Former Intelligence Analyst: "Al-Qaeda's Bigger Now Than It Ever Has Been"

Nicole Bailey

10/4/2013 2:38:00 PM - Nicole Bailey

Al-Qaeda has now welcomed al-Shabab--the group responsible for the Kenya mall attack--into its ranks.

Despite the targeted US killing of al-Qaeda leaders, more and more terrorist groups are joining the al-Qaeda network and expanding membership - what led former Australian intelligence analyst Leah Farrell to say, "al-Qaeda's bigger now than it ever has been."

The Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank, points out that something must be wrong:

Confirmed Al Qaeda attacks have increased fourfold since 11 September 2001 compared to the number before and, the attack on the twin towers aside, the number of deaths as a result of Al Qaeda terrorist attacks has also increased considerably.

How could this happen when the US is so heavily invested (in every sense of the word) in the War on Terror? Hundreds of American drone strikes have been carried out, many targeting al-Qaeda leaders, and President Obama has been the most aggressive de facto advocate of the targeted killing of terrorist leaders ever seen.

Richard Barrett, former coordinator of the al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team at the UN, thinks the problem is that "all the efforts have been about destroying the structure without dealing with why people join" so far.

It seems Barrett is right: in 2011, a decade after the 9/11 tragedy, the White House thought al-Qaeda's "relevance...and its ideology has been further diminished" and that terror threats have moved to al-Qaeda's "periphery."

President Obama needs to realize that the terrorist network is inherently decentralized and composed of "affiliations" that are just as dangerous as the Afghanistan/Pakistan leadership "core" with which he is obsessed. Both Osama bin Laden's death and the Arab Spring unrest allowed the al-Qaeda network to grow much stronger.

Our government needs a drastic and immediate restructuring of priorities and realignment of perspective to even stand a chance against the biggest al-Qaeda that has ever been.