US to push campaign to ‘destroy’ al-Qaida

THE US will aim to destroy al-Qaida’s central organisation now that its leader Osama bin Laden has been killed and its capabilities degraded by US operations, a top White House adviser said last night.

Since the 2001 attacks, al-Qaida has spawned affiliated groups in the Middle East and North Africa and inspired attacks by so-called home-grown militants in Europe and the US.

But White House counter terrorism chief John Brennan said bin Laden’s death was the latest in a series of US operations that have delivered “severe body blows” to al-Qaida’s central network in Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past year.

“We’re going to try to take advantage of this opportunity we have now with the death of al-Qaida’s leader, bin Laden, to ensure that we’re able to destroy that organisation,” Brennan told NBC’s Today show.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry said US drone strikes in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas had killed as many as 17 senior al-Qaida leaders before bin Laden’s death.

CIA director Leon Panetta warned on Monday that bin Laden’s death would “almost certainly” prompt his Islamist supporters to attempt some sort of retaliation.

But Brennan said US officials were aware of no specific threat, 48 hours after bin Laden’s death.

“But what we’re doing is, we’re taking all those prudent measures that we need to whenever there’s an incident of significance like this,” Brennan said.


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