House targets Obama claim that al Qaeda is ‘on the path to defeat’

Two House committees are holding hearings next week to examine the resurgence of al Qaeda in the Middle East as Republicans question President Obama’s contention that the terror group is “on the path to defeat.”

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on “al Qaeda, its affiliates and associated groups” on Tuesday, followed by a House Foreign Affairs hearing on al Qaeda’s resurgence in Iraq on Wednesday.

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"Al-Qaeda controls more territory today than it ever has before, and much of that is in western Iraq where it has recently captured significant cities,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a statement announcing the hearing.

The pair of back-to-back hearings on al Qaeda next week comes after the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing earlier this month specifically on the administration’s “al Qaeda narrative.”

“Today, the president’s rhetoric on the threat of al Qaeda and its franchises are in stark contrast to the reality we are witnessing in the Middle East and Northern Africa,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said at the hearing. “I believe this false narrative greatly endangers our national security.”

Republicans criticized the president after al Qaeda affiliate groups took over territory in western Iraq, including the city of Fallujah, where some of the largest U.S. casualties took place during the Iraq War.

Obama has maintained that “core al Qaeda” is on the run thanks to U.S. efforts to go after the group’s leaders, but that the threat is evolving with the rise of affiliate groups.

“While we put al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world,” Obama said at the State of the Union this week.

Director of national Intelligence James Clapper told Congress Wednesday that the threat from al Qaeda is not any less than it was before 9/11 because of the dispersion.

“I can't say that the threat is any less,” Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a hearing on global threats. “I think our ability to discern it is much improved over what it was in the early part of the 2000 period. So, I think that dispersion and decentralization actually creates a different threat and a harder one to watch and detect because of its dispersion.”