Al Qaida, despite an offensive by the regime of President Bashar Assad, has been expanding throughout Syria, a report said.
A U.S. think tank asserted that Al Qaida militias were dominating large areas of Syria and providing services to the majority Sunni community. The Bipartisan Policy Center cited the Nusra Front for the Defense of the Levant, deemed the most active rebel militia in the war on the Assad regime.
“This is something of a first for an Al Qaida affiliate; developing a Mao-like population centric approach to implementing a successful insurgency,” the report, titled “Jihadist Terrorism: A Threat Assessment.” said. The report said the Syrian war could revive Al Qaida throughout the Middle East. Nusra, financed by Gulf sheiks, was said to have been providing social services to Sunnis in central and northern Syria.
“It is too soon to predict the long-term threat posed by Al Qaida and allied groups as the movement is undergoing a transition that may end up proving to be its last gasp,” the report, released on Sept. 9, said. “But the right set of circumstances in the unstable Middle East could also revive the network.”
The report warned that any U.S. effort to arm Sunni rebels could help Nusra and other Al Qaida militias in Syria. One scenario was that these militias would seize heavy weapons supplied by U.S. allies.
Another scenario was that Nusra would infiltrate pro-Western rebel militias and establish a presence in the United States. The report said this could facilitate any Al Qaida attack against an American city.
“The continued attempts and successes by foreign militant groups to establish support networks in the United States pose a potential future threat, as individuals sending funds to terrorist groups abroad could conceivably be directed to conduct attacks domestically, while American citizens fighting abroad may return to commit terrorism inside the United States,” the report said.