Shifting al-Qaeda alliances prove ominous for U.S. interests

The recent attempts to explode packages aboard U.S.-bound airliners, linked to elements within the terrorist organization al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), underscore the perpetual danger posed by radical Islamists and their ideological brethren.

Not relegated solely to attacks against Western interests, AQAP has leveled a series of regional attacks aimed at local government and civilian populations, most recently an attack aimed at a procession of Shiite worshipers that killed dozens.

These dual attacks, and the divergent nature of their respective targets, illustrates the global threat that now often defines terrorist organizations whose interests once ostensibly revolved around regional disputes.

This blending of objectives can be seen in the realignment of terrorist organizations whose respective goals were once quite separate and distinct. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Shabaab in Somalia, respectively, illustrate this phenomenon and the often deadly implications such realignments can have for the U.S. and its interests both at home and abroad.

Emerging as an offshoot of the radical Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in 2006, al-Shabaab formed under the auspices of countering and repelling the emergent Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia. The TFG, having assumed control of large swathes of southern Somalia that were previously under the jurisdiction of the militant ICU, was fiercely opposed by al-Shabaab, which aimed to reinstall a government committed to a virulent Islamist ideology.

Full article at The Foundry