Al-Qaida Quietly Rakes in ‘Millions’ As US Tightens Noose On ISIS
Al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate raised tens of millions of dollars throughout 2016, which could bedevil the U.S and its allies who are largely focused on the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS).
The group’s financial strength stems from “kidnapping for ransom, a pipeline of foreign donors, and collecting money and other resources from areas it conquers in battle,” a June report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) declares. The group’s funding streams have proven resilient throughout the its nearly five year existence on the complex Syrian battlefield.
Al-Qaida’s affiliate is currently known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The group has changed its name several times and falsely declared to cut ties with the global al-Qaida network in order to court less extreme opposition groups on the ground in Syria. The FDD report explains that HTS’s “financial strength hinges on keeping its image as both a needed armed force rooted in the local Syrian opposition movement and an Islamist, yet more civilian-friendly, alternative to the Islamic State.”
ISIS conversely remains a heavy target of U.S. coalition airstrikes and continues to remain on the backfoot inside Syria. President Donald Trump’s administration recently delivered heavy weapons to Syrian Kurdish fighters, tasked with using them to take ISIS’s capital of Raqqa. International attention continues to be focused on the defeat of the terrorist group with little concern for al-Qaida’s seemingly creeping threat on the ground in the country.
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U.S. officials responsible for the fight in Syria hardly mention Al Qaida, although a few strikes on high level leaders to occur from time to time. The coalition that the U.S. has assembled is even called the “Anti-ISIS” coalition.
HTS remains committed to a “proclamation of an Islamic emirate that would serve as a component of an eventual global al Qaeda caliphate,” Syria expert at the Middle East Institute Charles Lister wrote in a March Foreign Policy explainer. He warned, “HTS’s consistent approach to sustained warfare is lending it an advantage in winning credibility and loyalty on the ground. Its ‘no holds barred’ approach to the fighting is gaining further traction every day.”
“Al Qaeda is intentionally operating below a threshold that would force Washington into a decision-making position,” Katherine Zimmerman, a Research Fellow and Al-Qaida expert at the American Enterprise Institute wrote in a previous email to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Al Qaeda leadership most probably directed groups not to conduct directed, mass-casualty attacks against Western targets in order to prevent Washington from having to decide whether to act against al Qaeda.”
“Al Qaeda is a greater long-term threat than ISIS because of its resiliency,” Zimmerman declared.
Al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate raised tens of millions of dollars throughout 2016, which could bedevil the U.S and its allies who are largely focused on the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS). The gro
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