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Muslims in Middle East, Asia think poorly of Al Qaeda, poll finds

April 30, 2012 | 12:46 pm

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A new poll covering thousands of Muslims in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon found that most thought poorly of Al Qaeda nearly a year after Osama bin Laden's death.

The results came just after U.S. intelligence officials announced that the terrorist group has been greatly diminished since the death of Bin Laden, suggesting that Al Qaeda has been losing Muslim hearts and minds along with organizational muscle.

The Pew Research Center poll, carried out nearly one year after Bin Laden was killed by American forces on May 2, showed that in the countries surveyed, Al Qaeda was most popular in Egypt, where more than 1 out of 5 Muslims said they had a favorable opinion.

Yet even in Egypt, 71% of those surveyed said they disliked the group. In Jordan, only 15% of Muslims surveyed said they had a favorable opinion of the group; in Pakistan, 13%; in Turkey, 6%; and in Lebanon, 2%.

Pew based its findings on face-to-face interviews with more than 900 Muslim adults in each country, except Lebanon, where 566 people were interviewed. The results were part of a larger survey of more than 1,000 people in each of the selected countries between March 19 and April 13.

In past surveys, Pew found that confidence in Bin Laden to do the right thing had plummeted before his death. In Jordan, those numbers fell from 61% to 24% between 2005 and 2006, likely reduced by Al Qaeda suicide attacks in Amman, the Jordanian capital. By last year, only 13% of Jordanian Muslims were confident in Bin Laden.

His support level also fell markedly in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories from 2003 to 2011. But even with his popularity dropping, his backing remained significant in some areas: More than a third of Muslims polled in the Palestinian territories in 2011 said they had confidence in Bin Laden.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Pakistanis in February watch demolition of the compound where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was slain last year in the town of Abbottabad. Credit: Aamir Qureshi / AFP/Getty Images

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