[oema] CQ:Experts: al Qaeda Still Dangerous and Seeping Into the U.S.
- From: George Houston <ghouston@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: "Most Significant, Yet Undisclosed Folks List" <ghouston@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2009 09:57:13 -0800
> CQ HOMELAND SECURITY > > Nov. 19, 2009 ? 7:33 p.m. > > Experts: al Qaeda Still Dangerous and Seeping Into the U.S. > > By Matt Korade, CQ Staff > > The al Qaeda organization is declining but still dangerous, relying as > much as ever on local initiative as on top-down direction, experts > told a House Homeland Security subcommittee on Thursday. > > Battered in its safe-haven on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the > transnational terrorist network is spreading into Yemen, Somalia and > the Maghreb ó and into America, as the example of the September arrest > of U.S. legal resident Najibullah Zazi for an alleged New York bombing > plot seems to show, witnesses said. > > Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Homeland > Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk > Assessment, said she called the hearing to assess how the threat of al > Qaeda has changed since the panelís last hearing on the subject more > than a year ago. > > Despite U.S. and allied success in eliminating al Qaeda leaders in the > Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on Pakistanís border > with Afghanistan, Westerners are now training in the region, Harman > said. > > Al Qaeda is also inspiring copycat attacks, which might have been the > motivation for the FortHood shootings earlier this month, she said. > > ìThe ënew terrorist template,í as Time magazine calls it, will prove > an even more difficult threat to mitigate than that posed by the > original al Qaeda,î Harman said. > > Ranking Republican Peter T. King, R-N.Y., said he agreed al Qaeda is > in decline and has morphed. As the London subway attacks showed, ìIt > is second and third generation homegrown terrorists we have to be > concerned about,î King said. > > Peter Bergen, a senior fellow at the New American Foundation and > national security analyst for CNN, said Zazi, a citizen of Afghanistan > who was living in Denver, appears to be the first genuine al Qaeda > recruit living in the United States in years. > > Zazi allegedly traveled to Pakistan in August 2008 and received > explosives training from al Qaeda members in the Pakistani tribal > region, Bergen said. > > Other recent incidents involving U.S. citizens have a similar > ring, Bergen said. Bryant Neal Vinas, of Queens, New York, allegedly > took al Qaeda courses on rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons > in summer of 2008. Vinas allegedly told FBI interrogators that he gave > the terrorists information on the Long Island Rail Road commuter rail, > ìwhich the terror group had some kind of at least notional plan to > attack,î Bergen said. > > David Coleman Headley, a resident of Chicago, also allegedly had > significant dealings with terrorists in the FATA region, Bergen said. > Headley, believed by authorities to have been plotting an attack > against a Danish newspaper, has been charged with a criminal complaint > of conspiring to provide material support for terrorism. > > The cases appear to be part of a larger trend, Bergen said. According > to an unpublished count by New YorkUniversityís Center on Law and > Security, 25 U.S. citizens or residents have been charged with > traveling to an overseas training camp or war zone since 9/11, he > said. > > These include the training of: > > ï Two Americans with the Taliban; > > ï Seven with al Qaeda; > > ï Ten with the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba; > > ï Four with the Somali al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabab; > > ï And three with unspecified jihadists in Pakistan. > > Considering the number of people who have avoided charges, Bergen > said, the number of those who have received terrorist training > overseas is probably much larger. > > For instance, about two dozen Somali Americans, mostly from Minnesota, > traveled to Somalia to receive terrorist training, but only three were > charged or convicted of crimes for doing so, he said. > > ìSo this number under-counts the real number,î Bergen said, ìAnd I > think itís a fairly large number, given the fact that itís getting to > a training camp that really makes a differenceî in producing serious > terrorists. > > The experts agreed that the core al Qaeda organization has become a > diminished threat that probably is incapable of carrying out another > attack in the style of Sept. 11, 2001. But the group should not be > underestimated, said retired Army Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, director of > the Near EastSouthAsiaCenter for Strategic Studies at > the NationalDefenseUniversity. > > Al Qaeda has proven a resilient and determined enemy, he said, and > their targets canít slip up or let their guards down even once, ìwhich > is a very tough standard to meet,î Barno said. > > Martha Crenshaw, senior fellow at the Center for International > Security and Cooperation at StanfordUniversity, said estimates of al > Qaedaís strength ó which range from about 400 to less than 2000 ó are > ìmisleading and even meaningless.î Al Qaeda has always been a cross > between a centralized hierarchy and decentralized flat network, she > said. > > But, while adaptable and flexible, it is not a global social movement, > she said. > > ìInstead, it is a web of overlapping conspiracies, often piggy-backing > on local conflicts and grievances,î Crenshaw said. > > Paul Pillar, a professor and director of graduate studies > at GeorgetownUniversityís Security Studies Program, said it is > critical for counterterrorism officials to examine the reasons for > radicalization at home, which includes pre-existing anger and personal > discontent that is strong enough to make terrorism seem appealing. > > ìEven the most adept and aggressively proselytizing foreign terrorist > group could not make gains without raw material in the form of > disaffected and alienated individuals,î Pillar said. > > Matt Korade can be reached at mkorade@xxxxxx > > Source: CQ Homeland Security > © 2009 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved. > > >
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