Agence France Presse

Kuala Lumpur, May 31:

The Al Qaeda network is winning the global war on terror, while America’s use of overwhelming force against Muslim extremists is creating a sea of hatred and is strategically flawed, Asian analysts said today. They were speaking at a three-day Asia-Pacific Roundtable on security organised by Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), which drew some 100 international participants. Muslim-majority Malaysia has been sharply critical of the US invasion of Iraq, while pledging its full support for efforts to curb Islamic terrorism.

ISIS director-general Mohamed Jawhar Hassan said that even though Al Qaeda had lost some of its traditional bases in Afghanistan, the terror group’s top leadership remained intact and its ability to wreak havoc remained as strong as ever. “The US-led international battle is losing while the Al Qaeda-led international network is winning,” Mohamed said. The director of Singapore’s Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Barry Desker, said Al Qaeda remained resilient and the use of force could not eliminate terror threats.

“The response cannot be a military one. This is fundamentally a US error,” he said, adding that the US-led war on Iraq and subsequent occupation had driven Islamic militants to wage jihad, or holy war, against Washington. “Iraq is seen as the epicentre of jihad,” he said, adding Al Qaeda was propagating the view that the US occupation was the manifestation of an evil scheme to dissolve Islamic identity.

Noordin Sopiee, Malaysia’s ISIS chairman, said the world was losing the war on terror because “we have expanded the sea of hatred and expanded the reservoir of deep-seated rage (in the Muslim world)”. Stanley Roth, Boeing’s vice-president for Asia international relations, said the threat of terror existed in every region and “the war has not been won”.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is due to make the keynote address to the conference tomorrow.