Al-Qaida thought to be on the decline

According to an annual report to Congress on Tuesday, al-Qaida is in decline around the world while the U.S. faces various interconnected threats, including criminals, terrorists and foreign powers.

Jim Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the leaders of Iran appear prepared to attack U.S. interests overseas if they feel threatened by potential U.S. action. He also said that al-Qaida remains a threat through attacks that are smaller and simpler due to thinned ranks from raids and drone strikes, the Associated Press reports.

“We judge that al-Qaida’s losses are so substantial and its operating environment so restricted that a new group of leaders, even if they could be found, would have difficulty integrating into the organization and compensating for mounting losses,” Clapper said, according to the Associated Press.

According to Clapper, Iran may have the technical ability to construct a nuclear weapon but has not decided to do so yet. Other threats include the North Korean nuclear weapons program, even though it is intended for self-defense, and cyberspace threats from China and Russia. Additionally, Taliban leaders continue to direct an insurgency in Afghanistan from a safe haven in Pakistan. One of the grimmest reviews was saved for Africa, due to extremist attacks in Nigeria, continued fighting in Somalia, and unresolved conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.

“(Africa remains) vulnerable to political crises, democratic backsliding, and natural disasters,” Clapper said, according to the Associated Press.

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