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A Failure of Policy

Al Qaeda runs amok.

May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Ansar Jerusalem’s true motivations, like those of the other groups responsible for assaulting U.S. diplomatic facilities in September 2012, are rooted in al Qaeda’s jihadist ideology. The group has peppered its videos with clips of Ayman al Zawahiri. The head of al Qaeda has, in turn, repeatedly praised Ansar Jerusalem’s attacks on Israel and inside Egypt. In a video released in January 2013, Ansar Jerusalem again tried to link its September 2012 terrorist attack in Israel to the video. This time, Ansar Jerusalem paid homage to Osama bin Laden. “If the freedom of your expression has no limit, then your chests should bear the freedom of our actions,” bin Laden says in the video. Bin Laden said this in connection with the protests that arose following the publication of controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in 2005.

The State Department added Ansar Jerusalem to the U.S. government’s list of designated terrorist groups in April. Foggy Bottom noted that the group “shares some aspects of [al Qaeda’s] ideology, but is not a formal AQ affiliate and generally maintains a local focus.” Left unsaid was what aspects of al Qaeda’s ideology the group doesn’t share. And its “local” attacks are perfectly consistent with al Qaeda’s global jihad. Ayman al Zawahiri has said as much.

Contrary to the talking points of Ben Rhodes and the Obama administration, the terrorist attack in Ben-ghazi and the assaults on American embassies elsewhere in the fall of 2012 were a monumental “failure
of policy.” Rhodes and other administration officials, including President Obama, claimed during a presidential election year to have al Qaeda “on the run.” Instead, groups that were, at a minimum, inspired by al Qaeda’s ideology were growing and attacking American interests.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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