Al-Qaeda has "blown it" through its excessive brutality, and is now is under "fantastic pressure" because of the loss of key leaders, US envoy Richard Holbrooke said Sunday.
Holbrooke said the organization that masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States now was less an organization that plans attacks than one that seeks to inspire Muslims to jihad.
He said the US administration takes the view that "they have, in a sense, blown it."
In an interview with CNN, Holbrooke said Al-Qaeda's top external operations chief and 10 to 12 other key leaders have been in eliminated in the past year "by activities," an apparent allusion to US drone attacks in Pakistan's border tribal areas.
The external operations chief Holbrooke referred to appeared to be Saleh al-Somali, who was reported killed December 8 in a US drone attack.
"They are under fantastic pressure," Holbrooke said.
Holbrooke acknowledged that there were still "terrible incidents" like the suicide attack by a Jordanian double agent in late December that killed eight people at a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan.
But he said Al-Qaeda's excessive brutality had diminished their ideological appeal.
At the same time, he said, relations between the United States and Pakistan have significantly improved over the past year.
"We feel clearly that we're working more closely together with them. And I think that's a very big step forward," he said.
He said the Pakistanis have moved over 100,000 troops from their eastern border with India to the western border areas that the Taliban has long used as a safe haven.
"They have two divisions in Swat right now. They have several other divisions in the south. Of course, it would be extremely valuable to go in North Waziristan. Everyone understands that," he said.
But he said it was for the Pakistani army to assess the situation and decide where to put its resources.
© AFP 2013