After a decade of War on Terror, core al Qaeda incapable of another 9/11

Experts believe the core group of al Qaeda suffered setbacks from bin Laden's death and revolutions in the Arab world.


Reuters April 28, 2012

WASHINGTON: Al Qaeda's core organisation is likely incapable of carrying out another mass-casualty attack on the scale of September 11, 2001, US intelligence and counterterrorism officials said on Friday.

US government experts also believe that the likelihood of an attack using chemical, biological, atomic or radiological weapons over the next year was not high, said Robert Cardillo, deputy director of US National Intelligence.

Cardillo and other US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described these assessments on a conference call with journalists billed as an opportunity for government experts to voice their assessments of al Qaeda's potency a year after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a US commando raid.

Cardillo said the al Qaeda "core" organisation that bin Laden created has suffered strategic setbacks due to the outbreak of "Arab Spring" protests and rebellions in Islamic countries, which have not spread great sympathy for al Qaeda's hardline and violent brand of Islam.

More worrying to US counterterrorism officials and their allies abroad is the possibility of home-grown extremists, or "lone wolves," who are radicalised over the Internet or in small cells, but who also now are being given encouragement by media outlets connected to al Qaeda and its affiliates.

While they were unwilling to declare that al Qaeda was on the brink of "strategic defeat," the US officials did say they believed the central organisation founded by bin Laden simply was not capable today of marshalling the kind of resources and planning that went into the deadly suicide airplane hijackings of September 11, 2001.

The officials said that the United States regards four al Qaeda spinoffs or affiliates as still posing threats of greater or lesser degree to US interests.

Most deadly, the officials said, was Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which US officials believe was behind unsuccessful but imaginative attempts to attack continental US targets over the last 18 months using airplane-borne bombs stashed in a passenger's underwear and in photocopier ink cartridges.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, which arose in the wake of the 2003 US invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, remains a potentially lethal presence in that country and may be expanding its activities into neighbouring Syria, though officials did not indicate they believe it poses much of a threat to US interests outside of that region.

US officials said they regarded al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an affiliate based in North Africa, as largely a criminal organisation engaged in kidnapping Westerners for ransom. But they said they were concerned such tactics could evolve into more spectacular kidnappings intended to win publicity for militant causes.

US officials said that after a period in which their struggle became a magnet for disillusioned Islamic youths in both the United States and Europe, al Qaeda's Somali affiliate, al Shabaab, has seen a measurable falloff in Western recruiting and support.

On balance, a counterterrorism official said, it was "clear we've made progress towards defeating al Qaeda the organisation," though elements of both the ideology and the organisation certainly remain, including "a number of active networks in the United Kingdom."

COMMENTS (3)

G. Din | 9 years ago | Reply

@Chimera: "We have amongst us in the US, over five million Moslems, whose only allegiance is to Islam. " Name one other country where it is not true! "Their love for America, her values, customs and traditions is non-existant. " Name one other country where it is not true! "This population will always remain a threat to us. " Name one other country where it is not true!

Chimera | 9 years ago | Reply

We have amongst us in the US, over five million Moslems, whose only allegiance is to Islam. Their love for America, her values, customs and traditions is non-existant. This population will always remain a threat to us. But it is politically inappropriate to say so.

VIEW MORE COMMENTS
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read