Al-Qaeda has vowed to wage “war on all fronts” against the US unless it withdraws from the entire Islamic world.
Ahead of the tenth anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, two activists said the terror network was planning a comeback as President Joe Biden prepares to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by September 11.
The Islamist group, now led by Egyptian jihadist Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been viewed by the West as a declining force since bin Laden’s assassination by US special forces on May 1, 2011, with a focus since turning to IS.
Before the tenth anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, two activists said al-Qaeda was planning a comeback
But the group’s activists told CNN: “The war against the US will continue on all other fronts unless they are driven out of the rest of the Islamic world.”
Terrorist Paul Cruickshank said it was possible that the Islamist group felt “spurred on” by Biden’s decision to withdraw troops.
Earlier this month, Biden said of America’s longest war, “Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is demoted in Afghanistan. And it’s time to end the war forever. ‘
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added: “We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago and we left because we were attacked on September 11th, and we stood up against those who attacked us on September 11th, and to ensure this, Afghanistan would not revert to a haven for terrorism directed against the United States or any of our allies and partners.
Al-Qaeda, now led by Egyptian jihadist Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been viewed as a declining force by the West since bin Laden’s assassination by US special forces on May 1, 2011. Image: Bin Laden’s premises in Abbottabad, two days after his death
“And we achieved the goals that we set ourselves.”
In February last year, the US made a deal with the Taliban in which it promised to cut ties with al-Qaeda, which led to the US invasion for the first time.
But al-Qaeda officials claim the Taliban are not being honest with Biden and that US troops could be withdrawn on false pretenses.
They suggested that the two Sunni Islamist groups could continue to work together once the US left the region.
Al Qaeda even regards the US withdrawal as a victory and says: “The Americans are now defeated.”
The speakers compared the costly war to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan just before the bloc collapsed, saying the current war had put a heavy strain on the US economy.
Al-Qaeda claims their relative silence over the past decade was “tactical” and part of their long war against the West, while ISIS took precedence.
A crashed military helicopter can be seen near the hiding place of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after a US special forces ground operation in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011
Leader al-Zawahiri, an ideologue with a far less charismatic presence than his predecessor bin Laden, had to sit back and hid near the Afghan-Pakistani border.
It’s only seen virtually and in occasional propaganda publications, but there are still successful al-Qaeda franchises operating in the Middle East and North Africa.
Speaking to Congress on Wednesday, Biden said he was aware that the Taliban deal could be reversed and said, “We will be able to go beyond the horizon to suppress future threats to the homeland.
“But make no mistake – the terrorist threat has expanded beyond Afghanistan since 2001 and we will continue to be vigilant of threats to the United States wherever it comes from.”
“Al-Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and other places in Africa, the Middle East and beyond.”
Despite the group’s claims, Barak Mendelsohn, a terrorism expert at Haverford College, Pennsylvania, believes al-Qaeda is “a shadow of its former self.”
Ayman al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian ideologue who has a far less charismatic presence than his predecessor, Bin Laden
Mendelsohn said that al-Qaeda’s leadership is no longer a coherent decision-making center, but rather resembles an “advisory board” that gathers and supports jihadists around the world.
The 69-year-old Zawahiri has seen that al-Qaeda is essentially distributing its operations from the Maghreb to Somalia to Afghanistan as well as in Syria and Iraq.
“Under the leadership of Zawahiri, al-Qaeda has become increasingly decentralized, with authority primarily in the hands of al-Qaeda leaders,” according to a recent report by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) think tank.
It was said that Zawahiri actually played an important role in the restructuring of numerous jihadist groups under the Al Qaeda umbrella.
The US gave Zawahiri a $ 25 million bounty and placed him on the list of most wanted terrorists. However, analysts say the officials do not appear unduly concerned about him and make no apparent effort to hunt him down.
Washington’s lack of interest may be due to the debilitating role of al-Qaeda as a decision-making center, which coincides with the rise of the rival Islamic state group.
ISIS, which at its height controlled a self-proclaimed “caliphate” made up of parts of Iraq and Syria, stole the thunder of al-Qaeda in particular in the media as its radical voice dominated social networks.
Instead of joining forces, the two groups have fought on numerous battlefields across the Middle East and Africa, and al-Qaeda is still faced with the challenge of remaining relevant.