Al-Qaeda: Vanquished or Strengthened?

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University) Yoram Schweitzer and Aviad Mendelbaum - While over the last year senior figures in the U.S. administration embraced optimistic assessments that al-Qaeda is close to elimination, last week the pendulum swung the other way and pointed to a strengthened al-Qaeda, which in conjunction with its affiliates presents a multi-tentacle octopus-like creature capable of carrying out simultaneous, multi-victim terrorist attacks throughout the world. In their quest for survival and even rejuvenation, the leaders of al-Qaeda and its affiliates chose to adopt the Arab Spring in order to turn it into an Islamic Spring. They exploited the growing instability to secure the release of their operatives from jail, amass arms, and deploy in regions with weak governments. Thus al-Qaeda was prepared to assist Salafist and jihadist organizations in the Maghreb, Sahel, North and Central Africa, Sinai, and recently also in Syria. Thousands of new volunteers are streaming to these battlefields, accruing combat experience and becoming more fervent in their global jihad commitment. For al-Qaeda and affiliates, these are manpower reserves, ready to embark on a new wave of global terrorism. For Israel, there is major significance to the success of stopping the attempts of al-Qaeda and affiliates from returning to large-scale terrorist activity. Abroad, Israeli and Jewish targets are particularly attractive to global jihadists. Near Israel's border with Syria, global jihadists are fighting the Assad regime, waiting for a lull and the opportunity to operate against Israel. Thus Israel is an important contributing partner to the campaign against global jihad.

2013-08-16 00:00:00

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