News / USA

Al-Qaida 'Decimated,' says US Counterterrorism Chief

John Brennan exits a daily news briefing at the White House, May 2, 2011
John Brennan exits a daily news briefing at the White House, May 2, 2011

The Obama administration has laid out a new national counterterrorism strategy.  In a speech Wednesday, the administration’s top counterterrorism advisor outlined a plan of beefing up cooperation with other countries to keep pressure on what he says is a seriously weakened al-Qaida terror organization.  

Al-Qaida in decline

Speaking at The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said increased pressure on al-Qaida has paid off.  He said the United States and partners like Pakistan and Yemen have greatly weakened al-Qaida, strangling its finances and decimating its leadership ranks, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of a U.S. raiding party.

"Taken together, the progress I’ve described allows us - for the first time - to envision the demise of al-Qaida’s core leadership in the coming years.  It will take time, but make no mistake - al-Qaida is in its decline.  This is by no means meant to suggest that the serious threat from al-Qaida has passed; not at all," he said.

Brennan said al-Qaida might still try to mount revenge attacks for bin Laden’s death.  He said that with the weakening of the South Asian-based al-Qaida parent organization, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula still poses a significant threat.

Brennan, a former CIA officer, said the so-called "Arab Spring" democracy movements have undermined al-Qaida’s ideology and its ability to attract new recruits.

"This, obviously, is also the first counterterrorism strategy to reflect the extraordinary political changes that are sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.  It’s true that these changes may bring new challenges and uncertainty in the short-term, as we are seeing in Yemen.  It also is true that terrorist organizations, and nations that support them, will seek to capitalize on the instability that change can sometimes bring," he said.

New strategy


The newly released strategy document that Brennan outlined in his speech cites four core principles for U.S. counterterrorism efforts:  adhering to American core values, building resilience to recover from a successful attack, building counterterrorism partnerships with other nations, and using the proper tools and capabilities in attacking terrorists.  It adds that the United States has security partnerships with countries that do not share American values or even regional and global security views, but only a mutual desire to defeat al-Qaida.  Nevertheless, it adds, counterterrorism partnerships allow the United States to demonstrate values of human rights and responsible governance.

Partnership with Pakistan


Brennan said different threats require different responses in different places.  He said that as frustrating as the partnership with Pakistan has sometimes been, it nevertheless is critical to success against al-Qaida.  And Brennan added that the United States will keep applying the pressure against al-Qaida, as necessary.

"In some places, such as the tribal regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, we will deliver precise and overwhelming force against al-Qaida," he said. "Whenever possible, our efforts around the world will be in close coordination with our partners.  And when necessary, as the president has said repeatedly, if we have information about the whereabouts of al-Qaida, we will do what is required to protect the United States - as we did with bin Laden."

Brennan said that to his knowledge Pakistan’s leaders were unaware that the world’s most wanted terrorist was hiding in a compound not far from Pakistan’s academy for educating military officers.  But he added that would not be surprising because bin Laden and his associates were extraordinarily careful.

"That’s not to say that there weren’t elements in the Pakistani broad establishment that were knowledgeable, that provided assistance," he said. "But looking at that situation, bin Laden and the people at that compound practiced absolutely phenomenal OPSEC [i.e., operational security].  He was there for six years.  To our knowledge, he never left that compound once he got there."

Brennan said material seized in bin Laden’s compound shows the terrorist chief was worried about al-Qaida’s long-term viability, with calls for more large-scale attacks against the United States running into resistance from his followers.  

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More