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Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Thomas Joscelyn
The number of drone strikes approved by the Obama administration on suspected terrorists has fallen dramatically this year, as the war with al Qaeda increasingly shifts to Africa and U.S. intelligence craves more captures and interrogations of high-value targets.
Should Syrian President Bashar Assad's government come apart chaotically — a possible ramification of U.S. military strikes — the risk is high that al Qaeda-linked groups among Syria's opposition forces could gain access to the nation's lethal chemical weapons stocks, the head of the House Homeland Security Committee warned Tuesday.
Al Qaeda-linked groups operating alongside Syria's rebels are growing stronger, analysts told Congress on Tuesday, countering recent claims by the Obama administration and some senior lawmakers that extremists are playing only a marginal role in the civil war.
The recent wave of anti-West demonstrations across the Muslim world and the attack that killed four Americans in Libya have triggered mounting concern among analysts and U.S. officials that al Qaeda is exploiting the chaos that has followed the Arab Spring's overthrow of secular dictatorships aligned with the United States.
The latest edition of al Qaeda's online, English-language magazine includes an article offering an Islamic justification for extremists to steal from non-Muslims to finance their activities. Analysts say this shows that the U.S. and its allies are succeeding in drying up sources of terrorist funding.
Senate Republicans are pressing the Obama administration for documents that outline procedures used in releasing terrorism-suspect detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, information the Justice Department and State Department have previously withheld.
"If you're not capturing guys to get that intel, then, yeah, you're going to be missing a part of the picture — if not a large part of the picture," said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow focusing on al Qaeda and North Africa at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
"There are other parts of the American military and intelligence community that understand that drones are not going to win this war," he said. "Drones are a necessary tactic, but they are not a strategy."