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A Resurgent Al-Qaeda in Iraq Threatens U.S. Attack
Posted By James Phillips On July 26, 2012 @ 4:39 pm In Featured | Comments Disabled
Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which has staged a bloody comeback in Iraq in recent months, issued a threat  this week to strike at the “heart” of America.
On Sunday, shortly before a string of AQI attacks  killed more than 100 people, AQI leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi warned Americans: “You will soon witness how attacks will resound in the heart of your land, because our war with you has now started.”
Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee  yesterday, Mathew Olson, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, assessed the potential threat posed to the United States by AQI and noted that several associates of the terrorist group had been arrested inside the U.S. and Canada in the last two years.
Although al-Qaeda was caught off guard by the “Arab Spring” uprisings in many countries, its regional franchises  have exploited the resulting chaos and power vacuums, particularly in Yemen , Libya  and Syria . Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged  his followers to expand their operations in Syria, and an influx  of Islamist militants there has heightened concerns about Syria’s massive chemical weapons stockpile.
AQI had been severely degraded by U.S. and Iraqi security forces in an intensive counter-terrorism campaign from 2006 to 2011. But the resilient terrorist organization has revived and thrived after the withdrawal of U.S. troops in December 2011. Heritage Foundation analysts warned  repeatedly that one of the negative impacts of the abrupt U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq would be a slackening of counter-terrorism efforts against AQI.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki quickly moved against his Sunni rivals to consolidate his power after the withdrawal of U.S. troops. This aggressive political purge has further alienated Iraqi Sunni Muslims who had previously turned against AQI.
Now AQI is opportunistically exploiting Sunni–Shia tensions in Iraq and intensifying Sunni–Alawite tensions in Syria. Although its primary victims are likely to continue to be Iraqis and Syrians, it could soon pose a significant threat to the U.S. homeland as well.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/07/26/a-resurgent-al-qaeda-in-iraq-threatens-u-s-attack/
URLs in this post:
 issued a threat: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-qaeda-us-20120726,0,6632983.story
 AQI attacks: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/23/us-iraq-bomb-idUSBRE86M06M20120723
 House Homeland Security Committee: http://homeland.house.gov/hearing/full-committee-hearing-understanding-homeland-threat-landscape
 regional franchises: http://blog.heritage.org../../../../../2012/05/07/seven-terrorist-groups-affiliated-with-al-qaeda/
 Yemen: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/04/yemen-us-policy-implications-of-president-salehs-resignation-offer
 Libya: http://blog.heritage.org../../../../../2012/05/12/africas-sahel-region-spirals-into-an-extremist-hell/
 Syria: http://blog.heritage.org../../../../../2012/03/22/meet-al-nusra-another-bin-laden-wannabe-group/
 has urged: http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-evidence-of-jihadist-activity-in-syria
 an influx: http://blog.heritage.org../../../../../2012/05/25/influx-of-islamist-terrorists-boosts-concerns-over-syrias-chemical-weapons/
 warned: http://blog.heritage.org../../../../../2011/09/08/obama-administration-gambles-on-u-s-troop-strength-in-iraq/
 A Counterterrorism Strategy for the “Next Wave”: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/08/a-counterterrorism-strategy-for-the-next-wave
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