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Strikes on al Qaeda leave usually "handful" of tip targets

Fri Jun 22, 2012 12:33am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly one year ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta likely a vital better of al Qaeda was within strech if a United States could kill or constraint adult to 20 leaders of a core organisation and a affiliates.

In an talk on Thursday with Reuters, Panetta disclosed that usually a “small handful” of a people on that strange list remained on a terrain and that Saudi Arabia – a hearth of late al Qaeda personality Osama bin Laden – was stating a drop-off in recruitment.

“We’ve not usually impacted on their leadership, we’ve impacted on their capability to yield any kind of authority and control in terms of operations,” Panetta said.

The U.S. invulnerability arch visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and after profitable U.S. condolences over a genocide of a late climax prince, spoke about al Qaeda with one of his sons, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who has run a kingdom’s operations opposite al Qaeda as a emissary interior minister.

“I asked him a doubt – as a outcome of a bin Laden raid, as a outcome of what we’ve finished to their leadership, where are we with al Qaeda,” Panetta recounted, adding that al Qaeda and bin Laden “came out of Saudi Arabia.”

“Bin Nayef said, ‘For a initial time, what I’m observant is that immature people are no longer captivated to al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.'”

Panetta did not singular out that leaders from his aim list final year remained, though stream al Qaeda arch Ayman al-Zawahri is one he named final year and who is still believed to be vital in a limit segment of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Asked how many targets remained, Panetta said, “It’s a tiny handful and it’s flourishing smaller all a time.”

On other topics, Panetta in a interview:

* Defended a U.S. preference not to arm opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, though pronounced he was endangered that shoulder-fired missiles stolen from Libya final year could make their approach to Syria. He pronounced he had seen no approach comprehension nonetheless suggesting they had.

* All though ruled out an reparation over an atmosphere strike final year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, as Islamabad has demanded, observant it was “time to pierce on” in a uneasy U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

* Said Iraq had given assurances to a United States that it would not recover a suspected Hezbollah user indicted of murdering American troops, whom a United States incited over to Iraqi control final Dec only before a final U.S. infantry exited a country.


After addressing questions about a destiny of al Qaeda’s tip leadership, Panetta shifted his concentration to a group’s ability to tarry as a transformation during all.

“We’ll keep a vigour on during a tip and we’ll keep going after their leadership,” Panetta said.

“But a genuine emanate that will establish a finish of al Qaeda is when they find it formidable to partisan any new people.”

The murdering of bin Laden in a growth U.S. raid in Pakistan final year has been followed by a array of unmanned aerial attacks that have dejected al Qaeda’s network along Pakistan’s limit with Afghanistan.

The latest high-profile al Qaeda personality killed in a U.S. debate was Abu Yahya al-Libi, a group’s second-in-command, who pennyless out of a high-security U.S. jail in adjacent Afghanistan in 2005 and was a pivotal strategist.

Beyond a Afghan-Pakistan region, another pivotal figure killed final year was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American imam who became a comparison personality of al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate.

While successful tactically, a worker strikes have serve tainted U.S.-Pakistan family and, critics say, lift questions about general law and could boost belligerent recruiting.

Only about 8 hard-core al Qaeda leaders are still believed to be formed in a riotous borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan, compared with dozens a few years ago.

(Editing by Warren Strobel and Peter Cooney)

Source: Article Source

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