As our military and international counter-terrorist efforts have focused on the ISIS threat and their defeat, other terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and their offshoots have regrouped and strengthened. As ISIS continues to loose territory on the battlefield, fighters have abandoned the cause and fled to other countries or sought refuge with other organized terror groups like al-Qaida. Analysts have seen growth both in size and organization of al-Qaida along with the emergence of bin Laden’s son, Hamza bin Laden, as a leader in the global terrorism effort.
Hamza bin Laden was added to the Global Terrorism Watch list earlier this year and has made recent statements about avenging his father’s death by leading al Qaeda in attacks on the west. Of particular concern, like ISIS, is al-Qaida’s success at recruiting via the internet and social media. Per a recent article in Bloomberg, former Deputy Director of the CIA, Mike Morrell stated that “80 percent of the people arrested by the FBI on terrorist-related charges in the past three years were U.S. residents, and the majority of them were citizens.” Many of these were inspired and recruited through the internet.
Symbols of the west will continue to be prime targets for al-Qaida and their affiliates. Airports and aviation will be the number one target of their efforts as we have seen in recent attacks in Brussels and Istanbul. Public transportation and any large public gathering places will also remain prime targets as we have seen in Paris, Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm. The counter-terrorism community assesses that the treat of terrorism will increase and terrorists will continue to adapt their techniques to counter the west’s efforts to prevent or stop attacks.
photo credit: dw/counterthreatgrp.com