Former Counterterrorism Head Doesn't Think Al Qaeda is Dead

Former chief at the National Counterterrorism Center is the latest to deny the death.

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The former head of the National Counterterrorism Center is the latest person to say Al Qaeda might not be close to death, The New York Times reports. The Washington Post published a report Wednesday that "U.S. officials believe al-Qaeda on brink of collapse." The report attributed the effectiveness of drone attacks in Pakistan, the demise of Al Qaeda affiliate networks, and the killing of Osama Bin Laden as major contributing factors. Some people disagreed with the report, though. Some argued the Pakistan-based group isn't the most dangerous Al Qaeda chapter, and that Al Qaeda in Yemen has become just as dangerous, if not more. Michael Leiter, the former head of the NCTC, said Wednesday in an interview with The Times that Pakistan "remains a huge problem," but is "on the ropes." He also agreed that the Yemen-based Al Queda operation is a serious threat.

He warned that intensive CIA operations over the last ten years could leave the organization in a rut as America's wars wind down. As operations finish, younger workers will be tasked with returning to the U.S. and perform desk jobs. "Suddenly you find yourself at a desk in Washington working in a pretty big bureaucracy and you say: "This what I’m stuck with for another 30 years? You’ve got to be kidding me,' " Mr. Leiter told reports.

He also said that terrorism may go the way of the Norway attacks: small-scale operations with big impacts. "The American people do need to understand that at least the smaller-scale terrorist attacks are with us for the foreseeable future," he said.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.