Panel to HASC: Fighting Islamic State, Al Qaeda Could Take 15 More Years

Panel to HASC: Fighting Islamic State, Al Qaeda Could Take 15 More Years by John Grady, USNI News

Al Qaeda and the Islamic State could reconcile their differences to present a different but persistent security challenge to the United States for the foreseeable future, three experts in counterterrorism told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

One goal of both groups, Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, is locking the United States “in an enervating war of attribution.”

“We’re going to have to do [counter jihadist terrorism] for the next 15 years, at least,” he said. In answer to a question about al Qaeda, he added its leaders “never moved away from [launching] a massive attack on the U.S,” Michael Sheehan, distinguished chair at the Combating Terrorism Center at the Military Academy said. He included the use of weapons of mass destruction in that assessment. The big attack “is part of their DNA.”

But “we can’t expend all our efforts on this,” noting threats from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, he said.

Hoffman added al Qaeda has sent some of its senior leaders to Syria, known as the Khorasan Group, to strengthen its hand and also launched a major recruiting effort on the India subcontinent to extend its influence there.

He added that even though the Islamic State is losing territory and taking high casualties in Iraq and Syria it is now operating in 18 countries through its affiliates…

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