With the recent release of “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011” by the US State Department, Counterterrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin said al-Qaida affiliates are increasing their overall operational ability in Arabian Peninsula despite suffering losses in 2011.
In his remarks at DC, Mr. Benjamin says was an extremely significant year in counterterrorism.
He cites that besides the death of Usama bin Ladin and a number of other key al-Qaida operatives, millions of citizens throughout the Middle East advance peaceful public demands for change without any reference to al-Qaida’s incendiary world view.
“This upended the group’s longstanding claim that change in this region would only come through violence.” -Mr. Benjamin
According to Mr. Benjamin, revolutionary transformations have many bumps in the road.
Terrorists could still cause to significant disruptions for states undergoing very challenging democratic transitions, Mr. Benjamin added.
He says that the report’s narrative notes, among other things, the continued weakening of the al-Qaida core in Pakistan, but inncreasing their overall operational ability which is particularly true of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
He pointed out that that for all the counterterrorism successes that we’ve seen against al-Qaida and its affiliates, the group and violent extremist ideology and rhetoric continue to spread in some parts of the world.
The report also notes that al-Qaida and its affiliates are not the only terrorist threat that the United States faces, he stressed.
The US is also increasingly concerned about Iran’s support for terrorism and Hezbollah’s activities as they’ve both stepped up their level of terrorist plotting over the past year and and are engaging in their most active and aggressive campaigns since the 1990s.
Mr. Benjanmin notes that Iran’s use of terrorism as an instrument of policy was exemplified, by the involvement of elements of the Iranian Government in the 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador here in Washington.
According to the National Counterterrorism Center, the total number of worldwide attacks in 2011 was more than 10,000 in 70 countries, resulting in more than 12,500 deaths.
“But that figure, large as it may be, is a drop of 12 percent from 2010. “ -Mr. Benjamin
Mr. Benjamin cites that the largest number of reported attacks occurred in South Asia and the Near East.
More than 75 percent of the world’s attacks and deaths occurred in these regions, he noted.
“The victims of terrorist attacks remain overwhelmingly Muslim.” -Mr. Benjamin
Africa experienced 978 attacks in 2011, an 11.5 percent increase over the previous year, Mr. Benjamin reported.
Mr. Benjamin also emphasizes that as a result of international pressure and events such as the Arab Awakening, both al-Qaida the organization and al-Qaida the idea are evolving.
Understanding the group’s strengths and weaknesses and the trajectory of its evolution are continuing critical challenges for us and will remain so in the years ahead, he noted.
In June this year, Yemeni city of Shuqra fell to government forces when Yemeni troops took control of the city.
Shuqra is the last major stronghold of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Abyan province to fall to government forces.
Reports say the Yemeni military launched an all-out offensive last month that resulted in the recapture of the towns of Jaar and Zinjibar.
The United States of America commend Yemeni military success against Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula.
The United States commended the success of the Yemeni government, military, and people in re-taking important areas of southern Yemen, including the cities of Ja’ar and Zinjibar, from al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
After sustained Yemeni operations, AQAP no longer controls those cities.
Al-Qa’ida’s presence in Abyan has had a devastating impact on the citizens there and prevented the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance desperately needed by the Yemeni people.
The United States extended its deepest condolences for those who lost their lives and note the courageous efforts of Yemeni citizens who joined with the Yemeni military in the fight against terrorism.
As Yemeni security services continue to reclaim territory previously held by AQAP, the United States has encourages the prompt restoration of civilian authority, humanitarian relief, and essential public services across Yemen.
The United States remains committed to working with Yemen as it addresses the many challenges it faces in the security realm as well as political, economic, and humanitarian affairs.
The US government will continue to work with President Hadi and the Yemeni people in their efforts to rebuild their nation and ensure long-term stability, safety, and security in Yemen.
In May this year, at least 96 people were killed in a deadly attack in the middle of an army battalion in Sanaa in Yemen.
Reports say a suicide bomber wearing Yemeni soldier uniform detonated explosives under his uniform in the middle of an army battalion in the capital Sanaa, killing dozens of troops.
The Al-Qaeda reported claimed it was responsible for a suicide bombing.