Washington/Islamabad, April 30 (IANS) Al Qaeda’s top leaders, including its new chief Ayman al-Zawahri, continue to “burrow” in Pakistan’s tribal areas, said a top US official as a Pakistani journalist warned that a dead Osama bin Laden is as dangerous as a living one.
Egyptian cleric al-Zawahri, who took over the organization, after Osama’s killing last year by US Navy SEALs, “as well as other Al Qaeda leaders continue to burrow into areas of the FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan”, deputy national security adviser John Brennan told CNN Sunday.
Just days before the first anniversary of Osama’s killing in Abbottabad May 2, an article by Hamid Mir in Geo News Monday, warned that the man was dead “but Al-Qaeda is still determined to make some new history”.
Osama was gunned down by US commandos who mounted a daring operation at the elusive Al Qaeda chief’s high-walled compound in Abbottabad town. The commandos flew in on board stealth helicopters, without tipping off Pakistan’s military, and flew out with Osama’s body and a huge cache of documents.
John Brennan said: “we’re working very closely with our Pakistani partners. So we’re not going to relent until we’ve brought them to justice one way or the other.”
The US, Brennan said, was continuing to work with its regional partners, Pakistanis, Afghans, and others to get al-Zawahri, who has “absolutely” become the number one US target after the killing of bin Laden.
“We demonstrated the ability to do that with bin Laden. And we are in constant consultation with our Pakistani counterterrorism partners on a regular basis about how we can do this as soon as possible,” he said.
“Absolutely. They have to go,” the official said. “It’s an organization that’s dedicated to murder and mayhem and we as well as other countries of the world are determined to make sure that that happens.”
Asked if the US had strategically defeated Al Qaeda, Brennan said: “We’re on a path to Al Qaeda’s destruction. And the president is committed that we’re not going to rest until Al Qaeda is destroyed as an organization in the Afghan/Pak area as well as in other regions of the world.”
“It’s a murderous organization that has killed many Americans as well as many other nationalities over the course of the past decade and more,” he said. “And so we’re determining to make sure that that organization is destroyed.”
Hamid Mir too sounded a warning note on the Al Qaeda when he wrote: “US officials have rightly claimed many times that Al Qaeda has become weaker after the death of Osama bin Laden but they cannot deny the fact that bin Ladenism is still a source of inspiration for the militants fighting from Afghanistan to Yemen and from Iraq to Palestine. Dead Osama is as dangerous as living Osama.”
He said that Osama got the death of his own choice. “It was his old dream not to be captured by enemy but to be killed by enemy and no burial in any grave.”
The article by the popular talk show host went on to say that “Pakistan never gave CIA full access to interrogate Osama bin Laden’s family. The big family was handed over to the Saudi authorities a few days back. Pakistanis were careful because they feared a serious backlash from Al Qaeda”.
“They knew many Al Qaeda leaders were hiding quietly in big cities like Karachi and they can become a big danger anytime. Why Pakistanis are not ready to underestimate Al Qaeda? They know that Al Qaeda operators started moving from Karachi to Afghanistan after the attack on Mehran base in Karachi last year.”
Terrorists had destroyed two P3C Orion aircraft during a 15-hour siege that began on the night of May 22 last year at the PNS Mehran base and led to the death of 14 people, including four terrorists.
“The US prevented more than 50 terror attacks on its soil since 9/11 but Afghanistan and Pakistan are not America. These two countries are the biggest victims of US war against terrorism since 9/11 and are still unsafe even after the death of Osama bin Laden,” said Mir said.