written by Jake Hollander
I know you’re probably in shock that this article ISN’T about the election, but it’s still important.
On October 23rd, 2016, Al Qaeda’s number one in Afghanistan, Farouk al-Qatani, was killed in Kunar Province by a U.S. airstrike. A Pentagon spokesperson announced that the airstrike killed the terrorist on November 5th.
Among other things, al-Qatani was one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous leaders, described by former CIA acting director Michael Morell as “a US counterterrorism expert’s worst nightmare,” as well as “one of the few al Qa’ida leaders…[he worries] might have what it takes to replace Bin Laden.”(313)
The specific area he was hiding in Kunar was near Nuristan Province, an area that is one of the most inhospitable places that humankind has settled.
Since major events such as the formation of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the death of Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda has split into a series of factions, some of which at war with the others. The two most dangerous are Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS, the later of which is fighting the other Al Qaeda factions. A close runner-up in terms of lethality is Jabhat al-Sham, formerly known as Al Qaeda in Syria. It split with intent of winning the hearts and minds of the Syrian resistance, and integrating itself across the spectrum of rebels. Following that are less dangerous groups, such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, located in North Africa and has been seriously damaged by French intervention efforts. Another one of the smaller groups is the one al-Qatani belongs to: Designated Al Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL), it is located in Afghanistan and Pakistan, headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, and is the original organization formed by Osama Bin Laden. Without al-Qatani, it is all but neutralized.
But that doesn’t mean that the other Al Qaeda factions are done either. There is a lot more work to do to counter global terrorism, and while airstrikes can cause serious setbacks and prevent them from launching sophisticated, comprehensive attacks, there are a variety of means necessary- law enforcement, intelligence operations, humanitarianism, trade, and education and others- before the U.S. can truly say it has defeated terrorism.
Source: The Great War of our Time by Michael Morell