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The Enemy’s Number

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Yesterday’s deaths in Morocco and today’s carnage in Algeria again raise a question I put to E.J. Dionne yesterday: How numerous are the jihadists?  The exchange:

HH: Now numerous, do you think, are the hard core jihadis, who would, if they could, strike at Americans or Westerners generally, with the intent to kill as many as they could? How many of them do you think there are?

EJD: I don’t…I guess I’d try to make a preface of not answering questions where I honestly cannot put a number on them.

HH: How about a scale, though? Is it more than 10,000? Is it more than 100,000?

EJD: I honestly don’t…I don’t know how you count this. I also don’t know how you count people, how many sympathizers are there, how many people would actively be willing to engage in suicide attacks. I don’t know the answer to the question.

I welcome via e-mail or the comments and refernces to serious estimates of the number of jihadists willing to die for their cause.  Everyone’s got an opinion –I’d like some serious analysis of the scale of the threat.  BTW: It is hard to imagine how the U.S. invasion of Iraq led to the cells in Morocco and Algeria, though I suspect some in the anti-war movement will find a way to blame us.


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