August 7, 2013 | Quote

Global Terror Alert Runs Counter to US Portrayal of Weakened al-Qaida

The Obama administration’s sweeping response to an alleged al-Qaida plot — closing diplomatic posts in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia — suggests a terrorist organization that’s capable of striking virtually anywhere, not the one U.S. officials have depicted as a group that’s near defeat.

Counterterrorism analysts said Monday that the U.S. government’s global response to a threat emanating from Yemen, home to al-Qaida’s most active affiliate, was at odds with how dismissive President Barack Obama was in a speech in May, when he said that “not every collection of thugs that labels themselves as al-Qaida will pose a credible threat to the United States.”

That was only one of a series of public statements by Obama and his Cabinet members that played down the capabilities of al-Qaida-linked groups. For at least the past two years, the administration has sought to reassure Americans that al-Qaida is “on the run,” while counterterrorism experts were warning about the semiautonomous affiliates that have wreaked havoc in North Africa, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

“The actions the administration is taking now are deeply inconsistent with the portrait of al-Qaida strength the administration has been painting,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism specialist at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington research institute.

U.S. officials have been secretive about what precise information led to the worldwide travel advisory and embassy closings, but a Yemeni official told McClatchy on Sunday that authorities had intercepted “clear orders” from al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of the affiliate in Yemen, to carry out an attack as early as Aug. 4.

 

Issues:

Al Qaeda