Ever since the bloodthirsty barbarians of the Islamic State launched their campaign of terror across Europe and the United States, posting videos of ritualized beheadings, massacres in nightclubs and music venues, workplaces and even in churches and on streets, fear of the old enemy, al Qaeda, has faded.

The group that attacked the U.S. mainland in coordinated strikes in 2001 against the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and another, unrealized target, in Washington, D.C. seemed to have take a back seat in importance in the years since the U.S. became embroiled in the long wars in Iraq and Syria.

But now, the director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University has come forward in Congressional testimony with concerns about a possible alliance between ISIS and al Qaeda and the massive terror threat such a merger might mean for the West.

The Center’s Director, Bruce Hoffman, told the House Armed Services Committee that any cooperation between the two terror groups would heighten terrorism worldwide.

“Al Qaeda's presence in Syria should be regarded as just as dangerous and even more pernicious than that of ISIS.”

Hoffman and several other terrorism experts told the Committee that al-Qaeda has used the period of time when U.S. attention has been devoted to fighting the war and responding to terror attacks by ISIS to “quietly rebuild its capacity” to hit America.

ISIS has suffered losses of territory in the Middle East in the past year, which the experts say serves to create conditions for the two radical Islamic terror groups to join forces.

“This is the product of [al Qaeda leader Ayman] al-Zawahiri’s strategy of letting ISIS take all the heat and absorb all the blows from the coalition raid against it while al Qaeda quietly rebuilds its military strength and basks in its paradoxical new cachet as ‘moderate extremists’ in contrast to the unconstrained ISIS,” Hoffman said in his testimony.

According to Hoffman, al-Zawahiri has purposely maintained a low profile for al Qaeda while the U.S. and its allies poured resources into containing ISIS under the Obama administration, waiting for the right circumstances to take over ISIS itself or join forces and create a sort of “super terror group.”

One of the other terror experts, Brian Michael Jenkins, a security expert at the RAND Corporation, also testified and warned that the actions being conducted against ISIS in Iraq and Syria would only serve to sustain terrorist activity elsewhere in the Middle East, Europe and in the United States.

Jenkins said the strikes by the Western coalition will not vanquish ISIS or end the fighting but would have the effect of forcing the terror groups to go underground or go back to their own regions to launch more attacks.

So far, Islamic terrorists have made gains infiltrating Western Europe by blending in with Iraqi and Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn homelands.

President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order placing a temporary travel ban on people coming into the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iraq, pending improved vetting procedures by U.S. security and immigration agencies, and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees was set to address national safety concerns presented by unrestricted immigration.

A federal judge in Seattle, Washington put the Order on hold after anti-immigration groups sued, claiming that Trump was discriminating against Muslims and that the ban was unconstitutional.

The matter may go to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final decision, but that will take time as it wends its way through the federal judicial system, but in the meantime… al Qaeda and ISIS may well be plotting their next moves with all the terrifying fanatical hatred they hold for America.

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