Al-Qaeda 'still a real threat' to US
Washington - Despite the killings of Osama bin Laden and radical US-Yemeni
cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda terror network remains a "real threat
to the United States", Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in a TV
interview late on Wednesday.
CBS News released excerpts of an interview with Panetta scheduled to run on Sunday,
in which the Pentagon chief discusses US strategy to disband al-Qaeda's global
"We're going after al-Qaeda, wherever they're at," Panetta told
CBS in the interview excerpt.
"And clearly, we're confronting al-Qaeda in Pakistan. We're confronting
the nodes of al-Qaeda in Yemen, in Somalia, in North Africa. ... and obviously
whatever al-Qaeda links are involved in Afghanistan," he said.
Have US forces defeated al-Qaeda?
"Not yet," Panetta said. "They're still a real threat.
There's still al-Qaeda out there. And we've got to continue to put pressure on
them wherever they're at."
Panetta however said that US forces have "undermined their leadership
Of the network's 10 main leaders listed after the September 11 2001 attacks
in the United States, only one is still alive: Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over
after bin Laden was shot dead in a dramatic US commando raid in Pakistan in
In the past year, eight of al-Qaeda's top 20 leaders were eliminated, most
by missiles fired from US drones operating under an expanded covert warfare
effort launched by President Barack Obama after taking office in January 2009.
Those killed include Awlaki, slain in Yemen in a US drone strike on
Former CIA chief Panetta took over as defence secretary in July, replacing
Robert Gates, a holdover from the presidency of George W Bush.