It’s true! Al-Qaeda IS on the run…and it’s spreading like wildfire

Last week, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee held a hearing provocatively titled “Is Al-Qaeda Winning?” The answers that the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Nonproliferation received were profoundly unsettling.

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Heritage  Al-Qaeda has made a comeback in Iraqand gained followers in Egypt, LibyaMaliEast Africa, and Yemen.

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Former Senator Joseph Lieberman (I–Conn.) testified that Syria had become a key focal point of al-Qaeda’s efforts. He noted that there are more foreign militants fighting in Syria today than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over the past 10 years:  “Put very bluntly, Syria has become the most dangerous terrorist sanctuary in the world today—and the United States has not coherent or credible policy for dealing with it.”

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Frederick Kagan, director of the critical threats project at the American Enterprise Institute, warned that the Obama Administration has underestimated the threat posed by al-Qaeda’s ideology, which has inspired a global insurgency.

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He assessed that al-Qaeda’s “brand is spreading like wildfire, the groups affiliating themselves with it control more fighters, land and wealth than they ever have, and they are opening up new fronts.”

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Heritage Foundation analysts long have warned about the more permissive environment that al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups have exploited in many countries destabilized by the “Arab Spring” uprisings.  Syria, in particular, has been a magnet for foreign militants and a rich recruiting ground for al-Qaeda.

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The chief takeaway from the hearing was that the Obama Administration needs to focus more on the revolutionary threat posed by al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the Middle East and Africa. Furthermore, the administration should alter its narrow definition of the al-Qaeda threat, which it currently holds as the immediate terrorist threat posed by the al-Qaeda core group based in Pakistan.