January 15, 2015 | Quote

Al Qaeda Is Back In A Big Way

“From Al Qaeda Central's perspective, AQAP is sort of the special branch and the one most capable of mounting outside attacks,” Brookings Institution fellow Will McCants told Business Insider.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, agrees that the group is better suited towards outside attacks than other Al Qaeda affiliates.

“AQAP has had more external operations capabilities, and has had the most external operations capabilities of any AQ affiliate for some time,” says Gartenstein-Ross. “Part of it could be that AQAP has a green light to carry out attacks and other affiliates don't.”

This doesn't mean that AQAP's claim of responsibility for the attack in Paris is airtight. But it could still draw attention to Al Qaeda central's successful reconstitution of itself within Yemen's political and social vacuum.

“It's clear that a lot of core leadership has made it way to Yemen and is part of AQAP,” says Gartenstein-Ross.

And they're still major players in the global jihadist scene, able to claim a concrete link to a major attack on Western soil.

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Al Qaeda