What the United States Can Do

US officials need to “pay attention to what the enemy says,” asserted media expert and defense consultant Chuck de Caro, when discussing al Qaeda and the war on terror at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium last week in Los Angeles. Low-level fighters are easily replaced if al Qaeda’s message resonates in Islamic communities, so the United States should go about discrediting that message, argued de Caro. Prominent radical leaders have said as much, and the West should pay closer attention to al Qaeda’s self-described vulnerabilities, he said. One al Qaeda propagandist came right out at one point, saying he feared that radical Islam’s enemies would take actions, such as portraying minor al Qaeda disagreements as doctrinal struggles, noted de Caro. This propagandist also expressed concern that mainstream Islamic leaders would debate and refute the radicals’ ideology, he explained. According to de Caro, US authorities must place more effort on the media aspect of the war on terror to discredit the terrorist movement and its leaders and draw its audience away. The United States has to step up its efforts to set the narrative, drown out al Qaeda’s message, and make that message unappealing, he said during his Nov. 17 speech.