As ISIS fades, Al Qaeda reemerging as threat, counter-terrorists warn

Speakers at an Israeli conference warn of the global menace the extremist Islamic group still poses.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prominent counter-terrorism specialists at an international conference in Herzliya cautioned their audience that the extremist organization that murdered nearly 3,000 people in the 9/11 attack has regrouped and is a global threat again, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

Security experts from the FBI, U.S. Army, and Europe said that after years of being sidelined by ISIS, Al Qaeda is not only back but stronger than ever.

Speaking at IDC Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s annual conference on Monday, Jay Tabb from the FBI said that Al Qaeda and its partners number 20,000 worldwide adherents – more than they have ever had before.

At the conference, titled ‘Terrorism 2020: Understand the Present, Prepare for the Future,’ former U.S. cyber command deputy chief Lt.-Gen. (res.) Vincent Stewart said that all Al Qaeda had to do in order to paralyze a country’s infrastructure was to pay enough to expert hackers to break into its systems.

The West simply has a false sense of security, he said, because the group has not yet committed a cyberattack. But no one had ever imagined using airplanes to take down office towers before Al Qaeda did it in 2001, either, he said.

The warning regarding Al Qaeda’s reemergence isn’t new. U.N. security experts handed the Security Council a report in mid-2018 saying that the terror organization had a strong presence in Somalia, Yemen and South Asia, that its leadership was gaining more favor in Iran, and that it should be an issue of concern in the West.

“Improved leadership and enhanced communication will probably increase the threat over time, as will a rise in the tendency, already visible in some regions, of ISIL [another name for ISIS] supporters to join Al Qaeda,” said the report.

The ICT conference had multiple sessions on global terrorist threats on Monday and Tuesday that included top Israeli political figures, such as Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, Ehud Barak, Ayelet Shaked and Benny Gantz .

The summit also conducted a memorial ceremony for the victims of global terrorism in general and of 9/11 in particular.