Terror Expert: al-Qaida Brand Strong As Ever

Image: Terror Expert: al-Qaida Brand Strong As Ever Yemeni al-Qaida militants hold a black al-Qaida flag as the judge sentenced them to jail for plotting attacks in Yemen at the court in Sanaa on April 23.

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 04:42 PM

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent

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The al-Qaida brand continues to influence terror operations in different corners of the world even as U.S. Special Forces and drone attacks weaken its core leadership, a terror specialist told Newsmax.

“The ideology that they’ve created continues to inspire people,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terror specialist at Georgetown University. “The spread of franchises is indicative of the fact that the brand of al-Qaida today is as strong as it’s ever been.”

The organization has changed tactics and has revived or started terror franchises in Iraq, Syria, across Northern Africa, and in Nigeria. It is now more active and in more places than on Sept. 11, 2001, when it primarily operated out of a safe haven in Afghanistan, according to Hoffman.

Hoffman’s view differs from the characterization made by President Barack Obama, who declared that the terrorist organization was “on a path to defeat” seven weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized on Wednesday that, “al-Qaida, however, mocks predictions of its imminent defeat.”

“Everywhere it is active, al-Qaida seeks a sanctuary to plot the overthrow of pro-Western Muslim governments and attacks on the U.S.,” the Wall Street Journal wrote.

Another example of an al-Qaida-inspired franchise operation includes the Chechen region of Russia where one of the Boston Marathon terrorists reportedly trained.

The newspaper said that Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev may not have had direct links with al-Qaida’s offshoot in Chechnya, the Islamic Emirate in the Caucasus. But investigators are looking into it, including a Russian press report that he was seen last year with known militants in Dagestan.

“Each of the affiliates is different, though all usually have leaders who served or trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan,” says the Journal.

The gains by al-Qaida and its franchises are reversible, the paper’s editors say, and not every case will require Western military intervention. Close security relationships, good intelligence, and America’s special forces are strong weapons.

“President Obama has preferred disengagement from the Middle East and South Asia to focus on ‘nation-building at home,’” the Journal concludes. “One result is Middle East instability and the al-Qaida resurgence. To address these emerging problems, the administration first needs to acknowledge them. The tide of war, to correct President Obama’s other favorite line, isn’t receding. It’s rising.”

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