Tags: Al-Qaida | War on Terrorism | al-Qaida | report | terror | Rand

Report: Al-Qaida Threat Akin to Decades-Long Cold War

By    |   Tuesday, 23 Jul 2013 10:04 AM

Al-Qaida — for more than a decade the target of the war on terror — not only has been resilient over that period, it is growing, according to a new study by the nonprofit Rand Corp.

The study, detailed last week in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, found that while most al-Qaida-affiliated groups don't now appear to be planning attacks on American soil, the United States must be prepared to continue a calculated, long-term struggle with the terrorist organization, much as it did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

"There has been a net expansion in the number and geographic scope of al-Qaida affiliates and allies over the past decade, indicating that al-Qaida and its brand are far from defeated," Rand analyst Seth Jones told the committee.

Jones attributed this growth both to the Arab Spring uprisings — "which have weakened regimes across North Africa and the Middle East, creating an opportunity for al-Qaida affiliates and allies to secure a foothold" — and the increased sectarian fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims across the region, which "has increased the resources available to Sunni militant groups, including al-Qaida."

The growth, along with the weakness of central al-Qaida in Pakistan, "has created a more diffuse and decentralized movement," meaning local affiliates "largely run their operations autonomously, though they still communicate with the core leadership in Pakistan and may seek strategic advice," Jones said.

"In the near term, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula likely presents the most immediate threat to the U.S. homeland, along with inspired networks like the Tsarnaev brothers that perpetrated the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing," he said.

With other groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusrah in Syria, "growing recruitment and funding networks in Europe should be a cause of concern for U.S. policymakers."

Taken together, Jones wrote, "These arguments suggest that the U.S. needs to adopt an increasingly nuanced — but long-term — approach to countering the al-Qaida movement."

"Perhaps most importantly," he said, "U.S. policymakers should view the al-Qaida threat as a decades-long struggle like the Cold War."


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Al-Qaida — for more than a decade the target of the war on terror — not only has been resilient over that period, it is growing, according to a new study by the nonprofit Rand Corp.
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Tuesday, 23 Jul 2013 10:04 AM
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