March 20, 2014 | Quote
Al Qaeda Core: A Short History
Ever since launching the war on terror in 2001, the United States has struggled to define — let alone defeat — what has proved to be a maddeningly amorphous enemy. Al Qaeda, once a relatively defined and hierarchical group, has metastasized into a multinational movement with franchise operations in at least 16 countries, from Mali to Syria, Yemen to Nigeria. These so-called affiliates have largely replaced the Pakistan-based mothership — now known as “al Qaeda core” or “al Qaeda central” — as the driving force of global jihad. That distinction, between the original terrorist group and its offshoots, has recently grown in political significance as U.S. President Barack Obama touts his decimation of al Qaeda's “core leadership” — even if each new start-up renders that victory less and less reassuring.
Zawahiri promotes AQAP chief Wuhayshi to the No. 2 position in al Qaeda's core and orders him to carry out an attack, triggering the closure of 22 U.S. embassies across the Muslim world. The promotion “discredits the widespread claim that al Qaeda's 'core' is based solely in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area,” notes the Long War Journal.