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Al-Qaeda is not dead; it is regrouping in Afghanistan and elsewhere

Although many people often forget, al-Qaeda is still around and is very active, but its activities are hardly being noticed.

“Remember al-Qaeda? The danger hasn’t gone away,” by Kalicharan Veera Singam, The Interpreter, May 27, 2024:

Deadly ISIS attacks this year in Iran and the Russian capital Moscow leave little doubt about the group’s efforts at revival. ISIS is now expanding in the Middle East, Central Asia and large parts of Africa, amid warnings it may even target the United States directly in the coming months.

But it’s not just ISIS. Al-Qaeda, its rival terrorist organisation, is also in a better position to make a violent comeback.

While intelligence about ISIS and its threat potential is considered voluminous and clear, the insight into al-Qaeda’s operations is thin and conflicting. According to US intelligence assessments, by September 2023 al-Qaeda in Afghanistan had considerably declined, a year after the killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, leaving the group largely directionless. However, other recent evidence contradict this. Findings from a report by privately commissioned officials and recently featured in Foreign Policy show that al-Qaeda has set up military training facilities with activities appearing to resemble the group’s presence in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks. A UN Sanctions Monitoring Team had also similarly assessed in June 2023 that al-Qaeda is regrouping in Afghanistan.

While contradictory points of intelligence paint a conflicting picture, a few verifiable developments and indicators suggest that al-Qaeda is not down and out, and that it could, in all likelihood, continue to expand. The group’s regional branch for South Asia, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS, has in some ways served a similar function to that of ISIS in Afghanistan, better known as IS-K, that of a calibrated regional branch that strengthens the reach of the core. Several AQIS members were arrested in India over the last year. In the January 2024 issue of the AQIS journal Nawa-i-Ghazwa-e-Hind, the group quoted Osama bin Laden’s calls for attacks against Americans….

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