Al-Qaeda considers Afghan a continuing safe haven for its leadership, relying on its long-standing strong relationship with the Taliban.
New York: Al-Qaeda "remains resilient" and continues to cooperate closely with Pakistan-based terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani Network, but the health of its leader Aiman Muhammed al-Zawahiri and how the succession will work are in doubt, according to a UN report.
The 24th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team was submitted to the UN Security Council Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee here this month.
The sanctions monitoring team submits independent reports every six months to the Security Council on the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities.
Al-Qaeda remains resilient, although the health and longevity of its leader, Aiman Muhammed Rabi al-Zawahiri, and how the succession will work are in doubt, it said.
Al-Qaeda considers Afghanistan a continuing safe haven for its leadership, relying on its long-standing and strong relationship with the Taliban, it said.
Under Taliban patronage, Al-Qaeda is keen to strengthen its presence in Badakhshan Province, in particular in the Shighnan area bordering Tajikistan, as well as in Barmal, in Paktika Province, it added.
"Al-Qaeda continues to cooperate closely with Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani Network. Al-Qaida members continue to function routinely as military and religious instructors for the Taliban, the report said.
It further noted that the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is reported to be moving towards a hub-and-spoke network in its remote provinces, a logical extension of the dispersed, delegated leadership approach.
Better established affiliates are taking on elements of responsibility for lesser ones, channelling funds and assisting with propaganda. Over time, this may have the effect of regionalising the agendas of these networks," the report said.
This has already happened in the case of Al-Qaida, which has long embedded itself in local issues and politics, bringing the group some successes but also some problems, as in Idlib, it stated.
Further, groups aligned with Al-Qaeda are stronger than their ISIL counterparts in Idlib, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, Somalia and much of West Africa. The largest concentrations of active foreign terrorist fighters are in Idlib and Afghanistan, the majority of whom are aligned with Al-Qaeda.
The report, however, noted that ISIL remains much stronger than Al-Qaeda in terms of finances, media profile, current combat experience and terrorist expertise and remains the more immediate threat to global security.
It also stressed that the ability of local authorities to cope with terrorist challenges in Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia remains limited.
Referring to the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka that killed 258 people, the report said that despite the claim of responsibility by ISIL, member state investigations revealed that the ISIL core did not direct or facilitate the attacks, nor did it know about them in advance."
"It was a locally instigated and led attack inspired by ISIL ideology. The bombings aimed to boost the global image of ISIL after its military defeat in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic," it said.