Top Al Qaeda leaders still burrowing in Pakistan: US




By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: Al Qaeda's top leaders, including its new chief of Ayman al-Zawahri, continue to "burrow" in Pakistan's tribal areas, President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser said vowing to bring them to justice like Osama bin Laden.

Egyptian cleric al-Zawahri, who took over the organization, after bin Laden's killing last year by US Navy SEALs, "as well as other al Qaeda leaders continue to burrow into areas of the FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan," deputy national security adviser John Brennan told CNN Sunday.

"That's why we're working very closely with our Pakistani partners. So we're not going to relent until we've brought them to justice one way or the other," he said.

The US, Brennan said, was continuing to work with its regional partners, Pakistanis, Afghans, and others to get al-Zawahri, who has "absolutely" become the number one US target after the killing of bin Laden.

"We demonstrated the ability to do that with bin Laden. And we are in constant consultation with our Pakistani counterterrorism partners on a regular basis about how we can do this as soon as possible," he said.

"Absolutely. They have to go," the official said. "It's an organization that's dedicated to murder and mayhem and we as well as other countries of the world are determined to make sure that that happens."

Asked if the US had strategically defeated Al Qaeda, Brennan said: "We're on a path to Al Qaeda's destruction. And the president is committed that we're not going to rest until Al Qaeda is destroyed as an organization in the Afghan/Pak area as well as in other regions of the world."

"It's a murderous organization that has killed many Americans as well as many other nationalities over the course of the past decade and more," he said. "And so we're determining to make sure that that organization is destroyed."

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)