Syria conflict could give Al-Qaeda second wind: Report

Syria conflict could give Al-Qaeda second wind: Report
Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:14:26

Desperate to recoup following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and left without its terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda may have an opportunity to get back on track in Syria, according to a report by two US statesmen.

The report comes as the US Congress is in the process of considering whether to approve a widely opposed military strike against Syria over conflicting reports of an alleged chemical attack near Syrian capital on August 21.

The war in Syria "may provide al-Qaeda with an opportunity to regroup, train and plan operations,” concluded former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton and former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean in a summary of the report's findings. “Foreign fighters hardened in that conflict could eventually destabilize the region or band together to plot attacks against the West."

The report was published Monday by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

While admitting it is too early to predict the long-term threat posed by al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, the paper warned that the “right set of circumstances in the unstable Middle East” could breathe life into the network.

This unpredictability on the part of the militants, comprised of known terrorist elements, is what Syrian President Bashar Assad was referring to when he warned in a recent CBS interview that the United States should “expect everything” in the event Washington decides to go ahead with an attack.

The report harkened back to the circumstances of the Iraq war, arguing that the highly controversial US military operation “revitalized the [al-Qaeda] network and gave it new relevance.

Similarly, Syria's conflict could offer a convenient safe haven for al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate, it warns, while adding that al-Nusra "is widely regarded as the most effective fighting force in Syria."

Meanwhile, it seems that the group has learned a thing or two about public relations, refraining from imposing mandatory law on the populace, opting instead for providing social services to the war-torn region.  

Meanwhile, there are other groups fighting on the side of the armed opposition that are every bit as dangerous as al-Qaeda.

In January, a leaked memo provided a shocking look at how Saudi officials commuted the sentences of 1,200 death row inmates on the condition they join the militants and fight to overthrow the government, according to the Assyrian International News Agency.

The memo read: “We have reached an agreement with them that they will be exempted from the death sentence and given a monthly salary to their families and loved ones, who will be prevented from traveling outside Saudi Arabia in return for rehabilitation of the accused and their training in order to send them to jihad in Syria.”

Inmates from Yemen, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, and Kuwait were said to have accepted the offer.


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