Tenet Briefs Senate on Terror Threats
By Jim Garamone
The al Qaeda
is "seriously damaged," but the main threat facing the
United States remains terrorist groups armed with catastrophic
weapons, said George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence.
before the Senate Intelligence Committee, today. He said even
if al Qaeda is defeated tomorrow, other groups have been infected
with al Qaeda’s brand of hatred and are targeting the United States
as part of a "global jihad."
Osama bin Laden formed al Qaeda to spread the anti-western, anti-
U.S. jihad around the world. "To bin Laden and his cohorts,
Sept. 11 was the shining moment, their "shot heard `round
the world," and they want to capitalize on it," he said.
"And so even as al Qaeda reels from our blows, other extremist
groups within the movement it influenced have become the next
wave of the terrorist threat. Dozens of such groups exist."
are under the rubric of Sunni extremism and many have benefited
from al Qaeda links. "They include groups as diverse as the
al-Zarqawi network and the Ansar al-Islam in Iraq, the Libyan
Islamic Fighting Group, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,"
includes small local groups that work with international terrorist
groups in their own countries, Tenet said. These include the Salifiya
Jihadia, a Moroccan network that carried out the May 2003 Casablanca
bombings, and similar groups throughout Africa and Asia.
far-flung groups increasingly set the agenda, and are redefining
the threat we face," he said. "They are not all creatures
of bin Laden, and so their fate is not tied to his. They have
autonomous leadership, they pick their own targets, they plan
their own attacks."
that military and intelligence operations by the United States
and its allies overseas have made progress against al Qaeda leaders.
"Local al Qaeda cells are forced to make their own decisions
because of disarray in the central leadership," he said.
the past 18 months, we have killed or captured key al Qaeda leaders
in every significant operational area – logistics, planning,
finance, training – and have eroded the key pillars of the
organization, such as the leadership in Pakistani urban areas
and operational cells in the al Qaeda heartland of Saudi Arabia
He said killing
or capturing these al Qaeda leaders "unquestionably"
stopped plots that would have killed Americans. Tenet said bin
Laden has gone deep underground. "We are hunting him in some
of the most unfriendly regions on earth," he said. "And
we follow every lead."
States works with friends and allies around the world to take
down al Qaeda cells, and Tenet said he is pleased with the progress
made to date. But al Qaeda is still dangerous.
not suggesting al Qaeda is defeated," he said. "It is
not. We are still at war. This is a learning organization that
remains committed to attacking the United States, its friends
He said the
pressure the anti-terrorist coalition has put on al Qaeda has
changed the organization "into a loose collection of regional
networks that operate more autonomously." These cells have
launched attacks in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan,
Kuwait and Afghanistan in the past year.
should not take the fact that these attacks occurred abroad to
mean the threat to the U.S. homeland has waned," Tenet said.
"As al Qaeda and associated groups undertook these attacks
overseas, detainees consistently talk about the importance the
group still attaches to striking the main enemy: the United States."