The threat from Al Qaeda thrives on many fronts
Article RadarTHIS ARTICLE CONNECT:
Affected Countries: afghanistan;
He might not have the mystique of his father but Hamza bin Laden’s life was equally enacted in the shadows. As US intelligence reports indicated he had been killed in an airstrike, it was unclear what role the heir to Osama bin Laden had played in perpetuating his father’s ideology – only that he had vowed revenge for his death and was deemed by the US to be a “global terrorist”. To the western world, it might seem that Bin Laden’s legacy died with him in 2011.
In recent years, Al Qaeda has neither focused on western targets, nor managed to cause destruction and horror on the same scale as the September 11 attacks of 2001. Indeed, its footprint – certainly in terms of global attention – has been eclipsed by the rise and fall of ISIS, which at its height controlled vast swathes of land across Syria and Iraq and threatened to expand across the region. However, that does not mean the threat from Al Qaeda went away. It has morphed into something far more insidious and can no longer be traced to dictats issued by a single figurehead from the shadowy foothills of Afghanistan.
The death of Hamza bin Laden is a reminder that, nearly 20 years after the US declared war on terror and is still fighting in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda has yet to be wiped off the map. Despite global counter-terror efforts and competition from rival extremist groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda affiliates are still active in parts of Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. The terrorist group has become decentralised, relying on existing local groups to project strength and keep its vicious ideology alive.
The ongoing war in Yemen and Syria has provided the perfect breeding ground for it to fester. In Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has planted roots, but the the Saudi-led coalition is fighting to curb its influence. Meanwhile, Al Nusra Front – Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria – has now reformed as Hayat Tahrir Al Sham, a collective of extremists who hold sway over the country’s last rebel bastion of Idlib.
Part of Al Qaeda’s new strategy is to ally itself with local groups and infiltrate communities on the ground. This is precisely what it has done in Somalia, where its affiliate Al Shabab continues to plot brutal and deadly attacks on civilians and nurtures ambitions to expand across borders. These affiliates might operate independent of Al Qaeda’s leadership but they align themselves with its ideology and brand themselves with the same colours.
The fight against terrorism did not begin and end with the invasion of Afghanistan, nor the fall of ISIS. It has evolved into battles on numerous fronts and tackling its poisonous spread will involve concerted efforts by communities, and by religious, political and spiritual leaders in each of those territories, backed by an international effort to expose terrorism for the violent, murderous crime it really is.
Source: The National