Last week, Tom Ricks asserted that al Qaeda isn't behind the Afghan insurgency because the United States has taken out an inordinate amount of senior leaders. I laid out the reasons why I disagreed with Ricks' assessment in this post. Now there's one more reason why his premise is false: al Qaeda has banded with the Taliban and an assortment of allied jihadi groups to create what it calls the Lashkar al Zil, or the Shadow Army. This is essentially al Qaeda's paramilitary force that operates in Pakistan's northwest and in eastern and southern Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda has reformed its notorious 055 Brigade and added on several other brigades made of of Arab, Central Asians, and South Asians. The Shadow Army has had spectacular success in Pakistan, and has been behind some effective attacks in Afghanistan. You can witness one of its successful operations in Pakistan at the link above. And here is a photo of the Shadow Army, operating openly in Pakistan's Swat district, where the Pakistani Army has been defeated twice in the past two years.
At least one squad of the joint Taliban-al Qaeda Shadow Army operating in Swat.