4 January, 2012
Reports from senior British military officials indicate that al Qaeda’s top leaders are moving out of Pakistan and into North Africa potentially in an attempt to avoid casualties from the U.S. drone campaign or as a broader shift in strategy
Reports from senior British military officials indicate that al Qaeda’s top leaders are moving out of Pakistan and into North Africa potentially in an attempt to avoid casualties from the U.S. drone campaign or as a broader shift in strategy.
One senior British official, speaking anonymously to the Guardian, said so many senior leaders have been killed by air strikes that “only a handful of key players” remain alive.
The official added that a “last push” in 2012 could likely destroy al Qaeda’s remaining senior leaders hiding out in Pakistan’s tribal regions.
Some officials fear that the remaining al Qaeda leaders could be making their way to North Africa as at least two fairly high level members have made their way to Libya, while others have been caught in transit.
“A group of very experienced figures from north Africa left camps in Afghanistan’s [north-eastern] Kunar province where they have been based for several years and travelled back across the Middle East,” said one official. “Some got stopped but a few got through.”
Speaking last month at a U.S. military base in Djibouti, Leon Panetta, the secretary of defense, said the military would shift its emphasis to dismantling al Qaeda in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula once it completes its mission in Pakistan.
Panetta said the American military would “track these guys wherever they go and make sure they have no place to hide.”
British and U.S. intelligence officials estimate that there are less than 100 “al Qaeda or al Qaeda-affiliated” militants left in Afghanistan and of that number only “a handful” are considered to pose a threat to western nations...
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Saturday, January 7, 2012
Al Qaeda leaders fleeing to North Africa?
So says the headline on a Homeland Security News Wire story: