Hoekstra: Surge in Al-Qaida is Very Concerning

Thursday, 01 May 2014 05:14 PM

By Courtney Coren

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The United States should be very concerned about the recent report from the State Department about the surge in al-Qaida affiliates and other terrorist groups in recent years, Pete Hoekstra, former House Intelligence Committee chairman, says.

"When you see a 40 percent uptick in the number of attacks from 2012 to 2013, that's an indicator that's going in the wrong direction," Hoekstra told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV. "When you see that there were over 17,000 people who were killed as a result of terrorist activities, that's something to be concerned about. These numbers are not encouraging."

Hoekstra says it also goes against the narrative pushed by President Barack Obama and his campaign during the 2012 presidential election that "al-Qaida's on the run."

"In reality, as we have weakened the core al-Qaida, that's a distinction without meaning because if you're a radical jihadist, you don't care whether you're core al-Qaida or you're one of the affiliates," he explained.

Story continues below video.

Hoekstra argues that the terrorist surge isn't caused by fighting the terrorists but by a weak foreign policy.

"It's not confronting al-Qaida that creates the opportunities for these organizations to spring up and have an impact," he said. "They thrive where there are weak governments and where they are not threatened."

Besides the "jihadist tendencies throughout northern Africa" such as in Libya, which is "now a vulnerability for the southern part of Europe," the other place Hoekstra says he is concerned about is Syria "because Syria has become a magnet for jihadist fighters."

And he says this is the case on both sides of the civil war underway there, and he is especially cautious of what's going to happen after the conflict in Syria is over and the al-Qaida fighters there "return home."

"They're going have have experienced war, they're going to have experienced killing, they're going to have developed their skills, they're going to be able to travel back to their countries, and take the ideology and the capabilities that they've learned with them."

In addition to northern Africa and Syria, Yemen is also fertile ground for an al-Qaida surge.

"Because Yemen is the organization that has the strongest commitment and some of the best capabilities to target American specifically," he explained.

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