Al Qaeda leaders leaving Pakistan, moving to Africa: ReportDecember 26th, 2011 - 1:23 pm ICT by IANS
London, Dec 26 (IANS) The Al Qaeda leadership, which has been weakened in Pakistan following the killing of many of its senior members — including Osama bin Laden — in drone strikes, is now suspected to be shifting to north Africa, a media report said Monday.
British officials believe that a “last push” in 2012 may destroy Al Qaeda’s remaining senior leadership in Pakistan, The Guardian reported.
Many senior Al Qaeda members have been killed in air strikes by unmanned drones and “only a handful of the key players” remain alive, said an official.
Al Qaeda’s top leader Osama bin Laden was gunned down in Pakistan’s Abbottabad town May 2 by US commandos who launched a daring operation using stealth helicopters.
Sources said at least two relatively senior Al Qaeda leaders have made their way to Libya, with others intercepted en route. This has caused fears that north Africa could become a new “theatre of jihad”.
“A group of very experienced figures from north Africa left camps in Afghanistan’s (northeastern) Kunar province where they have been based for several years and travelled back across the Middle East,” a source said, adding: “Some got stopped but a few got through.”
The media report said it was not clear whether the move from Afghanistan-Pakistan to north Africa was prompted by a desire for greater security that may be unlikely as coalition forces begin to withdraw from Afghanistan or part of a strategic attempt to exploit the aftermath of the Arab spring.
A smaller flow of volunteers reaching makeshift bases in Pakistan’s tribal areas has complicated matters for Al Qaeda.
“I think they are really very much weakened,” an official was quoted as saying.
“You can’t say they don’t pose a threat — they do — but it’s a much lesser one.”
Intelligence sources told The Guardian they estimate that there are less than 100 “Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated” militants in Afghanistan.
On the Haqqani network, an official said there was evidence it had been acting as intermediaries between the Pakistani secret services and militant groups.
“To move against the Haqqanis is a no-win option for the Pakistani military. If they suffer heavy casualties and fail to eliminate the group, they lose their authority and a key interlocutor. If they succeed, they lose a key asset,” the official said.
- Top Al Qaeda strategist killed in Pakistan? - Jun 05, 2012
- Al Qaeda No 2 dead: US - Jun 06, 2012
- 10 killed in U.S. drone attacks in northern Pakistan - May 17, 2011
- Badruddin Haqqani killed in drone attack: Report - Aug 25, 2012
- Year after Osama, world still unsafe - May 01, 2012
- Al-Qaeda's Af-Pak chief killed in US drone attack in North Waziristan - Sep 29, 2010
- Drone attack kills top militant in Pakistan - Jul 06, 2011
- US acts on its own: Pakistani daily - Aug 27, 2012
- Yemeni terror offshoot now bigger threat to US than Osama's al-Qaeda group: CSIS - Feb 09, 2011
- Pakistani Taliban leader possibly killed in U.S. drone strike - Jan 16, 2012
- Osama's bodyguard freed by Pakistan: Report - Sep 30, 2011
- Haqqanis support could help Pakistan's interests: Musharraf - Sep 29, 2011
- Pak warned Osama before US raids: Wikileaks - May 03, 2011
- Al Qaeda determined to make 'new history': report - Apr 30, 2012
- Senior Al Qaeda operative held in Pakistan - May 18, 2011
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,