Al-Qaeda affiliates will still pose threats: US experts

May 2nd, 2011 - 4:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 2(ANI): US counterterrorism officials and experts have described Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s death as a devastating blow to the terrorist network he helped found and build.

However, they also said that bin Laden in recent years had served much more as a symbol than as an operational figure, and that the implications of his death for Al-Qaeda are not entirely clear.

“Decapitating the movement will not undermine it; the Al-Qaeda affiliates and the singletons will still pose threats,” The Washington Post quoted John McLaughlin, a CIA veteran who served as interim director of the agency, as saying.

“But much of the inspirational power of the Al-Qaeda center will diminish,” he added.

Another retired CIA veteran, Paul Pillar, who served as the agency’s national intelligence officer for the Middle East and South Asia from 2000 to 2004, said that Al-Qaeda has been widely decentralized, spreading to Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and other organizations, and that bin Laden’s death would have little impact on the planning of attacks.

“In terms of operational control and direction, most of the change that matters has already taken place,” Pillar said.

“Bin Laden’s role for some time has been more as a symbol and a source of ideology than an instigator of operations. That role will continue, dead as well as alive,” he added.

Bin Laden, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed in a top secret operation involving a small team of US special forces in Abbottabad city, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar, Pakistan.

The Saudi-born terrorist, accused of being behind a number of atrocities, including the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, was at the top of the US “most wanted” list.

He had approved the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington in which nearly 3,000 people were killed, saying later that the results had exceeded his expectations. (ANI)

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