Washington: White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan says al Qaeda is "on a steady slide" after the death of al Qaeda`s second-in-command in Pakistan.
Brennan said it was a "huge blow", in the first official White House comment since Atiyah Abd al-Rahman`s reported killing by CIA drone strike in Pakistan`s tribal areas last week.
"Al Qaeda is sort of on the ropes and taking a lot of shots to the body and the head," Brennan said on Wednesday.
"This is a time not to step back and let them recover," a message he says he is sending to his counterparts in Pakistan.
In a wide-ranging interview, Brennan credited aggressive US action against militants from Pakistan to Yemen as the main reason US intelligence has detected no active terror plots before the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
He described the counterterror relationship with Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq as models of how the US will fight al Qaeda in the future, in which the lion`s share of the hunting and fighting is done by the host nation.
He said the US was looking ahead to crafting a similar model in Afghanistan as US troops draw down there, whereas in Iraq and Yemen, US intelligence and special operations forces work with their counterparts, providing training, equipment and sharing intelligence to track terror targets and keep them under pressure.
"If they`re worrying about their security... they`re going to have less time to plot and plan," Brennan said of the militants.
"They`re going to be constantly looking over their shoulder or up in the air or wherever, and it really has disrupted their operational cadence and ability to carry out attacks."
He pointed to the killing of Al-Rahman as an example of how US pressure was degrading the network.
"There`s no longer a management grooming program there. They don`t stay in place long enough," Brennan said.