Groups affiliated with al Qaeda have grown in strength over the last year, prompting new challenges for the Obama White House that has touted its record in fighting terror groups.
President Obama declared al Qaeda on the run following the death of Osama bin Laden, but that assessment is being called into question now that the group has been caught planning a major terrorist attack.
“The obituary for al Qaeda has been proclaimed year in and year out ever since 2001. It’s proven premature in every case,” said Bruce Riedel, director of the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project.
The U.S. has closed 19 U.S. embassies across the Middle East and North Africa in response to the threat, which was reportedly traced back to Ayman al Zawahiri — the man who took bin Laden’s place as global leader of al Qaeda.
While experts say the conflict in Syria and reverberations from the Arab Spring have provided new fuel to extremists groups, the White House insists al Qaeda remains far weaker than it was when Obama took office.