State of Al Qaeda – Zarate

Published: September 11, 2012

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Editor’s Note:

The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is always the occasion for news organizations to focus on the events of that day and the insights of the people involved. Today the U.S. C-Span cable public affairs network aired an interview with Mr. Juan Zarate, Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism 2005-2009 and Senior Advisor, Transnational Threats Project, CSIS, to provide a discussion of the “state of Al Qaeda. Among his remarks in response to the question of “Eleven years later, what is the state of Al Qaeda”:

“Part of the answer depends on how you define Al Qaeda. The Al Qaeda core that we found in 2001 is a shell of its former self. It is decimated. We have spent the last decade really destroying its core leadership, destroying its support network. So the core leadership is diminished. That’s why when you hear Secretary Panetta talk about it and you hear the Administration talk about the strategic defeat of Al Qaeda, that’s really what they’re talking about — the old Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri organization that we once knew back in 2001 is really on its last legs. The problem is the Al Qaeda movement of 2012 is very different from the movement of 2001. It has metastasized. You have the rise of the Al Qaeda affiliate groups in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa that have really gained some momentum and are starting to look in some ways like insurgencies. In Yemen they control towns and villages. In the Mahgreb they control parts of northern Mali. And so, you have a different aspect of this movement that looks very different from 2001 but still represents a threat, which is why Administration officials have been cautious about declaring ultimate victory because the black banners of Al Qaeda still rise over parts of the world.”

We provide the C-Span interview with Mr. Zarate here today for your consideration.