• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Osama's Dead, but Terrorism Isn't

    Osama bin Laden was disposed of last April, but al-Qaeda’s intention to commit acts of terrorism against the U.S. and its allies is undeterred. In his testimony this week to the joint congressional intelligence hearing, CIA director David Petraeus warned, “Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, the United States continues to face a serious threat from al Qaeda and its worldwide affiliates and sympathizers.”

    Al-Qaeda’s top operatives may be dead and its core weakened, but the organization is finding strength in its African affiliates. According to U.S. Africa Command head General Carter Ham, al-Shabaab in Somalia, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Boko Haram in Nigeria are seeking closer cooperation in waging attacks against the countries in which they operate, the region, and the U.S.

    In the past, al-Shabaab, Somalia’s al-Qaeda affiliate, focused its attacks against the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union’s AMISOM peacekeeping force. However, in July 2010, al-Shabaab committed its first transnational attack, with two bombings in Kampala, Uganda, where crowds gathered to watch the FIFA World Cup. Uganda was targeted because of its contributions to AMISOM.

    Neighboring countries were also put on notice. Al-Shabaab poses a significant threat to the U.S. as it has become adept at recruiting fighters from the diaspora community. In many cases, members of the diaspora have the flexibility to travel as they possess American or European passports, thereby increasing the opportunities for al-Shabaab to infiltrate the homeland.

    An al-Qaeda affiliate that is believed to be in regular contact with al-Shabaab is AQIM. Emerging during the Algerian war in the 1990s, AQIM was originally called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. Only five years ago did the organization declare allegiance to al-Qaeda and emerge under its new name. Operating in Niger, Mali, and Algeria, AQIM is known for recruiting by force and taking hostages for ransom. Militants are active in waging attacks throughout the region, including its most recent suicide bombing on an Algerian military academy.

    AQIM’s operations have expanded in its affiliation with the Nigerian Islamic insurgency, Boko Haram (translation: “Western education is sin”). Created in 2002 by the radical cleric Mohammad Yusuf, Boko Haram didn’t use violence in its attempts to overthrow the Nigerian government. It wasn’t until Yusuf was killed in a violent crackdown by the Nigerian army that Boko Haram quickly expanded its operations.

    After waging attacks against the Nigerian government for several years, Boko Haram took responsibility last month for its first international attack against U.N. headquarters in the capital city of Abuja. The attack by the once-obscure sect caught the foreign public off guard and alerted the international community to the sect’s growing capabilities. Just weeks before the attack on the U.N., General Ham voiced concern regarding Boko Haram’s affiliation with AQIM: “I think it would be the most dangerous thing to happen not only to the Africans, but to us [the U.S.] as well.”

    Analysis by the U.S. Department of Defense has also shown that the bomb that detonated at the U.N. headquarters showed similar characteristics to the improvised explosives used by AQIM. Furthermore, Boko Haram fighters are known to travel regularly to Chad, Mali, and Somalia for training.

    Despite Africa’s emergence as a terrorist hotbed, U.S. military presence on the continent is small, with AFRICOM forces often limited to diplomatic and development initiatives. According to General Ham, AFRICOM seeks “to enable African solutions to African security challenges.”

    Encouraging African nations to effectively address emerging terrorist threats, AFRICOM takes an active role in training African militaries and security forces. Training exercises often focus on professionalism in addition to training in counterterrorism. Mali and Mauritania are just two African nations that benefit from Western military training.

    Africa has long been a potential haven for terrorist activity. The continent’s weak governance structure, combined with high levels of poverty, poor development and a burgeoning youth population outraged by the few opportunities available to them, provide conditions attractive to terrorist organizations. Independently, these organizations are threats to the countries where they operate and to the region. Combined, they are capable of generating the capabilities to wage attacks against the U.S. and the international community.

     

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Osama's Dead, but Terrorism Isn't

    1. Bobbie says:

      Unless he's a head vampire, Osama's death was nothing but propaganda. Like everyone will stop their deranged mindset cause Osama's not around to encourage it? Hopefully something will break into inspire parents to love their children and not sell them into training suicide and killing camps. Too bad those in training have no self respect for the lives their moms and dads actions gave them! or maybe that's the only reason their parents have them? Bet they'd have a lot more fun living for themselves and getting to know other lives on their own instead of playing on the hatred they're fed while not shown to be true!
      the mind is a terrible thing to waste!

    2. Bobby says:

      Let's stop calling it a war on terror and call it a war on radical Islam. We need to know the enemy were fighting and politically correct terms don't help.

      • jweb says:

        Bobby…war on poverty, war on drugs, war on terror, global warming, food shortages, inflation…military industiral complex, big pharma, UN resolutions, loss of liberty, the establishment of revised social, political, medical, economical, educational boundaries and mandates…my friends, the new order is in full swing, and they are running out of time. They are getting older, and the American middle class (their primary enemy) is waking up. Come out from among them.

      • James Burnham says:

        I agree!

        TEA! Fair Tax!

    3. jweb says:

      The global power brokers have pitted radical Islam against free America, and free America against them. Meanwhile, everyone is distracted with fighting amongst themselves, nobody notices the robbery taking place. The loss of property, homes, investments, liberties, national sovereignty, jobs, paper money, broken families, increased personal debt, etc. Who started Al-qaeda? Who are the Libyan rebels? You honestly believe that some cave-dwelling Arabs out-smarted the CIA, FBI, NSA, MI6, and Masad on 9/11? What started WWI? Was it not the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand? And what did we do when JFK or William McKinley was shot? We need to stop "going to the movies", and like Bobby said, call things for what they are. Our government has been taken hostage, and they are using us, our military, and our influence to propel their foreign interests.

      It's not about right vs. left or republican vs. democrat. It's about liberty vs. tyranny.

    4. jweb says:

      Testing…Heritage likes to delete/not accept my relevant posts…even the ones where founders are quoted.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×