Trotted out before the cameras to insist their boss, the president, has always understood the serious and on going threat presented by al Qaeda and its affiliates. Imminent and possibly large-scale attacks on US and Western interest led the adm to shutter nearly two dozen US embassies in he Middle East and South Africa for several days. The better part of his time in office, really—telling the American people that the threat from al Qaeda like its leadership in AFG and Pakistan would soon be gone.
The rest of the terror group was, “on the path to defeat”.
9/6/2012 at dems national convention—“four years ago I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorist who actually attacked us on 9/11 and we have. We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in AFG and in 2014 our longest war will be over. A new tower raised above the NY skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Bin Laden is dead”. It continued to appear in his stump speeches through his reelection. His broader message: AL Qaeda is on the verge of defeat”.

The president’s top national security advisers were making similarly bold claims; on 4/30/12 Brennan made much the same argument. Brennan at the Woodrow Wilson Center said the end of al Qaeda was imminent. I believe this decade will be the one that sees its demise” But why is a group nearing elimination has caused the world’s greatest power to shutter and evacuate so many of its overseas facilities. The dissonance has been a common feature of Obama’s counterterror strategy. It’s been a defining characteristic of his action in the absence of a strategy. In may he went to the National Defense University to announce the effective end of the war on terror. Within weeks after the leaks by Snowden the president was explaining—hesitantly, grudgingly—why the a US government would continue to collect massive amounts of data on the electronic communications of Americans to help protect against a threat he had downplayed. Obama adm officials are now insisting that their claims about an enfeebled al Qaeda applied only to “al Qaeda core” the senior leadership in AFG and PAK, and that they had always warned about the rising threat from al Qaeda affiliates. Our view is that the core of al Qaede in PAK and AFG is on the path to defeat said Jen Psaki, explaining the closures of diplomatic facilities. “We remain concerned about affiliates. Carney—“what is also true is that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations represent a continued threat to the US to our allies, to Americans stationed abroad, as well as Americans here at home. And for that reason we have focused a great deal of attention of those affiliated organizations”. There are two problems with this new argument, the almost cavalier way the adm spoke about the coming death of al Qaeda and the latest revelations make clear that the adm understanding of al Qaeda was almost completely wrong.
Separating the core form the affiliates allowed them to argue that the weakening of al Q core meant a weakening of al Q more broadly. Thus the elimination of many core al Q leaders meant the coming demise of al Q. officials frequently noted that the affiliates ambitions were regional and their resources were minimal. Brennan at W. Wilson “as the al Q core falters, it continues to look to its affiliates and adherents to carry on its murderous cause. Yet these affiliates continue to lose key commanders and capabilities as well”.
The ability of al-Q and its affiliates to rebuild, he said had been badly damaged by their willingness to kill fellow Muslims. One day after Brennan speech the adm authorized the release of 17 documents captured during the raid on the compound in Abbottabad. The adm portrayed al=Q leaders as impotent and isolated, cut off from other core al Q leaser and powerless over the groups affiliates. The future for al Q was bleak.
Eighteen months later, it’s clear that this judgment was wrong. Al Q affiliate in Syria—the al Nusra front—is taking over vast swaths of the country and adding new members at an alarming rate. Al Q in Iraq is sending reinforcements into the Syrian battle. Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia is operating more or less freely in its native country. Ansar al Sharia in Libya helped carry out the deadly attacks on US facilities in Benghazi. Radicals’ affiliates with al Q freed hundreds of jihadists imprisoned in Iraq, Pakistan and Libya.
The president and his advisers believed the fate of “al Q core” was ipso facto the fate of al Q broadly. We were succeeding in our efforts to eliminate al Q, but such assessments never reflected reality. The warnings come as a result of intercepted communications between the leader of al Q, Ayman al Zawahiri and Nasir al Wuhayshi, the leader of al Q most effective affiliate. The communications were actually broader than that and included leaders of both core al Q and it franchises. The communications included discussions of the structure of the organization and future operations.
Wuhayushi’s predecessors in May 2010 laid out duties making clear that al Q core would continue to be deeply involved in the management and leadership of its affiliates. Even the appointment of deputy affiliate leaders, bin Laden wrote, “should be done in consolation with the central group”. Zawahiri too is playing a creative role in keeping the affiliates close.
“For the fist time since this fight began, we can look ahead and envision a worked in which al Q core is no longer relevant”, said Brennan. Al Q affiliates are growing and threats to the US and our interest persist.


Souuces—weekly standard, long war journal, daily beast, steve hayes


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