Da un po’ di tempo gli analisti occidentali (e non solo) rilanciano l’allarme su al Qaeda, la quale si starebbe riorganizzando.
Qui di seguito alcuni articoli a riguardo.
Beirut- Al-Qaida is changing its tactics and new strategies are needed to combat it, the former head of Britain’s intelligence agency said Tuesday, warning that Iraq has become the new epicenter for terror cells in exporting radical ideology.
"We need to think rather carefully about where we go now — from where we are now — in confronting the consequences of 9/11," Richard Dearlove told a business conference on terrorist threats.
"Our strategy — strategic position — in sum is weak," he added. "A strategic rethink is probably the point that we have now reached."
Another al-Qaida expert told the conference that Iraq is becoming a "Disneyland" for the terror group — the new focus of its "holy war" against the West.
"The epicenter has shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq," said Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.
He warned that if U.S.-led coalition forces pulled out of Iraq now, attacks in Europe would increase and troops would have to return in two to three years.
Dearlove was one of the purported characters in the so-called "Downing Street memos," notes of a secret meeting in the summer of 2002 when British intelligence officials allegedly warned Prime Minister Tony Blair and his advisers that the United States was bent on going to war in Iraq despite weak evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
The White House has denied the premise of the Downing Street memos, which were leaked to the Sunday Times of London in 2005.
When the U.S. went to war in 2003, the al-Qaida terrorist network had fairly weak links in Iraq.
Iraq is now dotted by dozens of al-Qaida-affiliated groups. Some are led by Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the al-Qaida chain of command and has been trying to build a support base in Europe, Gunaratna said. Al-Masri, an Egyptian militant, was endorsed by Osama bin Laden after al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq in June 2006 by a U.S. airstrike.
Despite significant setbacks, al-Qaida is thriving — partly because it has been successful in its "brand appeal," said Dearlove, now the head of Pembroke College at Cambridge University.
The terror group is expanding from its traditional centers in afghanistan, seeking to spread ideology to people who have had little contact with it, Dearlove said. It is looking beyond shortterm victories in the propaganda war in Iraq and looking for newer deadlier attack methods.
Al-Qaida is making new inroads in Algeria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and there has been a resurgence in places such as Somalia, he said. Meanwhile, tactics in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have been successful in weakening terror groups.
"Al-Qaida in Iraq seeks a propaganda victory against the West," he said of a campaign meant to target U.S. and British voters, comparing it to the Vietnam War.
In response, the counterterrorism tactics used by the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks must be updated, he said, noting the more "mature approach" Britain has taken in the fight against terrorism.
"I think if we take a longer-term view, which we should be taking now, the policy has to change. The policy has to move on," Dearlove said.
A clear moral position is required to halt al-Qaida recruitment, and Muslim leaders need to be involved. He also said certain U.S. counterterrorism policies, such as extraordinary rendition and detention without warrant, must be changed.
"At the moment, there is no question that it is very easy for al-Qaida to recruit its foot soldiers," Dearlove said.
A Resurgent al-Qaeda and U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy
May 17, 2007
Media headlines following the April 30 release of the State Department’s annual report on global terrorism developments, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, focused on the theme of increased terrorism. But the 335-page document, along with its accompanying statistical assessment produced by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), also contained important insights into the U.S. administration’s evolving strategy to counter the terrorist threat.
Evolution in U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy
The 2006 report indicates that the United States is adapting its approach to countering global terrorism. In the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States focused on taking aggressive action against terrorists and maintaining a hard line with foreign governments. This was reflected in the four counterterrorism policy principles outlined in the State Department’s 2004 report: (1) make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals, (2) bring terrorists to justice, (3) isolate and pressure state sponsors of terrorism, and (4) improve the counterterrorism capabilities of allies.
This year’s report strikes a different tone. While the United States still must eliminate the leadership of terrorist organizations, the report notes that "incarcerating or killing terrorists will not achieve an end to terrorism." According to the report, one of the most important and challenging aspects of combating terrorism is "addressing the underlying conditions that terrorists exploit," which include "geo-political issues, lack of economic opportunity and political participation, ethnic conflict, ungoverned space, or political injustice." In addition, a section of the report is devoted to "the struggle of ideas," and how the United States is incorporating public diplomacy into its counterterrorism efforts in an effort to counter the "extremist rhetoric and disinformation coming from hostile groups."
The U.S. government has produced an annual report on global terrorist trends since 1976. The CIA issued the reports until 1982, when the State Department assumed this responsibility. Congress first made the annual reports mandatory in 1987, subsequently broadening the scope of the report in 1996 by requiring not only information about international terrorist groups, but also assessments of other countries’ cooperation on counterterrorism matters. The reports also include detailed statistics on the number of terrorist attacks and victims.
In 2004, the State Department transferred responsibility for assessing and releasing terrorism statistics to NCTC, given its statutory role as the government’s "shared knowledge bank" on global terrorism. To more accurately reflect the narrowed scope of the report, the State Department changed the title of its series from Patterns of Global Terrorism to Country Reports on Terrorism. In 2005, the State Department added a section to the report focused on terrorist sanctuaries and terrorist groups’ efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
A Resurgent al-Qaeda
According to the NCTC terrorism statistics, there were approximately 14,000 attacks defined as "terrorist" in 2006, resulting in more than 20,000 deaths. From 2005, this is a 25 percent increase in attacks and a 40 percent rise in deaths. The Middle East and South Asia were the most dangerous regions in 2006, as hosts to 90 percent of the "high-casualty" incidents (defined as killing more than ten people). Within these regions, about 750 attacks took place in Afghanistan, and 6,600 occurred in Iraq, causing 13,000 fatalities. While the statistics are sobering and paint a vivid picture of the global terrorist threat, there are several less publicized aspects of these reports even more important for U.S. policymakers. First, the NCTC report describes an al-Qaeda organization that appears to have rebounded. NCTC refers to a "steadfast al-Qaeda" that is "planning attacks in northwest Pakistan, and was able to expand its propaganda campaign in 2006 to invigorate supporters, win converts and gain recruits." In fact, the report notes that al-Qaeda leaders allegedly played an important role in "steering" terrorists in the United Kingdom, whose plot to blow up ten U.S.?bound planes was foiled in August 2006.
Al-Qaeda’s affiliates were also able to carry out several successful attacks in 2006. Most prominently, al-Qaeda in Iraq destroyed the al-Askariya mosque in the Iraqi city of Samarra, a Shia holy site, leading to a round of sectarian violence. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula conducted the first attack on a Saudi oil facility in February 2006, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) — formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat until its August 2006 merger with al-Qaeda — attacked a U.S. target in Algeria in December (the group has since claimed responsibility for two April 2007 suicide car bombings in Algiers that killed thirty-three and injured more than three hundred).
In contrast, at the time the State Department’s 2004 report was issued, al-Qaeda was seen as an organization whose capability had been dramatically decreased. The report assessed that al-Qaeda had been "weakened operationally," and that the United States and its allies had degraded its leadership abilities and depleted its operational ranks. While al-Qaeda remained focused on attacking U.S. interests, the report noted that its ability to conduct large-scale attacks had been diminished. The spurring of a "grassroots" movement of terrorist networks and cells, inspired by al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden but with no direct ties to them, were thought to be the emerging threat.
Based on the 2006 reports, it appears that the terrorist threat has become even more complex and diverse, which presents serious counterterrorism challenges for the United States and its allies. For example, NCTC determined that almost 300 different groups were involved in terrorist attacks in 2006. It reported that, of these, "Sunni terrorist groups" claimed responsibility for more attacks than any other group in 2006. This broad category includes a variety of terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda, its affiliates, and the "grassroots" or "homegrown" terrorist cells. In fact, according to the State Department, the terrorist threat has been transformed to the point that it is now a "form of global insurgency."
The report lists a variety of safe havens throughout the world, still available to terrorist organizations, where they can "organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train and operate in relative security." Most notable from the U.S. perspective is Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which were transformed into a safe haven after the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. Both al-Qaeda and Afghan insurgents have a presence in FATA, and local tribes and Islamist groups have pushed back against Pakistani government efforts to increase control in this area. Earlier this week, a U.S. soldier died on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border when a meeting between U.S. and Pakistani officials was fired upon.
In Africa, the Trans-Sahara and Somalia are cited as safe havens, as al-Qaeda operatives have found refuge in the former and AQIM continues to operate with relative impunity in the latter. East Asia also has areas considered to be safe havens, which the al-Qaeda?affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf group continue to use to their advantage. Hizballah and Hamas have been able to exploit the loosely governed Tri-Border Area in Latin America, where they conduct illicit activities to raise funds for their organizations. Finally, while Iraq is not included in this category, the report notes that terrorists "view Iraq as a potential safe haven and are attempting to make it a reality."
While the terrorist threat described in the report is somewhat disheartening, the report inspires confidence in one respect. The assessment of the terrorist threat is straightforward and balanced, suggesting that the U.S. government’s understanding of the enemy it is facing has improved, even as the global jihadist movement grows increasingly complex. The United States also clearly recognizes that a comprehensive approach — broader than only military, intelligence, and law enforcement action — will be required to defeat this global movement.
Negroponte fears al-Qaeda expansion
A top US official has warned of the increasing risks of terrorism and violence in Africa and the Middle East, in a sobering account of the current state of the Bush administration’s "war against terror".
John Negroponte, deputy US secretary of state, highlighted increased al-Qaeda activity in northern parts of Africa as well as the risk of Iraq violence spreading further across the Middle East.
"I think there’s a concern that al-Qaeda might expand its efforts into the Sahel region [immediately south of the Sahara in Africa]", he said, citing Chad, Mali and Niger. His comments, in an interview with the Financial Times and other European newspapers, follow a warning from countries such as Morocco that a growing number of terrorist training camps across the Sahel region are drawing in north Africans.
He said worries had risen after the merger last year between al-Qaeda’s Maghreb arm and Algeria’s Salafist Group for Call and Combat, a radical group that operates training camps in Mali.
"I think that’s compounded the concerns of people in the region and of course it’s disturbing that there seems to have been an increased tempo of terrorist activity in Algeria itself," Mr Negroponte said, referring to a series of attacks that followed the Algerian "merger".
He also argued that terrorist activities would spread further throughout the Middle East if the US pulled out of Iraq too soon. "There would be a much greater danger of that happening if we were to withdraw precipitately," he said.
However, many western officials believe Iraq is already exporting terrorism, serving as an inspiration and training ground for extremists.
Mr Negroponte pleaded with Iraq’s political groups to pass laws on hydrocarbons and de-Ba’athification that the US sees as essential to establishing a measure of stability.
"We are urging them to spare no effort to get this legislation passed before the end of the summer," he said, repeating Washington’s call for the Iraqi parliament to delay its recess until the legislation was passed.
He added that the US had recently taken a number of steps recommended by last year’s Iraq Study Group – in particular, meetings with Syria and Iran over the country’s fate.
Asked about US and British claims that Iran is supplying bombs to Iraqi insurgent groups – claims that Tehran denies – Mr Negroponte said he did not know whether Iran had reduced the number of bombs going to Iraq.
He also emphasised Washington’s belief that Iran was now supplying bombs to the Taliban rebels in Afghanistan – even though the Taliban were bitter enemies of Tehran when in power.
"Even in my capacity previously as director of national intelligence, there were some concerns about what appeared to be movement of some weapons and explosive devices across the border from Iran into Afghanistan," he said.