By Debbie Gregory.
While U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have been heavily hyped in the media, efforts against al-Qaida have continued in multiple countries. As part of these efforts, two high-profile al-Qaida leaders have recently been reported to have been eliminated by U.S. airstrikes in Yemen and in Libya.
The U.S. reported that a June 12th airstrike conducted in Yemen has eliminated al-Qaida’s second most powerful figure, Nasir al-Wahishi, the terrorist group’s commander of its presence in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. For several years, al-Wahishi served as Osama bin Laden’s personal aide before taking command of al-Qaida in Yemen in 2002. In 2009, al-Wahishi also absorbed control of al-Qaida operations in Saudi Arabia, forming the group al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The deceased is responsible for calling for violence in and against western countries, especially the United States. He was listed as one of the most wanted fugitives listed by the governments of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as well as the U.S.
Al-Wahishi’s death is being heralded as a huge blow to al-Qaida. Not only will a-Qaida suffer the loss of his experience and leadership in Yemen, but losing al-Wahishi also creates a big hole across the entire terrorist organization across the globe.
Also last week, the U.S. carried out airstrikes in Libya, reportedly targeting Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian terrorist who was once an al-Qaida senior leader. He left the group in 2012 to form his own organization called the al-Mulathameen (“The Masked”) Brigade. Belmokhtar’s group is responsible for the January, 2013 Algerian hostage siege. Thirty-nine of the hostages were executed.
On June 15th, Libya’s government announced that Belmokhtar had been killed in the airstrike along with seven others. The U.S. has not yet confirmed Belmokhtar’s death. On June 16th, an Islamist militant group issued a statement denying the claims of Belmokhtar’s demise. No proof of life, or death, has yet been reported, as of this writing.
While similar in the minds of most Americans, al-Qaida and the Islamic State are two vastly different organizations, with differing goals and ideologies. While both are Islamic extremist terrorist groups, the similarity ends there. The two organizations are actually in competition with each other for recruits and other resources. Al-Qaida has declared a Jihad against the west, and the Islamic State is bent on cleansing the world of non-believers and Islamic hypocrites.
Let us continue to hope for success in the ongoing efforts to degrades and ultimately defeat both al-Qaida and the Islamic State in all countries around the world.
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Airstrikes Deliver Blow to al-Qaida: Military Connection: By Debbie Gregory