Al Qaeda renewed
It is decentralized and dangerous

Reuters

A military personnel looks at a damaged vehicle during a tour for journalists at the scene of an al Qaeda attack on the Defence Ministry in Sanaa December 19, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • The recent crisis in Syria has driven the growth of al-Qaeda groups in that country.

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  • In Iraq, al-Qaeda has killed dozens at a time in coordinated car bombings.

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  • When the U.S. overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda lost its safe haven.

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The recent crisis in Syria has driven the growth of al Qaeda groups in that country; in Iraq, al Qaeda has killed dozens at a time in coordinated car bombings. The broad network of al-Qaeda affiliates now threatens the United States from safe havens across the Middle East and North Africa. But it is far from the same beast that attacked the U.S. in 2001: It has evolved and adapted, and is much more resilient than before.

Twelve years ago, al Qaeda was on the run. When the U.S. overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan, al Qaeda lost its safe haven. Its operatives there fled to neighboring Pakistan and Iran, and its operatives worldwide had a target on their backs as countries responded to President George W. Bush’s ultimatum that “you’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” That fight relied heavily on authoritarian regimes to crack down on al Qaeda-linked cells from Algeria to Egypt to Yemen.

This article appears in the December 31 edition of The National Review Magazine. The complete text is available through subscription only here.

 

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About the Author

 

Katherine
Zimmerman
  • Katherine Zimmerman is a senior analyst and the al Qaeda and Associated Movements Team Lead for the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. Her work has focused on al Qaeda’s affiliates in the Gulf of Aden region and associated movements in western and northern Africa. She specializes in the Yemen-based group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, al Shabaab. Katherine has testified in front of Congress and briefed Members and congressional staff, as well as members of the defense community. She has written analyses of U.S. national security interests related to the threat from the al Qaeda network for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CNN Global Public Square, and the Huffington Post, among others. Katherine graduated with distinction from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science and Modern Middle East Studies.


     


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  • Phone: (202) 828-6023
    Email: katherine.zimmerman@aei.org

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