America's top military commander in Afghanistan believes that al-Qaeda cannot be defeated until Osama bin Laden, the most wanted fugitive of the world, is either killed or captured.
"I don't think it would make, it would not defeat al-Qaeda to have him captured or killed, but I don't think that we can finally defeat al-Qaeda until he is captured or killed," General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told Senators at the Congressional hearing on Afghanistan.
Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General McChrystal said Osama bin Laden is an iconic figure at this point whose survival emboldens al-Qaeda as a franchising organisation across the world.
"It does remain important to American people, indeed the people of the world, that one day, Osama Bin Laden is either captured or killed and brought to justice for his responsibility for the murder of many Americans and citizens of the world on the 11th of September, 2001," Karl Eikenberry, the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, said.
Responding to a question from Senator George Lemieux, McChrystal said: "Were Osama bin Laden to come in there (in Afghanistan), that would become a huge priority for all of our forces. If he is not inside, it's outside of my mandate right now."
Noting that the American people still want to capture and kill Laden, Senator Lemieux said it would remain an important strategic military goal as well in terms of war fighting and trying to break the will of the enemy.