Al Qaeda leadership now focused on personal survival: official

November 19th, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Nov 19 (IANS) The senior Al Qaeda leadership is currently focused on their personal survival rather than on planning attacks against the US or Europe, says a top American intelligence official.”That’s because the Pakistani military and our efforts have been very successful in placing them on the defensive,” Michael McConnell, director of National Intelligence, said at the 2008 MILCOM Conference and Symposium in San Diego, California.

“We’ve actually seen some members walk away because of our effectiveness in disrupting the global network,” McConnell said, according to the transcripts of his speech provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

He said the recent anti-terror operation by the Pakistan army in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has been very effective against the Taliban and Al Qaeda leadership.

The senior Al Qaida leadership is located in FATA on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said. For long, the US has been asserting that FATA provides a safe haven to the Al Qaeda leadership.

“So we’ve had great success; the question is, how do we sustain over time, and can we put this threat in a position where the trends are in the opposite direction — instead of attracting new members, they’re losing members? And we are approaching that tipping point now if we haven’t already reached it,” he said.

“Increasingly, Islamic leaders, voices of moderation are condemning the Al Qaida. If you examine it, most of Al Qaida’s victims have been members of the Islamic faith. So increasingly, we are optimistic that we will see this trend reverse and go in the opposite direction. However, we have to worry about Yemen and Somalia and Algeria and Lebanon, areas where we are starting to see increased activity,” he said.

McConnell said while the level of capability of the Al Qaeda in Iraq has been reduced between 65 and 80 percent, the bad news is that many of those fighters are leaving and going to places like North Africa, East Africa, Yemen and Afghanistan.

“So the problem has been contained in one area, but it’s potentially growing in another,” he said.

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