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That must come as news to Mr. Obama, who boasted in the closing weeks of his re-election campaign in Green Bay, Wis., that “al Qaeda has been decimated,” a claim that has been repeated by other administration officials.

Then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta was a bit more circumspect at the time, saying its leadership ranks were reduced but the organization continues intact. “We have slowed the primary cancer — but we know that the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the global body,” he said in a speech at the Center for a New American Security here in November.

The truth is al Qaeda operatives have not only spread throughout the Middle East, but across key parts of North Africa, into Asia, the United States and now into Canada.

Last year, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the older of the two brothers, traveled to visit his family in Russia for about six months, visiting places where Russian forces had fought Islamic insurgents in the 1990s. When he returned to the United States, he posted a YouTube video of Islamic militant Abu Dujana, which he later removed.

It’s not known if he came home with specific instructions from terrorist leaders there. It is clear, though, that he returned more determined then ever to carry out the terrorist acts he and his younger brother are charged with in Boston.

In her prescient analysis of the fast-growing al Qaeda threat in the United States, Ms. Zuckerman tells us that while we’ve foiled many plots, “the U.S. cannot afford to become complacent.”

We need to re-examine and reform our visa screening system, which is being exploited by terrorists, repair gaps in information-sharing with our allies and act upon tips from abroad.

In hindsight, Moscow’s urgent request to investigate Tamerlan, the apparent mastermind of the bombing, certainly deserved a far more thorough follow-up.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.