The time has come for the Obama administration to recognize that al-Qaida has grown and has a much further reach than previously acknowledged, Middle East expert Walid Phares said in an exclusive Newsmax interview.
"The claim that al-Qaida is on the run, on the path of decline, those claims basically have not been verified by a U.S. decision to shut down 22 embassies," Phares said.
The truth is, Phares explained, is that al-Qaida has grown immensely.
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"But now is a time for reality and the reality is that al-Qaida today in 2013 is much bigger, much larger, much more sophisticated and has more members, not just the center of al-Qaida but also the the branches of al-Qaida and in many countries around the world," he said in his interview with Newsmax TV.
But Phares said it is inaccurate to describe the membership rise as a resurgence: "I don't think this is a comeback as some would try to frame it. This is the ballistics of al-Qaida. It has never stopped.
"The jihadi movement has never stopped recruiting, indoctrinating. So if we do not stop the ideology because the ideology is the industry — the factory — then they're going to continue to come in waves. Younger, more sophisticated, more educated and more daring, if I may say."
And part of the problem, he adds, is that President Barack Obama's administration fails to recognize that it is in an ideological battle.
"The foundation of this administration's foreign policy and national security has been that the previous foreign policy was wrong," Phares says. "The previous foreign policy had identified an ideology so when in 2008 during the presidential campaign and again last year, the president said that this war is going down, that we are not fighting an ideology."
Phares said that the United States needs to work closely with Yemeni officials to fight the global terror network
"The Yemeni government is really confronting al-Qaida inside Yemen, but the difference with the US campaign against al-Qaida is that they would only fight al-Qaida if it's fighting them," Phares explains. "So what we need to see happening is a strategic coordination between the United States and the Yemenis as one integrated strategy against al-Qaida to get real results."
Phares is a congressional advisor and the co-secretary General of the Transatlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism. He is author of several books on terrorism including, 'The Confrontation: Winning the War Against Future Jihad.'
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