim street. It seems that these actions incense the moderate Muslim community and as long as there is no reason to support Salafi terrorism due to Western actions in the region these communities will be compelled to protest the continued loss of Muslim life.
Jihadi leaders have underestimated the degree in which their armed campaigns influence Muslim populations. As a result they are decreasing their ability to wage an ideological war against their targets by loosing certain angles which are needed for their argument. By leveraging off of Muslim fears that al-Qaeda brings instability rather than a holy stable regime the group will become porous, its goals undermined and its calls for jihad will go unanswered.
As a result al-Qaeda will no longer hold the greater intellectual world but will instead be forced to rely on a finite base rather than an infinite amount of likeminded individuals. This will result in a weakening of the group’s range and will limit it to an extreme core which may be defeated militarily.