August 15, 2013 | Quote
Al-Qaida Still a Clear and Present Danger
A quarter of a century since it came into existence and 15 years after the al-Qaida burst on the scene with the spectacular bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the outfit continues to be the most powerful driver of global terror. The US, at the vanguard of the fight against this deadly mutating virus, has bled more than $3 trillion over 10 years trying to tame it.
Only last week, the US shut down embassies in 19 countries after it intercepted electronic chatter among the group's core leadership discussing plans for stunning terror strikes. Around the same time, Saudi Arabia arrested two obscure al-Qaida members from Yemen and Chad suspecting them of planning suicide attacks. This was apparently one of the threats that prompted the US to close its missions.
The US war on terror, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the drone programme in Pakistan and West Asia have struck deep into the al-Qaida core as we know it.
These groups have dodged drone strikes to evolve. They use the new media to coordinate strikes. They share resources and suicide attackers, build weapons, move fighters from distant countries to fight local wars. Ibrahim Al Asiri, al-Qaida's maker of the underwear bomb, is a case in point. He's believed to have created a liquid explosive gel – dip your clothes into it and they become bombs. Airport security can't sniff these IEDs.
“Al-Qaida adapted after the Arab uprisings, and was never really marginalized. It views some countries as being in a preparatory phase, where Salafi jihadist ideas can be propagated through dawa, or missionary work, as in Tunisia. Other countries are viewed as open fields of confrontation. The bottom line is that the world has changed. Al-Qaida has sought to adapt to these changes, and in many cases Western analysts were slow to discern how it was doing so.” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says.