Although al Qaeda’s core has weakened, the terrorist group remains a top threat to U.S. security, according to the State Department’s annual terrorism report.
While the deaths of Osama bin Laden and other leaders assisted in aiding al Qaeda’s decline, the Arab Awakening helped the group exploit these newly unstable countries. The report said al Qaeda’s affiliates “have shown resilience [and] retain the capability to conduct regional and transnational attacks.”
Al Qaeda’s influence is spreading to affiliated groups around the world. “Among these al-Qaida affiliates, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) represents a particularly serious threat,” the survey of terrorism worldwide warned. Terrorist presence in North and East Africa is also a growing concern.
Seth Jones recently wrote in the Washington Post, “The United States and its allies should consider opening a second front in the Syrian war. In addition to helping end Bashar Assad's rule, there is a growing need to conduct a covert campaign against al Qaeda and other extremist groups gaining a presence in the country.”
OutFront tonight: Seth Jones, RAND political scientist and author of Hunting in the Shadows: The pursuit of al Qa'ida after 9/11.
State Dept: As core weakens, al Qaeda affiliates are top terror threat
While the killings of Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda operatives have weakened the terror network, the rise of groups affiliated al Qaeda in the Middle East and Africa presents a serious threat to U.S. security, the State Department's annual terrorism report warns.
"As al-Qaida's core has gotten weaker, we have seen the rise of affiliated groups around the world. Among these al-Qaida affiliates, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) represents a particularly serious threat," the survey of terrorism worldwide warned.
The overview of terrorism and terrorist groups around the world found that bin Laden's death last year in a raid on his compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, by U.S. Navy Seals, coupled with the killing of top al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, "puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse." The report says the June death of Iyas Kashmiri and the August killing of Atiya Abdul Rahman, al Qaeda's second-in-command after bin Laden's death, are among the top blows dealt to the organization in Pakistan.
But it warns that "despite blows in western Pakistan, al-Qaida, its affiliates, and its adherents remain adaptable. They have shown resilience; retain the capability to conduct regional and transnational attacks; and, thus, constitute an enduring and serious threat to our national security."