(Associated Press/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

WASHINGTON — Al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain as much of a threat to the U.S. as "it has ever been" after the terrorist group rebuilt itself while the U.S. and other nations focused on destroying ISIS in Iraq and Syria, a State Department official said Thursday.

"Al-Qaeda has been strategic and patient over the past several years," Nathan Sales, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, said at a briefing in Washington. "It's let ISIS absorb the brunt of the world's counterterrorism efforts while patiently reconstituting itself. What we see today is an al-Qaeda that is as strong as it has ever been."

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President Donald Trump has ramped up airstrikes against al-Shabab in Somalia. (Associated Press/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

The U.S. military could be guilty of war crimes in Somalia, according to a new report that challenges what the government says about civilian casualties from its bombing campaign against al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate, in the African nation.

The investigation, conducted by Amnesty International, found that US airstrikes from both drones and manned aircraft killed at least 14 civilians and injured seven more people in just five of more than 100 strikes in the past two years.

"The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes," the Amnesty report said.

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Major Jahara Matisek, USAF, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Military and Strategic Studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. William Reno is a Professor in the Political Science Department at Northwestern University.

If one accepts that the American military is the most powerful armed force in human history, why does it have a mixed record when it comes to building up foreign armies in weak states?

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Screengrab via Sony Pictures

FORT DRUM — A fierce battle involving Fort Drum soldiers in Somalia began on Oct. 3, 1993, with a radio transmission — “black hawk down.”

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Photo via DoD

In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, the United States set out to destroy al Qaeda. President George W. Bush vowed to “starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.”

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U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Joel Pfiester

The U.S. conducted a precision airstrike against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Libya on June 13 near the town of Bani Walid, U.S. Africa Command announced on Thursday, the third airstrike against two different militant groups in the country in the recent months.

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