Washington: Even as terrorism emanating from Yemen is a major security concern for the US, a top Obama administration official has said al Qaeda core in Pakistan remains an "extraordinarily formidable and dangerous terrorist organisation" targeting America.
"Terrorism emanating from Yemen is a major security concern for the United States, but the al Qaeda core in Pakistan remains an extraordinarily formidable and dangerous terrorist organisation whose targeting of the United States continues despite the pressure that the group is under in the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas," State Department Counter-terrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin said.
Referring to a recent Washington Post story which claimed that government officials now rank al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and specifically in Yemen, as the most urgent threat to United States security; even a greater threat than the al Qaeda core in Pakistan, Benjamin said the US has no such rankings.
“Let me just say for the record that we have no such rankings, and such statements are of little value except to highlight a threat," Benjamin said in his remarks at the US Institute of Peace, a Washington-based think-tank.
"As we`ve seen over the last year, though, I think it`s also important to note that the threat, the terrorist threat, continues to evolve in ways that make a purely geographical focus less and less important.”
“So we need to put away the ranking tables and turn our attention specifically to the danger and the nature of the threat," he said.
"The gravity of the AQAP threat was clear to the Obama administration from day one, and it has been focused on Yemen since the outset. In the spring of 2009, the administration initiated a full-scale review of our Yemen policy.”
“That review led to a new whole-of-government approach to Yemen that aims to coordinate our counter-terrorism efforts, as well as our non-counterterrorism efforts, with those of other international actors," he said.
"Our new strategy seeks to address the root causes of instability and to improve governance. And central to this approach is building the capacity of Yemen`s government to exercise its authority and deliver security and services to its people," Benjamin said.
Within the Gulf, he said AQAP has already shown itself to be a formidable threat to Yemen itself, with many recent attacks on security services throughout the country.
"And it continues to target Saudi Arabia, including the attempted attack against the assistant minister of the interior and counter-terrorism chief, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef," he said.