ISIL may merge with al Qaeda after the collapse of its caliphate

Washington Free Beacon:
While the Islamic State has engaged the United States and its Western partners in a protracted war in Iraq and Syria, al Qaeda has been quietly rebuilding its capacity to strike America, several terrorism experts testified Tuesday.

Officials predicted that al Qaeda's resilience in the Middle East will only escalate amid ISIS's ongoing territorial setbacks, creating the conditions for a merger of the two terrorist groups voluntarily or through force.

Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, warned that any type of cooperation between the two groups would escalate the threat of terrorism worldwide, particularly in western Europe and the United States.

"Al Qaeda's presence in Syria should be regarded as just as dangerous and even more pernicious than that of ISIS," Hoffman testified before the House Armed Services Committee.

"This is the product of [al Qaeda leader Ayman] al-Zawahiri's strategy of letting ISIS take all the heat and absorb all the blows from the coalition raid against it while al Qaeda quietly rebuilds its military strength and basks in its paradoxical new cachet as ‘moderate extremists' in contrast to the unconstrained ISIS," he continued.

Hoffman cited the experience of American journalist Theo Padnos, who was held hostage for two years by al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front. Writing for the New York Times in October 2014, Padnos relayed that the group's senior officials "were inviting Westerners to the jihad in Syria not so much because they needed more foot soldiers — they didn’t — but because they want to teach the Westerners to take the struggle into every neighborhood and subway station back home."
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Both terrorist groups focus on a tactic of mass murders of noncombatants, and that would be their continuing MO if they merge.  Meanwhile, a NY Times columnists recent argued that women were more likely to be killed by their husbands than by terrorists. The US should be able to fight domestic abuse and terrorism at the same time and it is no reason to oppose the common sense vetting that the Trump administration is proposing and that liberals appear to be opposed to.

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