Al Qaeda regional units still pose threat: Obama
WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said on Friday that Al Qaeda's regional units still posed a threat but the network was weaker overall, saying his country wanted to strengthen individual countries' capacity to target these militants.
“This tightly organised and relatively centralised Al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 has been broken apart. And it is very weak and does not have a lot of operational capacity,” Obama said told a press conference at the White House.
However, the president pointed to dangers of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a unit of the extremist group that effectively controls parts of Yemen.
“We still have these regional organisations like AQAP that can pose a threat,” Obama said, adding regional militants could “drive, potentially, a truck bomb into an embassy wall and could kill some people.
” That requires us, then, to make sure that we have a strategy that is strengthening those partners so that they've got their own capacity to deal with what are potentially manageable, regional threats if these countries are a little bit stronger,” he said.
The United States last week closed more than 20 embassies or consulates in the Islamic world in response to what officials described as a specific threat by Al Qaeda.
US authorities have since reopened several embassies but closed others, including in sub-Saharan Africa, and pulled staff from the Pakistani city of Lahore.
The founder of Al Qaeda, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, was killed in May 2011 in a secret US raid on his home in Pakistan
“We are not going to completely eliminate terrorism. What we can do is to weaken it and to strengthen our partnerships in such a way that it does not pose the kind of horrible threat that we saw on 9/11,” he said.
“And you know, I'm not going to discuss specific operations that have taken place. In my speech in May, I was very specific about how we make these determinations about potential lethal strikes,” Obama said.
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