The Future of Al Qa'ida

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The Future of Al Qa'ida

Postby Spearhead Research » Thu May 26, 2011 4:50 pm


The Future of Al Qa'ida

The following is the testimony presented before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade on May 24, 2011. This report is part of the RAND Corporation testimony series. RAND testimonies record testimony presented by RAND associates to federal, state, or local legislative committees; government-appointed commissions and panels; and private review and oversight bodies. In his testimony, Seth G. Jones purports that:

The death of Osama bin Laden has triggered a re-evaluation of al Qa’ida and its threat to the United States. Some have argued that al Qa’ida will become increasingly irrelevant. “Between the Arab Spring and the death of bin Laden, it is hard to imagine greater blows to al-Qaeda’s ideology and organization,” wrote terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, noting that bin Laden was on the wrong side of history. “For al-Qaeda,” he continued, “that history just sped up, as bin Laden’s body floated down into the ocean deeps and its proper place in the unmarked grave of discarded lies.”

Yet such assessments may be too optimistic. Al Qa’ida and allied groups continue to present a grave threat to the United States and its allies overseas by overseeing and encouraging terrorist operations, managing a robust propaganda campaign, conducting training, and collecting and distributing financial assistance. Two examples illustrate the point. First, al Qa’ida operatives like Ilyas Kashmiri, who remain at large, continue to be actively involved in plots in Europe, India, and the United States. Second, there has been an increase in the number of groups outside of central al Qa’ida that have targeted the United States. On May 1, 2010, Faisal Shahzad, who was trained by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan bomb-makers, packed his Nissan Pathfinder with explosives and drove into Times Square in New York City on a congested Saturday night. Only fortune intervened, since the improvised explosive device malfunctioned. Indeed, the nature of the threat has changed and become more decentralized. In addition to central al Qa’ida (Pakistan), other threats to the U.S. homeland include Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen), Tehrik-eTaliban Pakistan (Pakistan), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (Pakistan), and potentially al Shabaab (Somalia).

Author: by Seth G. Jones

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