Study finds al-Qaida continues to be serious threat to United States

July 23, 2013 at 9:35 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- Al-Qaida has expanded in the past decade and continues to be a serious threat to the United States, an analysis by a respected think tank concludes.

The study by the RAND Corp. said the terrorist group has more affiliates and allies than it did 10 years ago "indicating that al-Qaida and its brand are far from defeated," The Christian Science Monitor reported Tuesday.

"There has been a net expansion in the number and geographic scope of al-Qaida affiliates and allies over the past decade," said Seth Jones, RAND analyst and author of the study.

Jones lists several reasons for the expansion of the terrorist group including the Arab uprisings that weakened regimes in North Africa and the Middle East creating an opportunity for al-Qaida affiliates to gain a foothold.

He said al-Qaida affiliates "run their operations autonomously, though they still communicate with core leadership in Pakistan and may seek strategic advice."

The good news within this disparate movement, the RAND analysis said, is that most al-Qaida affiliates and allies are not actively plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland.

Their goal is to "establish Islamic emirates in specific countries or regions" and not to establish a global caliphate, the report said.

Approximately 98 percent of al-Qaida attacks between 1998 and 2011 "were part of an insurgency where operatives tried to overthrow a local government or secede from it -- and were not in the West," RAND said.

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