The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) presented its written “Worldwide Threat Assessment” to the Senate last week. The analysis confirms that the Islamic State is capable of sustaining insurgencies in both Iraq and Syria, Afghan security continues to “deteriorate,” and al Qaeda remains a threat in several parts of the globe.
On Mar. 2, a new al Qaeda joint venture in West Africa was announced. The “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims” is led by Ansar Dine’s Iyad Ag Ghaly and is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri. It brings together four groups that were already part of al Qaeda’s international network.
Testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee Counterterrorism and Intelligence, on the future of counterterrorism and addressing the evolving threat to domestic security.
A letter recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound reveals that a senior AQIM commander recommended that his group train Boko Haram’s forces. Other official sources confirm that AQIM did provide the training and also groomed part of Boko Haram’s leadership. However, one of the Boko Haram leaders identified in the letter later cofounded a splinter group known as Ansaru, which rejects Boko Haram’s policies. Ansaru has been supported by AQIM.
The Islamic State has officially recognized a loyalty oath sworn by Abu Walid al Sahrawi, a jihadist based in West Africa. Sahrawi first swore his fealty to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in May 2015. It is not clear why it took so long for the so-called caliphate to recognize him as one of its representatives.
On Oct. 9, a statement attributed to Mokhtar Belmokhtar was circulated online. The message eulogizes Sheikh Ag Aoussa, a prominent Tuareg leader who was reportedly killed in an explosion after attending a meeting at a UN camp in Mali. The statement’s author, presumably Belmokhtar, blames France for Aoussa’s death and calls on tribes to turn against the French.
The Pentagon has confirmed that Ahmed Salama Mabrouk was killed in an Oct. 3 airstrike in Syria’s Idlib province. According to Defense Department Press Secretary Peter Cook, Mabrouk was “one of Al Qaeda’s most senior leaders” and his death is “a blow to their ability to plot external attacks.” Mabrouk was one of the most senior officials in Jabhat Fath al Sham, al Qaeda’s rebranded branch in Syria.
Fifteen years after 9/11, Al Qaeda remains a threat to the West despite not carrying out a large-scale attack in years. The group is waging insurgencies in several countries and is far larger than it was on 9/11.