Hoffman’s take on al Qaeda in Syria

Dina Templ-Raston of NPR did a nice short clip on the extent of al Qaeda infiltration and participation in the Syrian revolts against the Assad regime. The short clip- (click here al Qaeda in Syria) – mixes discussion from Ambassador Dan Benjamin at the U.S. Department of State and the Godfather of terrorism and counterterrorism research, Dr. Bruce Hoffman. Knowledge Ninja Sensei Dr. Bruce (He’s a notch or two above all other knowledge ninjas) provides some interesting perspective on how al Qaeda integrates into rebellions at first, by supporting rather than commanding rebels. Dr. Hoffman notes here.

“The key here is that al-Qaida is not waging these struggles as independent units, rather they are presenting themselves or offering fighters as force multipliers,” …”In the past, they have been very effective of co-opting the local agenda of these groups,” Hoffman said. “We’ve seen it certainly with the Pakistani Taliban that staged the 2010 Times Square attempted bombing. We’ve seen it certainly with al-Shabab in Somalia. And the Free Syrian Army certainly wouldn’t be the first who thought they could control terrorists.”

Ahh, this poses an interesting dilemma for the past week’s discussion on “who should we call al Qaeda?“. In the beginning, al Qaeda doesn’t really taking outright control of local groups. Instead, al Qaeda provides to militant group’s what they need, foreign fighters, weapons, and funding, and then later embed themselves within the leadership of the militant group instituting their jihadi ideology and strategic agenda on a group now in debt to al Qaeda for past support. So, who do we call “al Qaeda’?

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