The new leaders rose from within the organization after the death or capture of the operatives that built Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. This has led to surprise and dismay within U.S. intelligence agencies about the group's ability to rebound from an American-led offensive.Perhaps if we had maintained that offensive pressure -- and exerted some pressure on the likes of Pakistan's dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf -- instead of bailing out to fight an unnecessary war in Iraq, we wouldn't be feeling all this "surprise" and "dismay."
The evidence officials said was accumulating about (ascending terrorist leader Abu Ubaidah al-)Masri and a handful of other Al Qaeda figures has led to a reassessment within the U.S. intelligence community about the strength of the group's core in Pakistan's tribal areas, and its role in some of the most significant terrorism plots of the last two years, including the airline plot and the suicide attacks in London in July 2005 that killed 56 people.So al Qa'ida has survived the "American-led offensive" (which included the "fumbled" opportunity at Tora Bora) in Afghanistan, they have a safe haven in Pakistan, and --SURPRISE!!! -- they have gained a foothold in Iraq.
Yes. Thanks to George W. Bush and his friends, like Pakistan dictator Pervez Musharraf.
Experts say they still see Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as largely independent of Al Qaeda's hub in Pakistan but that they believe the fighting in Iraq will produce future al Qaeda leaders. "The jihadis returning from Iraq are far more capable than the mujahedeen who fought the Soviets ever were," said Robert Richer, who was associate director of operations in 2004 and 2005 for the CIA. "They have been fighting the best military in the world, with the best technology and tactics."
"To say that Al Qaeda was out of business simply because they have not attacked in the U.S. is whistling past the graveyard," said Michael Scheuer, a former head of the bin Laden tracking unit at the CIA. "Al Qaeda is still humming along, and with a new
generation of leaders."