Growing number of US officials believe al-Qaeda is finished

Al-Qaeda propaganda videoBy IAN ALLEN | |
An increasing number of government officials in the United States believe that al-Qaeda is no longer a serious threat to the homeland and are turning their attention to the next chapter of America’s security posture. Citing American defense and intelligence insiders, The Los Angeles Times claims that the militant Islamist group has been virtually decimated following more than a decade of relentless pursuit by Washington. So extensive is al-Qaeda’s operational devastation, they say, that US intelligence agencies can no longer discern any meaningful operational structure at the group’s core. Aside from its reputed leader, Egyptian physician Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a handful of others, no senior al-Qaeda lieutenant is believed to be alive. For over four years, the group’s commanders have been killed by the Central Intelligence Agency almost as soon as they have been identified, claims the paper. Al-Qaeda’s collapsing structure has led to an inevitable process of decentralization, which has rendered its surviving senior leadership virtually irrelevant to the global Islamist movement. Instead, a host of al-Qaeda-inspired factions have assumed the role of torchbearer, operating in far-flung locations such as Iraq, Syria, Mali, Yemen and Somalia. However, says The Times, these groups are motivated by strictly local issues and have neither the ability nor the will to mount large-scale attacks on American targets. The article quotes former US Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Rosa Brooks as saying: “to the best of our information, there is nobody out there with both the desire and the capabilities to cause any serious damage to the US in any way at this moment”. As a result, US intelligence agencies, led by the CIA, have scaled back their covert-action programs against al-Qaeda, including so-called ‘signature strikes’ by unmanned drones. As the CIA is faced with calls to limit its covert-action programs and return to traditional intelligence collection, many American officials are turning their attention to the next chapter in Washington’s security posture. Speaking to The Times, one former official, Shawn Brimley, who until 2012 was Director for Strategic Planning at the US National Security Council, poses the question: “what does a sustainable counter-terrorism policy look like for the next phase?”. One possible answer was provided a few days ago by the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, who told Congress that attention should now be turned to “lone wolves [and] domestic extremists” inside the United States.

15 Responses to Growing number of US officials believe al-Qaeda is finished

  1. Karl says:

    I fail to believe that taking our eyes off foreign terrorists is the answer. Yes they have been dismembered but as long as they can threaten US interests abroad we as a nation must be vigilant.

  2. Carl Clark says:

    All al – Quaeda are doing is restructuring, some of the key players have been taken out in the last 18 months, but they are far from finished, with more and more fighters flocking to their ranks every day, it only needs someone with a bit of know how to put operations back together.

  3. Paul says:

    I suspect al Qaeda is nowhere near being ‘finished.’ There’s more chance of it becoming something different in tactics than being beaten.

    I hope I’m incorrect but this looks like US smoke and mirror tactics to ensure they no longer have to be involved, then withdraw quickly to claim all the credit and leave it to others to clear up.

    There’ll probably be a Hollywood blockbuster too, featuring only US troops with no reference to all the other nations who were dragged in and did the job too.

  4. Gunnergoz says:

    al-Qaeda will never quite die out as long as there are American military forces in the predominantly Muslim regions from which it receives the most funding and recruits.

  5. Rdion says:

    Again, more proof that U.S. “Officials” don’t have a clue of what constitutes a threat

  6. Divemedic says:

    Ironic that this comes out as two bombs detonate in Boston.

  7. intelNews says:

    @Divemedic: it would be prudent not to jump to conclusions at this point. The last time an athletic event in the US was targeted by terrorists it was the so-called Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, GA. It was perpetrated by an anti-gay and anti-abortion militant. [JF]

  8. TFH says:

    Boston police have arrested and are keeping under guard at hospital a 20 years old Saudi national. Al-Qaeda link or just rounding up the usual suspects?

  9. Pete says:

    Its too early to tell whether Boston is a non-state group cell, lone-wolf, al Qaeda, US rightwing extremist(s), grudge against a partner, simple gas explosions, or whatever.

    Unfortunately – predictions that a terrorist danger no longer exists are always politically dangerous for leaders and professionally dangerous for security officials. The return of violent IRA incidents in Northern Ireland is one recent example.

    Al Qaeda is as active as it ever was given the upswing in al Qaeda activity in Syria and northern Africa and continuing bombings in Iraq.

  10. AlbertE. says:

    So if this is true it would seem that all those so called targeted killings and extraordinary renditions and enhanced interrogation techniques DID WORK? Is this what some are saying without even realizing it? Crippled and on the run and constantly looking over their shoulder and hardly able as before to conduct missions against the American homeland. So then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED? Much more than we realized perhaps?

  11. intelNews says:

    Pete, read the article carefully. Nobody is making “predictions that a terrorist danger no longer exists”. [IA]

  12. Carl Clark says:

    I have just heard about the Boston explosions terrible and my prayers go out to the families of those killed or injured, I warned intelligence analysts in the U.S through several mediums & intelnews two days ago and again, yesterday morning that the threat from al Qaeda was not over, U.S intelligence are saying that they were a spent force when in fact all they were doing was regrouping under new leadership after losing key figures I hope they start taking the threat from al Qaeda and its offshoots seriously again after this, U.S intel are also ignoring the fact that domestic terror groups in the U.S are working alongside Islamic radical groups

  13. Pete says:

    @IA yes I read it, but sorry my comment relied on the wording of the title and first sentence of the article:

    “An increasing number of government officials in the United States believe that al-Qaeda is no longer a serious threat ”



  14. TFH says:

    @AlbertE.: Consider the source of these statements, its the same apparatus that said torturing POW in this war on terror was a must.

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