New York: A decade after the September
11, 2001 attacks, al Qaeda is deeply isolated, but mutating
and still aims to mount a devastating attack, US President
Barack Obama`s top security anti-terrorism advisor said on late Friday.
John Brennan, the White House counter-terrorism and
homeland security advisor, said the radical Islamist
organization`s senior leadership "is increasingly hunkered
down in its safe haven in Pakistan`s tribal regions."
Speaking at a security conference in New York, Brennan
said al Qaeda was at its "weakest point since 2001" and that
its jihadist ideology had been "rejected by the overwhelming
majority of Muslims."
Popular revolts against authoritarian, mostly secular
governments across the Arab world, he noted, have barely
featured al Qaeda.
"One of the things that is most notable about what`s
going on the Middle East is that al Qaeda has not been
anywhere near the forefront of any of these activities. It is
a populist and for the most part secular phenomenon," Brennan
said at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University
School of Law.
However, according to the White House expert, al Qaeda
"retains the intent and capability to attack the US homeland
as well as our allies" and is mutating into an increasingly
unpredictable presence -- including on US soil.
"Groups and individuals have sprung up in places like
Pakistan, Yemen and North Africa," he said. "We have also seen
this problem begin to manifest itself here at home. A very
small but increasing number of individuals here in the United
States have become captivated by these violent causes."
Brennan warned that al Qaeda "is still determined to
carry out a strategic attack against the United States." Such
an attack "would have grave and major consequences on our
country in terms of loss of life and damage to our economy."