WASHINGTON - A weakened al-Qaida has the potential for resurgence in Syria, where the turmoil of civil war could help revive one of the group's close affiliates, a report by a US think tank said on Monday.
"It is too soon to predict the long-term threat posed by al-Qaida and allied groups as the movement is undergoing a transition that may end up proving to be its last gasp; but the right set of circumstances in the unstable Middle East could also revive the network," the Bipartisan Policy Center's Homeland Security Project said in the report called "Jihadist Terrorism: A Threat Assessment."
One of the most effective Syrian rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad is the Nusra Front, effectively a branch of al-Qaida. Opponents of President Barack Obama's plan to attack Syria point out that hitting Syrian government forces in response to a chemical weapons attack last month might end up helping Nusra.
"Al-Qaida's future rises and falls in Syria to some extent," said Peter Bergen, an al Qaeda expert and one of the co-authors of the threat assessment. "We can look around the world - there are actually a lot of places they're not doing well. But clearly they're doing very well in Syria."