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US steps up attacks against a fractured Al Qaeda from Indonesia to the Horn of Africa

In case you haven’t noticed, the U.S. is working with governments around the world on an  aggressive and coordinated effort to attack Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-inspired movements.

Consider the events GlobalPost correspondents reported just this week:

In Indonesia, Peter Gelling provided authoritative coverage of the country’s elite counter-terrorism force killing Noordin Top, the leader of Indonesia’s answer to Al Qaeda.

In Somalia, six U.S. attack helicopters swept over a convoy of the Al Qaeda-inspired Al Shabaab fighters and killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a leader who has long been wanted by the U.S. in connection with the 1998 attack two U.S. embassies in East Africa. GlobalPost correspondent Tristan McConnell reported from Kenya on how the attacks reveal a dramatic shift in US policy to confront Al Qaeda in the failed state of Somalia.

In Yemen, GlobalPost’s Laura Kasinof reported on the air strikes that killed scores of civilians fleeing fighting in northern Yemen where the government forces appear to be succumbing to American pressure to step up the fight against “an increasingly active branch of Al Qaeda in the country,” as she wrote.

The U.S. intelligence community is buzzing about evidence emerging over the summer that Al Qaeda leaders are gathering in Somalia and Yemen and trying to establish a new nexus for operations after Pakistan’s military finally stepped up the pressure on Al Qaeda in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

CIA director Leon E. Panetta publicly revealed this in briefings over the summer.

And an  early warning about this came from Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who spoke at the Brookings Institute in the late spring, saying, “I am very worried about growing safe havens in both Somalia and Yemen, specifically because we have seen Al Qaeda leadership, some leaders, start to flow to Yemen.”

The concentration of violent jihadist campaigns in Yemen and Somalia illustrate that Al Qaeda is a movement not an organization, and the fact that they are trying to shift bases and being hit even as they do so is a sign that they are greatly weakened and scrambling for cover now eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks.