Al-Qaida and its extremist allies are under tremendous pressure in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the global terror network has been weakened elsewhere by popular Muslim disaffection due to its targeting of the community people, a top US official has said.
"In the key countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the group is under serious pressure," Robert F Godec, Principal Deputy Co-coordinator for Terrorism in the State Department said. There us "growing resolve" in both Afghanistan and Pakistan to "defeat" al-Qaida, he added.
"While al-Qaida has had some successes over the years, it has also suffered a number of important setbacks recently.
Al-Qaida has been weakened by popular Muslim disaffection from its indiscriminate targeting of Muslims in Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and elsewhere.
The number of imams, clerics and former militants speaking out against the organisation is increasing. This is a positive and important story," he said.
There is "growing resolve" in both Afghanistan and Pakistan to "defeat" al-Qaida, he said, adding that "Pakistani authorities have captured the largest number of al-Qaida and affiliated violent extremist operatives in the world, a demonstration of their commitment to this fight."
Pakistani military operations have been aimed at eliminating some of the militant strongholds in the Federally Administered Territories, he said.
"Al-Qaida has lost many of its leaders and is finding it more difficult to raise money, train recruits, and plan attacks outside of the region," said the State Department official.
But while al-Qaida is now struggling in some areas, the threat it poses is becoming more widely distributed, more geographically diversified, Godec noted.
"The rise of affiliated groups, such as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (in Yemen) and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, is a new and important development and is also a troubling development.
Americans saw this dramatically with the failed attempt by al-Qaida on December 25 to blow up a US commercial airliner over Detroit," he said.
This incident demonstrated that AQAP, at least, has not just the will but also the capability to target the United States at home, he added.