Jihadist Groups Gain in Turmoil across Middle East

(New York Times) Robert F. Worth and Eric Schmitt - American intelligence and counterterrorism officials are increasingly concerned that militants aligned with al-Qaeda could establish a base in Syria capable of threatening Israel and Europe. Foreign jihadis in Syria appear to be building to a critical mass and have overwhelmed the Western strategy of support for the moderate opposition. The new signs of an energized but fragmented jihadist threat, stretching from Mali and Libya in the west to Yemen in the east, have complicated the narrative of a weakened al-Qaeda. Across the region, a rising tide of Islamist militancy - fueled partly by sectarian violence and partly by the collapse of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - has contributed to a recent wave of attacks, including deadly bombings in Lebanon and the Sinai Peninsula as well as the daily carnage in Syria and Iraq. "To the extent that I am concerned about al-Qaeda the brand, it's that it is clearly expanding its affiliates, both in number and in some cases in capability," Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview. "The worm has turned in the Middle East in the minds of American foreign policy makers," said William McCants, an expert on jihadist movements and a former senior adviser at the State Department. "It seems we are back to counterterrorism as a guiding focus for American policy."

2013-12-04 00:00:00

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