Al Qaeda has roundly rejected U.S. assessments that it is in decline, though the terrorist organization also failed to acknowledge a major challenge to its global leadership: ISIS. “Whatever slip-ups or errors [regional branches] may have [sic] committed are limited in number in the midst of mountains of good deeds and successes,” said al Qaeda veteran Hossam Abdul Raouf in an online message released Sunday. Though the message boasted that al Qaeda has been “expanding horizontally and opening new fronts,” references to ISIS were noticeably absent. In its annual terrorism report, the U.S. State Department said the al Qaeda “core's leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks and direct its followers." Counterterrorism experts also say the aging al Qaeda leadership is struggling to compete with ISIS for young recruits.
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