Shadow Government

Al Qaeda: Alive and kicking

The disruption of a new underwear bomber plot, once again attributable to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — one of the most active branches of al Qaeda — is a welcome and yet worrisome development. On the one hand, kudos to our counter-terrorism establishment which, through good intelligence and police work, stopped the ...

ABC News via Getty Images
ABC News via Getty Images

The disruption of a new underwear bomber plot, once again attributable to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — one of the most active branches of al Qaeda — is a welcome and yet worrisome development. On the one hand, kudos to our counter-terrorism establishment which, through good intelligence and police work, stopped the bomber before he could carry out his attack. On the other hand, AQAP has shown that it — and al Qaeda in general — are alive and well, despite our best efforts to disrupt and destroy them. After years of deadly strikes against the group (see Bill Roggio’s excellent work on this here), AQAP has been able to regenerate and continue to plot and plan destructive terrorist attacks against the homeland. 

Even more worrisome, however, is that AQAP managed to organize this attack while its fighting cadres are winning battle after battle against the Yemeni government, seizing territory and imposing al Qaeda’s version of sharia on the populace. I’ll have more to say on this issue soon, when the first part of my reaction to the recently released Osama bin Ladin documents will be posted. For this piece, I will just say that it is a false dichotomy to categorize al Qaeda’s strategy as one that is meant solely to take territory OR solely to carry out attacks on the U.S. As the actions of AQAP make quite clear, the group desires both and, more importantly, has the capabilities to do both simultaneously.

The U.S. is on high alert to watch for any further bombs that might be on the loose; I wonder if we have a similarly well-thought out plan in place to deal with the deteriorating situation in the country that allowed these plots to be hatched.

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