Washington, Nov 21 : Terror outfit al Qaeda could soon be on the decline, having alienated Muslim supporters with indiscriminate killing and inattention to the practical problems of poverty, unemployment and education, according to a new study by American intelligence.
The Global Trends reports, produced every four years by the National Intelligence Council, represents all 16 American intelligence agencies, in part to inform long-term thinking by new administrations, The New York Times reported.
The reports project various possible sequences of events in the future; the new publication notes, between dire forecasts, that "bad outcomes are not inevitable."
While not contradicting intelligence assessments suggesting that al Qaeda remains a major threat with a strong presence in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the report says that the group "may decay sooner" than many experts have assumed because of severe weaknesses: "unachievable strategic objectives, inability to attract broad-based support and self-destructive actions."
"The appeal of terrorism is waning," said Mathew J. Burrows, head of long-range analysis in the office of the director of national intelligence and a lead author of "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World."
Burrows said polls and anecdotal evidence strongly suggested disillusionment among Muslims with al Qaeda and its methods and goals since the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Even if al Qaeda and other terrorist groups gradually lose support, the remaining violent extremists may have access to increasingly lethal technology, including biological weapons, the report found.
The comments on al Qaeda's future are based in part on the work of David C. Rapoport, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied the cycles of terrorist activity in the past, including those associated with anarchism, Marxism and nationalism.
The report said the global Islamic terrorist movement was likely to outlast al Qaeda itself, with other groups likely to emerge and supplant it. But it expects a future of frustration and attrition for Al Qaeda, which Osama bin Laden built during the 1990s.