In my opinion, one of the most critical questions after the death of Osama Bin Laden was where would donor funding to al Qaeda go after the death of the group’s leader? Last year, after Bin Laden’s death, voters (40%) forecasted that Gulf donor funds would shift to AQAP in Yemen. However, an interesting contrast occurred with ‘Private Sector’ voters, who using their experience with business and money, noted that it may instead be “Emerging Islamist Groups in North Africa amongst the Arab Spring” that receive a boost in funding. Another interesting finding from the spring of 2011 was from the week prior to Bin Laden’s death where voters believed funding would remain focused on supporting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The implication of these two forecasts appeared clear: Bin Laden was central to drawing donor support from the Gulf. For the full results of last year’s forecast, see this link.
A year later, on May 2, 2012, I asked the following question:
Since Usama Bin Laden’s death, the largest portion of Gulf donor contributions to extremism have gone to:
- al Shabaab in Somalia to create an alternate safe haven for AQ
- AQ in Iraq to counter Iraq’s Shia dominated government
- AQ in Pakistan & the Taliban in Afghanistan/Pakistan to sustain AQ Central
- AQAP in Yemen as a more viable group proximate to the Gulf
- AQIM to help them exploit North African insecurity
- Islamist groups vying for power amongst North African uprisings
Overall, ‘AQAP in Yemen’ received the most votes across the board (40%) and the majority of every professional group. After AQAP in Yemen, just under 20% of voters voters selected ‘AQ in Afghanistan and Pakistan’ and ‘Emerging Islamist Groups in North Africa’ – an interesting result that concurs with the forecasts of the ‘Private Sector’ voters last year. Essentially, voters thought the investment in an emerging al Qaeda affiliate was of equal value to backing the old original leaders of al Qaeda in Pakistan. Here are the results for each professional category across all groups surveyed. I went with raw vote totals for this graph and the vote totals and percentages for all demographics is below in a table.
In the following table, I’ve totaled the votes of each demographic for each terror affiliate and percentage of votes from each demographic breakdown selecting each terror affiliate. In green I’ve highlighted a couple demographic breakdowns where the voting pattern is slightly different and higher with regards to ‘AQAP in Yemen’.
- ‘Academia’ was more likely than the average and more likely than other professional groups to select ‘AQAP in Yemen’. ‘Academia’ was also less enthralled with ‘Emerging Islamist Groups’ than other professional groups.
- Likewise, those that chose ‘Newspapers’ as their primary information source also selected ‘AQAP in Yemen’ at a slightly higher rate than the average. This also makes me wonder if newspapers have been reporting on AQAP in Yemen more than other threats. Don’t know, just a theory.
Highlighted in yellow are lines where votes were lower than average for AQAP.
- Military voters selected ‘AQAP in Yemen’ less than any other group. In fact, ‘Military’ voters selected ‘AQAP in Yemen’, ‘AQIM in Sahel’ and ‘AQ in AFPAK’ at roughly the same rate. Maybe they know something the rest of us don’t know.