Islamic terrorism and al-Qaeda in particular seemed to be in the doldrums, what with military defeats and drone attacks. But now that an al-Qaeda franchise took over that natural gas installation in Algeria–at last count, 38 hostages killed, including 3 Americans–its stock is reportedly soaring in the radical Islamic world and more young people are getting excited about terrorism again. So reports Joby Warrick in the Washington Post:
A week of violence in Algeria and Mali has transformed al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch into a cause celebre for militant Islamists around the globe, boosting recruitment and fundraising for the jihadists and spurring fears of further terrorist attacks in the region and beyond.
Even after suffering tactical defeats in both countries in recent days, the movement known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is being lionized in Internet chat rooms and in official statements by extremist groups, some of which are urging reprisal campaigns against Western interests.
U.S. officials and terrorism analysts are pointing to last week’s hostage drama in eastern Algeria as a turning point for the al-Qaeda offshoot, boosting its credibility while marking its transition from a predominantly Algeria-focused organization to a true multinational threat able to draw manpower, weapons and resources from across the region.
As American troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan in the next two years, ending a conflict that started as an effort to crush al-Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Washington and other Western capitals face the grim threat of a virulent new al-Qaeda wing capable of a broad reach.
“They are growing more dangerous. They are growing in numbers,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” show Sunday.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Rogers described the attack on an energy complex in Algeria as a strategic victory for the al-Qaeda branch — commonly known as AQIM — with echoes of a militant assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, in September that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
“This is on the heels of Benghazi . . . this becomes a recruiting dream for them and a nightmare for us,” Rogers told The Post. “It shows that they can strike Western targets and gives them a confidence level.”
The big target, according to the article: France, for its war in Mali. The jihadists are fantasizing about taking down the Eiffel Tower.
When we finally leave Afghanistan and Iraq, does anyone believe that the jihadists WON’T take over those countries? (I’m not asking for a discussion of whether or not we should stay or should have ever gone in. Just what do you think will happen after we’re gone?)
And what should we do about Islamic terrorism now?