Washington: The killing of US-born Islamic
cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi has weakened Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but the group remains a "significant threat" to the United States, the head of the FBI said Friday.
Awlaqi, the leader of external operations for AQAP and
Samir Khan, a Pakistani-American who was the editor of
Al-Qaeda`s English-language magazine, were killed last week in
a suspected US drone strike in Yemen.
"Despite this blow to their leadership, AQAP remains a
significant threat to the homeland, and we must maintain our
vigilance in responding to this threat," FBI Director Robert
Mueller told the House intelligence committee.
"AQAP has proven its capability to direct attacks into
the United States, and a strike against its leadership, even a
significant one, does not eliminate the potential for
retaliation or other action by AQAP."
Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counter
terrorism Centre, agreed.
"We remain concerned about the group`s intent to attack
Western targets, as well as its propaganda efforts designed to
inspire like-minded Western extremists," Olsen said in his
testimony before the committee.
"And we are monitoring how the loss of Awlaqi and Khan
will affect AQAP`s propaganda machine."
Olsen also expressed concerns about ongoing links between
AQAP and Somalia`s Shebab rebels, who claimed responsibility
for a car bomb attack this week on a government compound in
Mogadishu that left more than 70 people dead.
"I would say that that remains a significant concern, the
potential alliance between Shebab and AQAP," Olsen said,
adding that Awlaqi`s death would have little effect on the
connections between the two.