Has Al Qaeda Returned?
Although ISIS has been defeated militarily in Iraq and most of Syria, it appears as though another terrorist group, al Qaeda is on the verge of a rebound.
“I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria,” said President Donald Trump.
ISIS is still a threat in these countries. According to U.N. experts, there are still 20,000-30,000 ISIS members in Iraq and Syria and the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is still alive.
But al Qaeda is also very much a threat, according to the U.N. report given to the Security Council last week.
“The report found that Al Qaeda is still a global network showing resilience, and it is stronger than ISIS in places like Somalia, Yemen and South Asia — and its leadership in Iran has grown more prominent,” writes Fox News.
“Al Qaeda’s leadership demonstrates strategic patience and its regional affiliates exercise good tactical judgment, embedding themselves in local issues and becoming players,” says the report.
In September of last year, we reported that it appeared as though the late Osama bin Laden’s son is following in his father’s footsteps.
Hamza bin Laden is now in his late 20s and appears to be ready to take over leadership of the al Qaeda terrorist group. On the anniversary of the infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks, al Qaeda shared a photo with Osama bin Laden and his son, Hamza standing in the Twin Towers wreckage.
Then, this month, The Guardian reported that Hamza wanted to avenge his father’s death.
As ISIS loses control, al Qaeda is expected to gain some of the ISIS or ISIL former supporters.
“Improved leadership and enhanced communication will probably increase the threat over time, as will any rise in the tendency, already visible in some regions, of ISIL supporters to join Al Qaeda,” says the report.
However, ISIS may borrow some of al Qaeda’s tactics and will focus on orchestrated attacks instead of trying to take territory to stay alive.
“ISIS 2.0 is the al Qaeda model. That’s what we’re seeing now. We’re seeing ISIS operate as a traditional terror organization,” said Michael Pregent, a former U.S. intelligence officer. “They don’t plant flags anymore, they don’t claim territory. They’ve learned that unless they can shoot down a U.S. aircraft, don’t plant a flag on a city because you’re going to lose it.”
Author’s note: Sadly, these terrorist groups never go quite away. We need to also be hunting for Hamza. ISIS should remain a focus, but al Qaeda needs to be addressed before they return with a devastating attack.