Washington: President Barack Obama has insisted that the US needs to stay on top of terrorism as violent extremism is still out there even though Washington has been successful in decimating the top al Qaeda leadership.
Obama made these remarks during an interview to the NBC channel when asked about the US decision to shut down nearly two dozen embassies and consulates in North Africa and Middle East because of a specific threat emanating from al Qaeda.
"It`s significant enough we`re taking every precaution. We had already done a lot to bolster embassy security around the world, but especially in the Middle East, North Africa where the threats tend to be highest, and whenever we see a threat stream we think is specific enough that we can take some specific precautions within a certain time frame then we do so," Obama said.
"Now, it`s a reminder that for all the progress we`ve made, getting Bin Laden, putting Al-Qaeda in between Afghanistan and Pakistan back on its heals, then this radical, you know, violent extremism is still out there, and we`ve got to stay on top of it," he said.
Meanwhile, the White House said the core of the alQaeda leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been severely diminished and is on the run.
"There is no question that core al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been severely diminished, its leadership decimated, and there`s no question that it`s on the run," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
"For many years now it has been less organised and less capable of directing attacks on the scale that it was able to do most notably on 9/11. And that remains the case," he said.
Carney said President Obama has noted that the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the path to defeat.
"The threat today is more diffuse, with al Qaeda`s affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, the most active in plotting against our homeland. While none of AQAP`s efforts approach the scale of 9/11, they have continued to plot attacks of terror, like the attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009," he said.
"So what the President said then I think is reflected in what we`re seeing now. When it comes to al-Qaeda core, to the extent that they play a role, it is, in our view, inspirational," he said.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the US considers this to be one of the foremost national security challenges the US face.
"But again, the President pointed to the successes, including the decimation of the core of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we remain concerned about the threat from affiliates, and that`s been our consistent viewpoint," she said.
"The core of al Qaeda that we`ve talked about in the past, that, as we all know, was based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We`ve referred to that, but remain concerned about the threat from affiliates around the world," Psaki said.
In his interview, Obama said the closer of the embassy and consulate is also a reminder of how courageous embassy personnel tend to be because one can never have 100-per cent security in some of these places.
When asked about the travel warning, Obama said the general rule is just show some common sense and some caution.
"So there`s some countries where you`re less likely to experience a terrorist attack. There`s some that are more dangerous and, you know, if people are paying attention, checking with the State Department or embassy, going on the website before you travel and find out what kind of precautions you should be taking, then I think it still makes sense for people to take vacations. They just have to make sure that they are doing so in a prudent way," he said.