The US is within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda following the killing of Osama bin Laden and is set to go after some other key leaders of the terror network in Pakistan and Yemen to put "maximum pressure" on it, new defence secretary Leon Panetta has said.
"I was convinced in my prior capacity [as CIA chief] and I'm convinced in this capacity that we're within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda," Panetta told reporters en route to Kabul, his first overseas trip as the defence secretary.
"My goals are to defeat al Qaeda, that obviously we made an important start with that with getting rid of bin Laden," he said. "Having gotten Laden, we've now identified some of the key leadership within al Qaeda both in Pakistan as well as in Yemen and other areas," he said.
"If we can be successful at going after them, I think we can really undermine their ability to do any kind of planning."