News / Middle East

Experts Fear Mounting Al-Qaida Resurgence

FILE - Handcuffed al-Qaida-linked suspects sit in the terrorist combat and organized crime department in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 2, 2010.
FILE - Handcuffed al-Qaida-linked suspects sit in the terrorist combat and organized crime department in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 2, 2010.
TEXT SIZE - +
More than two and a half years after the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, American experts and counter-terrorism officials say his organization remains a major threat across the Middle East and North Africa. 
 
That assessment comes as several recent news reports say U.S. lawmakers and American intelligence officials are expressing growing concerns over al-Qaida's expanding manpower, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.  
 
James Mattis is no stranger to al-Qaida, having led the U.S. Marines in Iraq and later overseen U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan as the general in charge of the United States Central Command.
 
Now retired, he remains anxious about the course of the struggle against al-Qaida.
 
“Violent jihad, al-Qaida in particular is growing in adherence right now. It is not shrinking," he said recently. "It is actually gaining ground and they are exploiting new opportunities"
 
Mattis spoke at a terrorism conference in Washington in December sponsored by the U.S.-based think tank the Jamestown Foundation. He said the West is failing to understand al-Qaida and as a result has not been able to fashion an effective operational and propaganda strategy to defeat the terror organization.
 
“Certainly our efforts to date have not been sufficient. We defend today more than a geographic realm; we defend a realm of ideas," Mattis said. "For us in the West they grew out of the Enlightenment and they have to do with freedom and the dignity of the individual and a whole lot of things like that.
 
"Since Tony Blair left office I don’t know that we have had any Western politician able to stand up and to explain the nobility of what we are trying to keep alive in terms of our civilization’s values,” he added.
 
Growing concerns
 
Mattis isn’t the only one dismayed by the resurgence in jihadist activity during 2013. 
 
While many of Bin Laden's top lieutenants may now be dead, killed by U.S. Special Forces or in drone strikes, jihadist groups in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and West Africa were able to mount several major perorations over the past year.
 
In 2013, jihadists inspired by or linked to al-Qaida stormed a shopping mall in Kenya killing at least 72, invaded a natural gas facility in Algeria and executed 39 hostages.
 
Al-Qaida attacks are on the rise once again in Iraq. In Egypt’s Sinai desert, experts fear homegrown militant groups may be edging closer to a formal affiliation with al-Qaida. 
 
And jihadists have emerged as the most powerful force in the ranks of rebels in Syria fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad. 
 
Influence in Syria
 
In northeast Syria, Giwan Ibrahim, a top Kurdish commander who has been battling al-Qaida affiliated fighters said jihadists are having success in worldwide recruiting. Many of the jihadists he battles aren’t Syrian-born.  
 
“Ninety percent of them are from foreign countries. They are not from Syria: most of them from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya," he said. "I saw by my eyes people from European countries they were members of al-Qaida and fighting us.” 
 
Ibrahim said it is hard to counter jihadists because of their psychology. 
 
“He has got nothing in his mind apart from destruction and to go to heaven. That makes the mission for him easier than for us,” he said.
 

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
January 04, 2014 7:54 AM
Take it to hell and hide it.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 04, 2014 7:28 AM
What is the difference between the rule by al qaida and that of an islamic republican government? All of them want extreme islamic law or sharia. From Riyadh to Tehran, from Libya to Turkey, from Morocco to Sudan, Kenya to Ethiopia, to the Gulf States and Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan - it is the same thing all over - restriction to human rights and liberties, strict adherence to islamic and barbaric jungle justice system last seen on this planet in the Stone, Dark and Middle Ages. Mr. Barack Obama was being extra gratuitous with his contribution to islamism when he pulled out the US army from Iraq, whether he knew this was going to be the fall out of it or not is another story for another day. But whether or not the conflicting news from Falujah - I can still remember how the American army wrestled the territory from islamist fighters during the campaign - is true, the world and USA in particular will hold Barack Obama accountable for that inauspicious decision to pull out US forces from Iraq when its security apparatus had not stabilized, thereby leaving it in the lurch. That hurry to return the country to al qaida just means one thing; somebody somewhere may have been insidiously sympathetic to the cause of al qaida in Iraq. The whole gain of the campaign have been wished away by the caprice of one man, and the lives lost in this campaign have been a colossal mistake, no thanks to Obama – Mr. know all.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid