David Ignatius: Bin Laden Dead, but al-Qaida Remains a Threat

Wednesday, 24 Aug 2011 05:56 PM

By Andra Varin

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Osama bin Laden is dead, but his terror network is still a threat.

“When top U.S. officials summarize their view of al-Qaida now, in the run-up to the 9/11 anniversary, they describe an organization that is down but certainly not out,” David Ignatius writes in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

Documents and other evidence seized from bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan have hammered home three basic points, Ignatius writes:

  • First, bin Laden wanted to launch another devastating attack on the West. “Bin Laden was still looking for a history-changing attack on big, economically important targets — one that would match, if not outdo, the impact of 9/11,” Ignatius writes.
  • The documents also reveal that bin Laden was still very much a “hands-on chief executive,” and his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was in fact pretty isolated.
  • Finally, U.S. drone attacks were badly hampering al-Qaida’s operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Bin Laden “called this the ‘intelligence war,’ and said it was ‘the only weapon that’s hurting us.’”
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, U.S. intelligence agents do not see any specific plots targeting the United States.

“But they’re looking, pulsing every channel they know. They recognize that it’s what we still don’t know about al-Qaida that’s most dangerous,” Ignatius said.

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