'Weakened' al-Qaeda still poses potential threat to US

Last Updated: Fri, May 03, 2013 12:20 hrs

Two years after the killing of former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the terror network has become so decentralized that its affiliates in Yemen and elsewhere now pose a greater direct threat to the US.

Bin Laden's death was undoubtedly a severe blow to al Qaeda, but counterterrorism analysts continue to see the group as a potential threat to the U.S., though its role has evolved, reports ABC News.

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) told Congress in April that the threat from Al Qaeda and the potential for a massive coordinated attack on the US may be diminished, but the jihadist movement is more diffuse, with domestic extremists and jihad-inspired affiliated groups still determined to attack Western interests.

Surprisingly, for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the terror threat posed by al Qaeda and other terror groups did not top this year's version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment prepared by the DNI.

Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at Georgetown University, says bin Laden's death in May 2011 was regarded "as a decisive corner having been turned in the war on terror" and agrees that it hastened the terror network's decline.

However, he is concerned by what he calls the "rise in al Qaedism" whose message of Islamic militancy targeting the US has resonated in places like northern Africa where last September's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was believed to have been carried out by al Qaeda supporters.

Brian Jenkins, with the Rand Corporation, agrees that bin Laden's death had "an immediate impact" on the group's morale and believes it became even more decentralized and dependent on its allies and affiliates since his death which could erode the group's ideological focus of a violent struggle against the United States.

Jenkins is concerned that an "opportunistic" al Qaeda could be resurgent in Syria and Afghanistan.

Another possible indicator of al Qaeda's diminishing role is the decrease in the number of the CIA's drone strokes in Pakistan this year, the report said. (ANI)

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