Despite previous reports that al-Qaeda was on the decline, it remains just much of a threat to the U.S. as ever. The terrorist organization is continuing to recruit new members and some experts believe the death of Osama Bin Laden may have actually helped their cause. As the U.S. begins to slowly pull back in the Middle East and has removed itself from Iraq completely, al-Qaeda uprisings are beginning to spread and Iraq seems to be particularly fertile ground for terrorists.
Al-Qaeda is also spreading into some Northern African countries as well, including Algeria and Nigeria, with an attack on a gas plant in the former country last January killing 35 people. The recent outpouring of weapons from Libya after the ousting of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime have also made their way into the hands of al-Qaeda forces in Mali.
This is a very worrisome development for the entire region,” said Aviv Oreg, former head of the Israel Defense Force’s military intelligence on al-Qaeda and global jihad. Katherine Zimmerman, senior analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, also confirmed that “the network remains far from crippled, and there is little evidence indicating that the network on the whole is on the decline. Al-Qaeda’s affiliates actually strengthened their positions in 2011 despite the death of bin Laden.”
However, although al-Qaeda power is on the rise, the terrorist organization has still suffered significant losses recently. In the last three years, the U.S. has killed four of the top five leaders of the organization, including bin Laden, Sheik Said al Masri, Atiyah Abd al Rahman and Abu Yahya al Libi. White House officials have stated this is a clear sign that al-Qaeda is on the path to eventual defeat.