Bin Laden Is Dead, but Al Qaeda Is Alive
6:04 PM, Sep 20, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
And al Qaeda’s network inside Libya is hooking up with other al Qaeda branches, too. “Al-Qaeda affiliates such as [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] are also benefiting from the situation in Libya,” the report reads. “AQIM will likely join hands with the al Qaeda clandestine network in Libya to secure a supply of arms for its areas of operations in northern Mali and Algeria.”
Al Qaeda is growing inside Libya, not dying. Of course, there are many other factions inside Libya. The rebellion against Qaddafi’s regime was not an al Qaeda-only affair. But some, including inside the Obama administration, have naively assumed that the Arab Spring has already doomed al Qaeda and its ideology.
The opening sentences of the report warn otherwise.
“Al Qaeda has tried to exploit the ‘Arab Awakening’ in North Africa for its own purposes during the past year,” the report’s authors argue. AQSL is pursuing a “strategy of reinforcing its presence in North Africa and the Middle East, taking advantage of the ‘Arab Awakening’ that has disrupted existing counterterrorism capabilities.”
“Leading from behind” in Libya and elsewhere will not stop al Qaeda’s widely-ignored expansion.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.