‘Al Qaeda in Pak `weaker` than anytime since 9/11’

Al Qaeda`s in Pak is at its weakest since it fled Afghan in 2001, a US review says.

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010, 17:27 PM IST

Washington: Al Qaeda`s senior leadership
based in Pakistan is "weaker" than anytime since the 9/11
attacks and is under "more sustained pressure," US President
Barack Obama`s review of the Af-Pak situation said today.

The review claims significant progress in disrupting and
dismantling the Pakistan-based leadership and cadre of
al Qaeda over the past year.

"Al Qaeda`s senior leadership has been depleted, the
group`s safe haven is smaller and less secure, and its ability
to prepare and conduct terrorist operations has been degraded
in important ways," says a five-page overview of the report,
which is set to be unveiled by Obama.

The annual Af-Pak policy review also says that as a
result of consistent anti-terror measures in the region, the
senior leadership of al Qaeda based in Pakistan "is weaker
than any time after 9/11".

It said that the US strategy for Afghanistan and
Pakistan is centred on "disrupting, dismantling, and
defeating al Qaeda in the theatre and preventing its capacity
to threaten America, its citizens and allies."

"While it will take time to eventually defeat al Qaeda,
we are taking steps to prevent terrorist groups from
regenerating over time or reestablishing a safe haven in
the region that would pose a strategic threat to the US
homeland and to our allies and interests abroad," the report
said.

It said the US remains "relentlessly focused" on
Pakistan-based al Qaeda because of the strategic nature of
the threat posed by its leadership, and in particular the
group`s continued pursuit of large-scale, catastrophic
anti-Western attacks and its influence on global terrorism.

"We believe core al Qaeda continues to view the
United States homeland as its principal target, and events
over the past year indicate some of its affiliates and allies
also are more aggressively pursuing such attacks," it said.

However, the report said: "Most important, al Qaeda`s
senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more
sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled
Afghanistan in 2001."

Al Qaeda`s eventual strategic defeat will be most
effectively achieved through the denial of sanctuaries in the
region and the elimination of the group`s remaining leadership
cadre, it said.

Achieving these goals alone will not completely eliminate
the terrorist threat to US interests, the report said, adding
there are a range of other groups, including some affiliated
with al Qaeda, as well as individuals inspired by al Qaeda.

PTI