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US terror war to focus on al Qaeda

The Obama administration’s new counter-terrorism strategy unveiled Wednesday says al Qaeda, its affiliates and adherents remain the main threat though the outfit stands severely impacted by the death of Osama bin Laden. Yashwant Raj reports.

world Updated: Jul 01, 2011 00:29 IST
Yashwant Raj

The Obama administration’s new counter-terrorism strategy unveiled Wednesday says al Qaeda, its affiliates and adherents remain the main threat though the outfit stands severely impacted by the death of Osama bin Laden.

Also, the strategy paper, as explained by John Brennan, advisor to the president on counter-terrorism, said in a lecture also on Wednesday, emphasizes the need to keep Pakistan engaged no matter how frustrating it gets.

“The principal focus of this counterterrorism strategy is the network that poses the most direct and significant threat to the United States and that is al Qaeda, its affiliates and its adherents,” said Brennan.

The thrust of the new strategy is “targeted, surgical pressure”. “Going forward, we will be mindful that if our nation is threatened, our best offense won’t always be deploying large armies abroad but delivering targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us,” said Brennan.

An unclassified version of the strategy paper released said: “From its base of operations in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), al Qaeda continues to pose a persistent and evolving threat to the US Homeland and interests as well as to Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Europe, and other targets of opportunity.”

But India’s main threat Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, or Jamaat ud-dawa as it is also called, found no mention among the al Qaeda affiliates though there is enough evidence — including David Headley’s testimony — to show the two outfits work closely.

This US’s counter-terrorism strategy clearly and the objective is al Qaeda.

“This is a war — a broad, sustained, integrated and relentless campaign that harnesses every element of American power,” said Brenna, adding, “And we seek nothing less than the utter destruction of this evil that calls itself al Qaeda.”

An integral part of the strategy is cooperation with Afghanistan and Pakistan — home to al Qaeda and also its main areas of operation — to build up their capacity to fight the outfit and deny it sanctuary.

“As frustrating as this relationship can sometimes be, Pakistan has been critical to many of our most significant successes against al Qaeda,” Brennan said, careful not to sound too critical of Pakistan.

The US plan

1. Protecting the homeland by constantly reducing vulnerabilities and adapting and updating defenses
2. Take the fight to wherever the cancer of al Qaeda manifests itself, degrading its capabilities and disrupting its operations
3. Degrade the ability of al Qaeda’s senior leadership to inspire, communicate with, and direct the operations of its adherents around the world – from South Asia to Europe to East Africa and South East Asia
4. Deny al Qaeda any safe haven—the physical sanctuary that it needs to train, plot and launch attacks against us
5. Confront al Qaeda’s ideology, which attempts to exploit local—and often legitimate—grievances in an attempt to justify violence
6. Deprive al Qaeda of its enabling means, including the illicit financing, logistical support, and online communications that sustain its network
7. And prevent al Qaeda from acquiring or developing weapons of mass destruction.

US targets Qaeda leaders

Washington: A U.S. drone fired on two senior commanders of Somalia’s Shebab Islamist insurgency after they were found to have ties to al Qaeda, the Washington Post has reported, citing US officials. The strike last week is believed to have wounded the two leading militants and came amid increasing concern among US officials about growing ties between Shebab and the global terror network. AFP