May 21, 2014 | The Telegraph
Al Qaeda ‘Not Defeated’ In Afghanistan
Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said Osama bin Laden’s heirs had successfully hidden their strength as they spread their influence throughout the Middle East.
As a result, Afghanistan risks becoming a terrorist haven once again when Nato-led combat troops leave the country this year.
His evidence contradicts repeated claims that the movement had been “decimated” – particularly in Afghanistan – and Barack Obama’s public assessment earlier this year that its current leaders were junior varsity basketball players dressed up as superstars of the NBA after replacing senior commanders killed in drone strikes or other actions.
“Part of the reason these assessments have been flawed is that al-Qaeda has a ‘deep bench’ to draw from, both from within its own organisation and allied groups,” said Mr Joscelyn, pointing out the secrecy of the movement’s structure and personnel.
“Al-Qaeda is constantly in the process of recruiting new talent as well.”
Mr Joscelyn added that al-Qaeda’s clandestine networks in Afghanistan included the Lashkar al Zil, or shadow army, a paramilitary fighting force, as well as a Pakistan-based terrorist groups, such as the Pakistan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
“Still, consistent reporting shows that al-Qaeda's commanders and fighters are pooling their resources with other organisations,” he said. “Al-Qaeda also operates an electronics workshop, headquartered in Pakistan, that develops improvised explosive devices and other weapons for use in Afghanistan.”