Harman: Who’s out there trying to do us harm?
October 17th, 2013
12:03 PM ET

Harman: Who’s out there trying to do us harm?

Editors Note: Jane Harman is director, president and chief executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a nine-term congresswoman from California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee from 2002 to 2006, and a principal coauthor of the Intelligence Reform Law of 2004 and the FISA Amendments of 2008.

By Jane Harman, Special to CNN

The October 5 takedown of Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai – an alleged perpetrator of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, a long-standing occupant of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, and alleged one-time member of Osama bin Laden’s security team – surprised many.

It was a brilliantly successful operation conducted by our military under strict legal guidelines for capture, interrogations, arrest and now transfer to New York for trial. This process may be the new gold standard for CT operations going forward.

U.S. officials hope he will provide useful information about his al Qaeda colleagues and plots being planned against Western and American targets so we may be able to thwart future attacks.

But while this capture was picture-perfect, al Ruqai was only one of many terrorists currently on the loose.

As 9/11 becomes a more distant memory, it is tempting to assume that the threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates has dissipated. It has certainly changed; but the fact that it has become more diffuse, more varied and more geographically specific shouldn't make us think the threat has gone away. It may have shifted, but it is still lethal and widespread.

Who’s out there still trying to do us harm? Here are seven of the deadliest terror groups on the planet:

1. Al Qaeda Central, based in Pakistan, is shielded by armed extremist groups there, including the Taliban and Lashkar e Taiba. While most of the organization’s members have been killed, its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is actively encouraging attacks on the West rather than organizing them directly. He is being advised by American citizen Adam Gadahn, who has unique insight into what messages appeal to the youth of America. Adnan el Shukrijumah, a Saudi who grew up in the United States, is also on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, and remains at large. He is allegedly responsible for al Qaeda North America operations. Shukrijumah allegedly helped orchestrate an attempted attack on New York’s JFK airport in 2007 and the New York Subway plot in 2009.

It is unclear whether AQ Central will take the opportunity to rebuild and expand its organization after 2014 when NATO forces leave Afghanistan, but we must prepare for the possibility that America might once again face a significant threat from the lawless areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

2. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, is most likely to succeed in attacking the West. AQAP was responsible for the 2009 Christmas Day attempted “Underwear” bomb plot against a U.S. airline, the 2010 attempted printer cartridge bomb plot, and the second attempt at an “Underwear” bomb plot in 2012.

It is digitally savvy, and produces “Inspire” magazine – an online recruitment periodical that provides instructions for improving tradecraft, constructing basic bombs and propaganda about terrorism. Originally advised by American citizen Anwar al Awlaki, Nasir al Wuhayshi now leads the group. He is also considered a “general manager” for AQ Central under Zawahiri. Communications between these two men revealed a plot by AQAP to target U.S. embassies – that resulted in a State Department order for massive closures across the Middle East in August.

AQAP is also home to Ibrahim al Asiri, the notorious bombmaker, who is still at work in his lab creating bombs that are harder for security services to track and identify. To help fund its operations, AQAP is kidnapping European aid workers for ransom.

3. The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, in Iraq, is led by Ibrahim Ali al Badri. ISIS is the successor group to al Qaeda in Iraq, which was created in 2003 after the U.S. invasion. Abu Musab al Zarqawi led the organization until his death in 2006, which conducted suicide bombings against U.S. forces and large Shia populations as well as brutal beheadings. AQI planned the 2005 bombing of American hotels in Amman, Jordan. Last year, ISIS carried out more than 30 bombings in Iraq; this year it conducted a large Abu Ghraib jail break. ISIS funds al Nusra and Ahrar al Sham operations in Syria.

4. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. AQIM has attacked convoys of foreign nationals working in the energy sector, detonated a car bomb outside the Algiers U.N. office and attacked the Israeli embassy in Mauritania with small arms. AQIM also claimed credit for killing American Christopher Leggett, a missionary. Abu Wadoud is AQIM’s leader, and has allied the group with Ansar al Dine in Mali and Algeria and Boko Haram in Nigeria, which has provided militants for training in AQIM camps. Ominously, after the attack on Westgate mall in Kenya, AQ Central considers Africa an area for expansion.

5. Ansar al Sharia is a militia composed of Salafi groups across North Africa. The Libya arm was formed during the civil war, and is now known for the attack on 9/11/12 that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi. Few feel it can reach beyond Libya, but it is still an agile force that can attack at a moment’s notice.

6. Al Shabaab, of Somalia, recently carried out the attacks at Westgate mall in retribution for Kenya’s role in driving Shabaab out of Somalia. At least one of the attackers – Khattab al-Kene – is an American citizen. Leader Ahmed Godane has called for more attacks – and we should listen. Godane helped carry out the 2010 World Cup bombing in Kampala, Uganda, and had his two predecessors in the organization killed. Al Shabaab recruits new fighters and raises funds largely from Somali immigrants in Europe and the United States, who could enter the country with a “clean” passport and no record making it hard to identify these individuals before an attack. The FBI reports that approximately 30 Americans have joined al Shabaab; three have carried out suicide bombings in Somalia.

7. Boko Haram, of Nigeria, means “Western Education is Sinful.” The group has attacked high schools and colleges in Nigeria, killing a large number of students and teachers. The latest attack on an agricultural college in northeastern Nigeria killed 78 students. Though Boko Haram seems most interested in attacking their own citizens, there is concern that the group could begin to attack foreigners in Nigeria. The State Department is offering a $7 million reward for the capture of the leader Abubakar Shekau.

The threats out there are very real. As this survey shows, they are also spread across a wide area and many countries. They work on many levels: direct physical threats to Americans, but also threats to many of our friends and allies and their neighbors, including political, propaganda and psychological threats.

As the problem becomes more diverse, so our response needs to be more flexible and sophisticated. Talking about a "war on terror" is counterproductive because it is misunderstood as a war on Muslims; and because "war" doesn't sum up the effort that is called for. Of course, a kinetic dimension is critical. But precisely because the threat is diverse and political, our response must be, too.

As conflicts rage in Syria and Egypt, and failing governments plague North Africa, many are being trained and radicalized. The challenge is to shore up governments, provide tools for police training, schools and economic development, and counter extreme messages, before the bad guys can mobilize further.

Filed under: Al Qaeda • AQAP • Boko Haram • Libya • Terrorism • Yemen
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Sabine Ahmed

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    June 6, 2021 at 4:21 am | Reply
  2. Nickolas Nuccitelli

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though


    June 1, 2021 at 9:57 am | Reply
  3. Robin Strieker

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life websites and blogs


    May 11, 2021 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  4. Bryankch

    escort tips females

    everybody under the sun starts up their whole job opportunity at the age of 20 and also rather busy for several 10 long periods of time or so, and doesn't look into their valuable presence as well as principle partner. should they get the, they are unwanted listed above 30 approximately. some people fight to find a partner as of this later part of the interval. majority of sleepy driving having this difficulty. a person lose your career to purchase a partner. whenever they given situation even worse. hence without having to sacrifice your job nowadays the way to get your second half. you could have no time to see organizations to find the ex. there isn't any problem, internet dating sites will bring you dozens of you're looking for. primary us is certain that contained in the grapefruit tricks and so secrets. extremely valuable in it, however if you make use of it correctly wedding ceremony very bad thing in it. alternatively, an individual about the negative and positive facts in the gift basket. every single single a new relationship practices. In online dating services you could discover out hundreds of people basically where you are that best suits you. so, you narrow meant for calling those people you contact ordinary. but this time the amount of time is limited to love we and to use a happy parents. it becomes clear that all men are negative. however, many may become the perfect pure companies. best Russian daing sites They make the woman online dating services information to followup. You can run into regarding single members and choose in line with the desire and needs. it will be information portraits and / or portfolio that you verify. there will probably be info and / or mobile phone number up to dub. possibilities would be infinite. there are actually weirdoes and consequently erectile searcher in utilizing some online dating sites. like i said previously earlier on the answer of basic of females internet dating depends you. before you choose a site with little review, will be able to in spades fall into a disaster. usually, if you select a site prudently, it is always along with glory. to the present you are forced to study online dating service options, Single matchmaking advice from the free natural resources. utilise online world to realize healthy tools and equipment. All other pursuits are all but abandoned families.

    April 3, 2021 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  5. Marcelino Noe

    I was just looking for this info for a while. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your site. I wonder what's the lack of Google strategy that don't rank this kind of informative websites in top of the list. Usually the top web sites are full of garbage.


    March 6, 2021 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  6. miracle playground equipment grinnell iowa

    gametime commercial playground equipment grant


    February 24, 2021 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  7. Darin Kababik

    Oh my goodness! an incredible article dude. Thank you However I am experiencing concern with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting an identical rss drawback? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx


    February 23, 2021 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  8. Johnyvcw

    Crossoff live up to that special someone by just online dating sites

    for many individuals nowadays in this singles dating scene, event a special someone would find that seeking a needle from the haystack. for all who posses grown discouraging with your local relationships billiards and are looking to meet that special someone, there are many of online dating sites resources which permit easy mingling combined with well matched songs from the comfort of your property charmdate review computer.

    Whether you are considering interview new-fangled company to work with informal talk and as a consequence a good time, Or have the desire to meet an employee for a lasting then totally human relationship, the online world should certainly unquestionably throw open your social population in just a few simple keys to press of your mouse. locations equivalent to Chatroulette but Omegle end up being loved by those who wish to have their making friends the web, As they permit internet marketers at check out variable dating profiles and start up chitchats using a non-public chat and pictures chat with those people people they like. Omegle has been rather new and exciting, when it links people young and old in a totally confidential mode. Both internet directories supply people to act because of chatter to, and are an effective way to chat with people away from world-wide.

    online dating services are an easy way for single ladies who are trying to find authentic in the case a kinship. online dating services hand it over to participants to get his very own summary number of pages that include imagery and in addition extra short bios. these internet websites have recommended uniform dating pertaining to rookies therefore the in many cases can look the site when have registered. Once targeted prospects have created a full guide, They have the freedom to view illustrations in addition to the bios of singles broadcast independent mail messages of curiosity. websites definitely offer subscribers to take part in video media chat with, Which is a sensible way to get to know someone ahead appointment scheduling a nose to nose time frame.

    when you are upset with each other love lives, do get away from. trash, dirt some seafood like fish in the ocean, And the online world is a perfect area to meet accurate go well with. take a chance at appreciation with the many options at dating foreign girls, as the mr. Or feel the loss of Right might well be closer than you think.

    January 27, 2021 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  9. popseal

    When Baptist youth from Kansas start blowing up Presbyterians in Texas to make converts, I'll stop profiling all Muslims . Does anybody really believe the so-called moderate Muslims meet every week to pray for the West to kill their more aggressive brethren???? CNN and PBS want us to believe that kind of crapola..................

    November 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  10. joe d

    jane harmon..AIPAC owned pigggg..she has no credibilty..just a shill for the feces called israel

    October 18, 2013 at 10:19 am | Reply
  11. Phelix Unger

    Keep working the intelligence, find and deat with the problems before thing go astay, some one will always try again but throughtful investigations should provide the answers about the various groups.

    October 18, 2013 at 1:09 am | Reply
  12. John McKane

    If we don't change our stupid foreign policies, there will sooner or later be many more people overseas wishing to do this country harm! We're already the most hated country in the world and through our our own stupidity that will only get worse. Moreover, we're spending ourselves into oblivion over this!

    October 17, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  13. Rhjhjlhkl Jfghhj

    tick tock... tick tock...still waiting...

    October 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Reply
  14. Rhjhjlhkl Jfghhj

    to cycle...

    October 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  15. Rhjhjlhkl Jfghhj

    Uhmm...lets try this again: Iran is the Worlds largest State sponsor of terror...not Jesus he died thousands of years ago. not Mo-ham-id he died in 6th century we are in the 21st Century...its not education as education has all but always existed in human history...its not only terrorists its terrorist networks including self the self radicalized on both sides of the actual terrorist event (a problem not a solution)...America is its own worst enemy, of course (an Ambigious double talking understatement). wait for the robot script...

    October 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  16. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    October 17, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.