The resurgence of al-Qaeda

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 6, 2014
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Three years ago, U.S. navy seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Obama gloated: "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al-Qaeda."

And on many occasions, he claimed that the al-Qaeda leadership has been decimated and that the operatives are on the run.

Yet today, al-Qaeda and like minded jihadists are stronger than ever. Its black flag is flying over Fallujah and much of the upper Euphrates valley, as it now controls the Sunni heartlands of northern Iraq.

In its fight against the Shiite-led government of Nouri al-Maliki, its bombing campaign killed 9.500 people, mostly Shiite civilians, last year alone. A further 2006 were killed in the first two months of this year. It reinforced its ranks by attacking prisons. Its assault on Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons in July last year freed 500 captives, many of them hardened fighters.

In Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) operates from the outskirts of Damascus to the border of Turkey. They are now the most powerful force fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Western-backed "moderate" Free Syrian Army has collapsed, as Jihadists overran their supply depots and killed their commanders.

The jihadists are fighting in Syria in the hope of establishing an Islamic caliphate under Sharia law.

The United States is now backing a Saudi plan to build a "Southern Front" based in Jordan against al-Qaeda in the north and east, with the "Yamouk Breigade" as the leading force in that new formation. But it has frequently fought in collaboration with Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda affiliate which has affirmed its allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. And a faction of Nusra is acting under the name of ISIS.

Al-Qaeda jihadists are not only active in Iraq and Syria, their resurgence is also evident in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt.

It is well-known who the pay masters of al-Qaeda jihadists are. Going back to the official 9/11 report which states that al-Qaeda relied for its financing on "a variety of donors and fundraisers, primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia." In 2009, a cable from Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, revealed by WikiLeaks, says: "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide."

Pakistan's military intelligence service, "Inter-Services Intelligence," (ISI) is another sponsor of al-Qaeda. In the 1980s, an alliance was formed between Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States which has proved durable.

Al-Qaeda has grown explosively by taking advantage of the instability created by the Afghan and Iraq wars, and later by the "Arab Spring." In other words, the U.S. "war on terror" has been counterproductive.

A sectarian struggle between the Sunnis and Shiites is spreading throughout the entire greater Middle East. In the case of Syria, each side is back by foreign forces with the Alawites (Shiites) backed by Iran, Russia and Hezbollah; and the Sunnis backed by the West and Gulf states.

It is supreme irony that Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally, openly bankrolls al-Qaeda and is getting away with it. In fact even Washington itself shares the same cause with the jihadists, fighting the regime of al-Assad.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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