A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on March 17, 2012, shows fire fighters at the scene following a two bomb attacks on security buildings in the heart of the Syrian capital Damascus which killed several people, state television said. AFP PHOTO/HO

The group that claimed responsibility for a double-suicide bombing that killed 27 people in Syria is widely regarded as a front organization for al-Qaeda in Syria. The Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant, which claimed responsibilities for the attacks, bears all the marks of another bin Laden wannabe group.

The intentional slaughter of innocents, no matter what the cause, cannot be justified. Al-Nusra is just as much an enemy of freedom as the Assad regime is. Both ought to rate a special place in Dante’s down-under real estate.

That said, we ought not be surprised about developments in Syria. Everywhere in the Islamic world where turmoil has opened up opportunity, al-Qaeda has rushed to fill the vacuum—Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia being the most notable cases.

In other cases, al-Qaeda has not scored a beach-hold mostly because others beat them to the beach. That is certainly the case in Palestine with Hamas and Lebanon with Hezbollah. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and its ilk may not share al-Qaeda’s methods, but they have cornered the market in pushing the Islamist agenda.

Al-Qaeda in Syria is just the latest reminder that the group is not simply the would-be transnational terrorist attack squad the Obama Administration wants to fight. More than simply trying to attack Times Square, al-Qaeda remains a claimant to leadership of a global Islamist insurgency.

If the United States doesn’t take its leadership role as the head of the coalition battling the insurgency seriously, then, like the Terminator, al-Qaeda will “be back.” The U.S. needs a better strategy.