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Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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After nearly a decade and a half of combating Al Qaeda AQ in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States faces an increasingly diverse threat from Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East and Africa. While senior Al Qaeda figures reportedly remain based in Pakistan, the network maintains a number of affiliates across the Middle East and Africa including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula AQAP, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb AQIM, and Al Shabaab. Al Qaeda also retains a small but growing presence in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have stated that Al Qaeda still maintains a foothold in Syria through its ties to Jabhat Fatah al Sham formerly known as the Nusra Front. This report examines the threat posed by Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East and Africa as described by U.S. officials and outside observers, as well as the U.S. approach to date in responding to the threat posed by individual groups.

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