During his interview recently on the Jon Stewart Show, President Obama continued his established narrative that he has driven al-Qaeda into the ground sufficiently that only a few "remnants" of the radical Islamic terrorist organization remain.
A "remnant" is a "small group of surviving people" according to the dictionary. But, remnants don't grow, multiply, and spread. A remnant doesn't extend across a significant portion of the planet.
In the final debate, the President claimed that "al-Qaeda is much weaker than when I came into office."
At the Democratic National Convention – just five days before the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya - and frequently on the campaign trail, Obama brags that he has put al-Qaeda "on its heels."
True enough, Osama bin Laden is dead and other al-Qaeda leaders have joined him. But, the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi is a brutal reminder that radical Islamic terror groups have not disappeared and certainly are not dormant.
"al-Qaeda is not 'on its heels,'" asserts KT McFarland, a National Security Expert and former Reagan Defense Department official. "al-Qaeda and its affiliates are planting the flag into new regions around the globe and are now active in more than 30 countries," says McFarland.
The West Africa nation of Mali is among the latest tragic manifestations of al-Qaeda influence. Northern regions of Mali have been under control of the Islamic radicals since March. Malian military forces assisted by the French military (Mali was a French Colony until 1960) are currently preparing an attempt to retake the region by force.
McFarland's assessment that al-Qaeda is "active in more than 30 countries" certainly exposes the phoniness of the President's contention. So, too, does the following report filed today by Reuters describing the expansive methodology of al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Mali and elsewhere.
Flush with cash, Al Qaeda-linked gunmen - dubbed "gangster-jihadists" by French parliamentarians - are now key players in a web of Islamists and criminal networks recruiting hundreds of locals, including children, and a trickle of foreign fighters. Among the shifting alliances, Al Qaeda's North Africa wing, known as AQIM, has forged links with Malian Tuareg Islamists, and MUJWA, a group that splintered off from AQIM but still operates loosely with it.
The Islamists, who advocate a political ideology based on Islam, are trying to impose a strict form of sharia law. At least three suspected criminals have been stoned to death or executed by firing squad in Mali while several others have had hands and feet amputated.
Almahamoud, a man from Ansongo who was accused - wrongly, he says - of stealing cattle, suffered an amputation in August. "They cut off my hand to make an example of me," he said. "They will continue mutilating people to impose their authority. I don't know how I will live with just one hand."
Traditional, moderate Islamic customs have been crushed. Music is banned, women cover themselves with veils and residents are flogged for smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. Ancient religious shrines central to the Sufi Islam practiced by many Malians have been smashed because they are deemed illegal by the hardliners. Read more.