AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
WASHINGTON: ISI says it tipped off CIA on LadenNearly a year after a US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, his core al-Qaeda network in Pakistan is ‘essentially gone’ but its affiliates remain a threat, US intelligence officials said yesterday.
Bin Laden’s death last year further weakened al-Qaeda and it was unlikely the terror group could stage another strike on the scale of the attacks of September 11, 2001, a counterterrorism official told reporters.
“It’s really hard to imagine Al-Qaeda core gathering together the resources, the training, the talent, the money to repeat a 9/11 type of attack,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
While it was ‘too soon to declare victory’, the official said ‘some could argue that the organisation that brought us 9/11 is essentially gone’. But ‘the movement certainly survives, the ideology of the global jihad survives, Bin Laden’s philosophy, that survives in a variety of places outside of Pakistan’, the official added.
Among al-Qaeda’s affiliates, the group’s branch in Yemen posed the greatest danger to the United States and has gained in strength while producing ‘widespread and effective’ propaganda, the official said.
Al-Qaeda’s ‘decentralisation’ meant the bulk of terror attacks in the future would be carried out by the group’s regional affiliates, said Robert Cardillo, deputy director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
As the network evolves, there will likely be disagreement among leaders about pursuing a global campaign of attacks or focusing more on local targets where regional branches are based, Cardillo said.
He predicted a ‘vigorous debate about local versus global jihad within and among terrorist organisations’.
The clearest evidence of the decline of al-Qaeda’s ‘core’ was ‘the reduced threat of a mass-casualty attack’, he said. Cardillo reiterated previous US intelligence assessments that a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack on the United States by al-Qaeda was unlikely in the next year.
While the danger of an elaborate, large-scale attack had diminished, the threat of so-called ‘lone wolves’ inspired but not directed by al-Qaeda still present a challenge to counterterrorism efforts, officials said.
Attacks such as the shooting spree last month in France by militant gunman Mohamed Merah and a 2009 homegrown assault at Fort Hood in Texas are difficult to disrupt.
“People like Merah who act on their own, who equip themselves with weapons, who decide to act essentially on their own timing and at their own targets, are truly the most difficult targets we face,” the counterterrorism official said.
ISI says it tipped off CIA on Laden
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s intelligence service believes it deserves credit for helping US spy agencies locate the hideout of Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US commandos nearly a year ago, The Washington Post reported. “The lead and the information actually came from us,” an unnamed senior official with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate told The Post. The al-Qaeda founder and 9/11 mastermind was killed on May 2 last year in a secret US Navy SEAL operation in a walled-off compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, north of the Pakistani capital. Washington and Islamabad are now working to repair their relationship, which was badly damaged by the revelation that the world’s most wanted man was living a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s elite
military academy. “Any hit on al-Qaeda anywhere in the world has happened with our help,” The Post quotes one of the Pakistani intelligence officials as saying.