U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday al-Qaida is “on the path to defeat” and that the United States will not relent until the job is done.
But she added the reported new terrorist threat against New York or Washington to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary should come as no surprise, and is a continuing reminder of the stakes in the struggle against violent extremism.
“We are taking this threat seriously," Clinton said. "Federal, state and local authorities are taking all steps to address it. And of course making it public, as was done yesterday, is intended to enlist the millions and millions of New Yorkers and Americans to be the eyes and ears of vigilance.”
Police in New York and Washington, D.C. are on high alert after the federal government Thursday confirmed there is what officials call a credible threat of an al-Qaida terrorist attack in the two cities this weekend.
Speaking at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice Friday, Clinton said Americans should proceed with their lives as usual but be part of the “great network of unity and support against terrorism" that has emerged over the past decade.
Clinton said the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in May put the al-Qaida terrorism network on the path to defeat but more must be done.
“To truly defeat a terror network, we need to attack its finances, recruitment and safe havens," she said. "We need to take on its ideology, counter its propaganda and diminish its appeal so that every community recognizes the threat that extremists pose to them.”
The secretary said terrorism can take root in zones of crisis and poverty and flourish under repression, and said there can be no bigger rebuke to al-Qaida than the “Arab Spring” uprisings in the Middle East.
“So it is very much in the interests of the United States to support the development of strong and stable democracies in the region. That is what we are doing, and we are trying to assist both the people and the transitional governments to create economic opportunity and embrace the rule of law.”
She said there are some countries that still allow their territory to be used by terrorist financiers and facilitators.
“This is like planting weeds in your garden and then acting surprised when they choke the flowers. It is counter-productive and ultimately self-defeating, and we will continue to argue against such practices in public and private.”
In a new initiative, Clinton said the United States and Turkey will be founding co-chairs of a Global Counterterrorism Forum, which will initially include 28 other countries and share expertise and best practices in the terrorism fight.