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.
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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More