- (Photo: Reuters/Feisal Omar)
The al-Qaeda terrorist organization and its affiliates still present an aggressive and real threat to the U.S. and its allies, read a recent U.S. State Department report.
The annual terrorism report, released Wednesday, says that the loss of power among al-Qaeda hubs in Pakistan and Afghanistan has resulted in the aggressive growth of splintered al-Qaeda affiliates scattered throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The report added that there has been more than a 40 percent increase in terrorist attacks around the world from 2012 to 2013.
The splintering of al-Qaeda affiliates has caused the terrorist organization's head, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and his central leadership group to lose control of several factions in the Middle East and North Africa. Additionally, smaller factions are focusing on more localized attacks, such as the attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2013.
"While the international community has severely degraded AQ's core leadership, the terrorist threat has evolved," the report said. "Leadership losses in Pakistan, coupled with weak governance and instability in the Middle East and Northwest Africa, have accelerated the decentralization of the movement and led to the affiliates in the AQ network becoming more operationally autonomous from core AQ and increasingly focused on local and regional objectives."
The report also explains how the central al-Qaeda leadership lost control over splintering factions, saying: "AQ leadership experienced difficulty in maintaining cohesion within the AQ network and in communicating guidance to its affiliated groups. AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was rebuffed in his attempts to mediate a dispute among AQ affiliates operating in Syria – al-Nusrah Front and al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), now calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – which resulted in the expulsion of ISIL from the AQ network in February 2014," the report reads.
"In addition, guidance issued by Zawahiri in 2013 for AQ affiliates to avoid collateral damage was routinely disobeyed, notably in attacks by AQ affiliates against civilian religious pilgrims in Iraq, hospital staff and convalescing patients in Yemen, and families at a shopping mall in Kenya."
The report states that the out-of-control splintering of Al-Qaeda could have a dangerous effect on the U.S. and its allies. Much of the aggression is coming from affiliates in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, northwest Africa, and Somalia. The report also singled out Iran, Cuba, Syria, and Sudan as state sponsors of terrorism.