Osama bin Laden, towards the last phase of his life, had considered to change the name of al Qaeda because of the bad image it developed over the years and with Muslims losing faith in the outfit, a top US official said on Monday.
"So damaged is al Qaeda's image that bin Laden even considered changing its name. And one of the reasons. As bin Laden said himself, US officials have largely stopped using the phrase 'the war on terror' in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims," Deputy National Security Adviser to US President Barack Obama, John Brennan told a think-tank hare.
"Simply calling them al Qaeda, bin Laden said, reduces the feeling of Muslims that we belong to them. To which I would add, that is because al Qaeda does not belong to Muslims. al Qaeda is the antithesis of the peace, tolerance and humanity that is at the heart of Islam," Brennan said.
More broadly, Brennan said, al Qaeda's killing of innocents—mostly Muslim men, women and children has badly tarnished its image and appeal in the eyes of Muslims around the world.
"Even bin Laden and his lieutenants knew this. His propagandist, Adam Gadahn, admitted that they were now seen as a group that does not hesitate to take people's money by falsehood, detonating mosques, (and) spilling the blood of scores of people."
Bin Laden agreed that "a large portion" of Muslims around the world "have lost their trust" in al Qaeda, Brennan said.
In his major speech on counter-terrorism, Brennan said despite the great progress US has made against al Qaeda, it would be a mistake to believe this threat has passed.
"Al Qaeda and its associated forces still have the intent to attack the US. And we have seen lone individuals, including American citizens—often inspired by al Qaeda's murderous ideology—kill innocent Americans and seek to do us harm," he said.
"Still, the damage that has been inflicted on the leadership core in Pakistan, combined with how al Qaeda has alienated itself from so much of the world, allows us to look forward. Indeed, if the decade before 9/11 was the time of al Qaeda's rise, and the decade after 9/11 was the time of its decline, then I believe this decade will be the one that sees its demise," Brennan said.