Al-Qaeda's senior leadership based in Pakistan is "weaker" than anytime since the 9/11 attacks and is under "more sustained pressure," US President Barack Obama's review of the Af-Pak situation said today.
The review claims significant progress in disrupting and dismantling the Pakistan-based leadership and cadre of al-Qaeda over the past year.
"Al-Qaeda's senior leadership has been depleted, the group's safe haven is smaller and less secure, and its ability to prepare and conduct terrorist operations has been degraded in important ways," says a five-page overview of the report, which is set to be unveiled by Obama.
The annual Af-Pak policy review also says that as a result of consistent anti-terror measures in the region, the senior leadership of al-Qaeda based in Pakistan "is weaker than any time after 9/11".
It said that the US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan is centred on "disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al-Qaeda in the theatre and preventing its capacity to threaten America, its citizens and allies."
"While it will take time to eventually defeat al-Qaeda, we are taking steps to prevent terrorist groups from regenerating over time or reestablishing a safe haven in the region that would pose a strategic threat to the US homeland and to our allies and interests abroad," the report said.
It said the US remains "relentlessly focused" on Pakistan-based al-Qaeda because of the strategic nature of the threat posed by its leadership, and in particular the group's continued pursuit of large-scale, catastrophic anti-Western attacks and its influence on global terrorism.
"We believe core al-Qaeda continues to view the United States homeland as its principal target, and events over the past year indicate some of its affiliates and allies also are more aggressively pursuing such attacks," it said.
However, the report said: "Most important, al-Qaeda's senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2001."
Al-Qaeda's eventual strategic defeat will be most effectively achieved through the denial of sanctuaries in the region and the elimination of the group's remaining leadership cadre, it said.
Achieving these goals alone will not completely eliminate the terrorist threat to US interests, the report said, adding there are a range of other groups, including some affiliated with al-Qaeda, as well as individuals inspired by al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda in Pak Weaker Than Anytime Since 9/11: US
Lalit K Jha/Washington
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