• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Al-Qaeda Threat Fractured, Not Gone

    A recent assessment by senior U.S. intelligence officials shows that while the current threat associated to al-Qaeda central—i.e., Ayman al-Zawahiri and his immediate acolytes—has significantly diminished, the threat nonetheless remains.

    Richard Cardillo, an official with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, argues that a high-impact terrorist event emanating from al-Qaeda central is “unlikely in the next year.”

    While it is true that al-Qaeda central and its radical ideologies, as represented by Osama bin Laden and manifest in the tragic events of September 11, has been fractured, in many ways this phenomenon has led to the diffusion of such ideologies.

    Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and other regional proponents of Islamism have been the natural outgrowth resulting from the constant pressure levied on al-Qaeda central and the regions in which it previously operated with relative impunity.

    While U.S. counterterrorism efforts have no doubt hampered the ability of al-Qaeda central or its regional affiliates from launching a sophisticated attack against the U.S., it is important for both the U.S. counterterrorism community as well as the public at large to resist the temptation to rest on their laurels.

    Heritage’s own James Carafano opines, “What happens if [counterterrorism] pressure goes off in Afghanistan and Taliban come back? There is a bit of rosy scenario going on here, I think—not inaccurate, just incomplete.”

    One area where there remains a distinct threat is with the lone-wolf terrorist. The ongoing trial of Oslo spree killer Anders Breivik, who murdered over 70 people in a protracted shooting spree last year, reminds the world of the devastation that one deranged individual can perpetrate upon society.

    The more recent example of Islamist Mohammad Merah, who spent a week terrorizing the French suburb of Toulouse before being killed by police, illustrates that while al-Qaeda central may be fractured and its leadership on the run, the Islamist narrative still resonates among a disparate and often unidentified population.

    Vigilance remains the greatest hedge against terrorism. There are no permanent victories in the battle against radical ideologies and violent extremism. While we should no doubt appreciate the positive outcomes associated to our nation’s concerted counterterrorism efforts, we should not allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    One Response to Al-Qaeda Threat Fractured, Not Gone

    1. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      It would be like declaring victory in World War II after we killed Isoroku Yamamoto.

    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.

    ×