Fox | Core Al Qaeda Essentially Gone, Though Still a Threat

Written on:April 29, 2012
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Fox | Core Al Qaeda Essentially Gone, Though Still a Threat

WASHINGTON –  A year after the Navy SEAL  raid that killed Usama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda that carried out the Sept. 11  attacks is essentially gone but its affiliates remain a threat to America, U.S.  counterterrorist officials say.

Core Al Qaeda’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, still aspires to attack the  U.S., but his Pakistan-based group is scrambling to survive, under fire from CIA  drone strikes and lying low for fear of another U.S. raid. That has lessened the  threat of another complex attack like a nuclear dirty bomb or a biological  weapon, the officials say.

Al Qaeda’s loyal offshoots are still dangerous, especially Yemen’s Al Qaeda  in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. While not yet able to carry out complex  attacks inside the U.S., such groups are capable of hitting Western targets  overseas and are building armies and expertise while plotting violence,  according to senior U.S. counterterrorist officials who briefed reporters  Friday.

“Each will seek opportunities to strike Western interests in its operating  area, but each group will have different intent and ability to execute those  plans,” said Robert Cardillo, a deputy director at the Office of the Director of  National Intelligence. The other officials were authorized to speak only on  condition of anonymity.

The shift from a single, deadly group to a more amorphous threat may not seem  much of an improvement. But the U.S. believes that the bin Laden raid and  continued U.S. counterterrorist action have reduced the chance of a  sophisticated, multipronged attack on the U.S. like the attacks of Sept. 11 or  the deadly bombings in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005.



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