Seventeen Years after Its Attack on the World Trade Center, Al-Qaeda Is Still Very Much Alive

Sept. 14 2018

While improved American counterterrorism efforts have made attacks on the U.S. much less likely, and the killing of key figures—most importantly, Osama bin Laden—has severely disrupted al-Qaeda, the organization is far from extinguished. Crucial to its continued success are its relations with Iran and the Taliban, as Thomas Joscelyn writes:

When we look at the organization as a whole, it quickly becomes apparent that al-Qaeda has many thousands of men around the globe. Indeed, al-Qaeda is waging jihad in far more countries today than it was on 9/11, with loyalists fighting everywhere from West Africa, through North and East Africa, into the heart of the Middle East and into South Asia. . . .

The Obama administration’s Treasury and State Departments revealed in 2011 that al-Qaeda’s Iran-based network serves as the organization’s “core pipeline through which” it “moves money, facilitators, and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia.” This pipeline operates under an “agreement” between al-Qaeda and the Iranian government. In the years since the Obama administration first exposed this “secret deal,” the U.S. government has revealed additional details about other al-Qaeda leaders operating inside Iran, including “new-generation” figures who were groomed to replace their fallen comrades. . . .

Al-Qaeda [also] continues to have a significant presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and some senior managers are operating in those two countries. One of the principal reasons the group has been able to weather the America-led counterterrorism storm in South Asia is its relationship with the Taliban. This is perhaps the most underestimated aspect of al-Qaeda’s operations. . . .

The U.S. and its allies have failed to defeat al-Qaeda. The organization has survived multiple challenges. . . . From Afghanistan to West Africa, al-Qaeda loyalists are attempting to build their own caliphate. . . . Al-Qaeda’s leadership has [meanwhile] deprioritized professional attacks on the West. The group hasn’t attempted to carry out a mass casualty attack in the U.S. or Europe in years. But that could change at any time. It would then be up to America’s and Europe’s formidable defenses to stop them.

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More about: 9/11, Al Qaeda, Iran, Osama bin Laden, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

Iran Is Back on Israel’s Doorstep

Feb. 15 2019

On Monday, the IDF shelled Iranian-linked targets—most likely held by Hizballah—in the Quneitra province, which lies in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. There can thus be little doubt that the Islamic Republic has positioned its proxies in deadly proximity to Israel’s borders. Yossi Yehoshua comments:

Hizballah is trying to entrench itself in Syria now that Bashar al-Assad has reclaimed the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, precisely as it did in 2014 and 2015, [before Syrian rebels retook the area]. This was when one of the terror organization’s more prominent members, Jihad Mughniyeh, was appointed by Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to be in charge of the Golan Heights area and of planning terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Mughniyeh was killed in a 2015 airstrike attributed to Israel. . . .

In addition, an increase in the number of incidents along the Syrian border was noted over the past two months, with the Israeli strikes in Syria . . . meant to signal to the enemy that it is best not cross any red lines. This is similar to the message Jerusalem conveyed to Iran when it [previously] attempted to entrench itself in [this part of] Syria and was pushed out of there after a series of Israeli airstrikes.

Unlike the situation of four years ago, Iran now has a real presence along the Syrian border, while Hizballah is working to resume its confrontations with Israel. And since the organization is up to its neck in domestic problems and thus cannot allow itself to face Israel on the Lebanese front, it finds Syria to be a more comfortable staging ground from which to take on the Jewish state.

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More about: Golan Heights, Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syria