Al Qaida's leadership appears on the verge of collapse,
the CIA said.
The report was disclosed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in
testimony on Sept. 9, to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Wolfowitz read
portions of the report meant to review the state of Al Qaida and its
potential for renewed attacks.
"Al Qaida's central leadership is reeling from the impact of the
counterterrorist successes of the U.S. and our allies," the report said.
Recent crackdowns by the Saudis on Al Qaida cells in its country have also been devastating, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The central leadership of Al Qaida is at growing risk of breaking apart as
our blows against the group create a level of disarray and confusion
throughout the organization that we have not seen since the collapse of the
Taliban in late 2001."
The report said Al Qaida's financial network has been hurt since October
2001. The CIA said 10 leading financiers of Al Qaida have been captured or
killed over the last two years. Moreover, two-thirds of Al Qaida's
leadership —composed of up to 25 people — has been killed or captured.
The result, the CIA said, is that Al Qaida has lost much of its ability
to launch large-scale attacks. Two such Al Qaida financiers identified were
Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, both captured over the last 18
"While the group has a large bench of middle managers and foot
soldiers," the report said, "it is rapidly losing its cadre of senior
planners who have access to and the trust of Bin Laden, the leadership and
organizational skills needed to mount sophisticated attacks, and the savvy
to operate in an increasingly hostile counterterrorism environment."
But the report warned that Al Qaida remains lethal and maintains a large
core of supporters. They said this continues to present the threat of
imminent attack on U.S. interests throughout the world.
"Even if the Al Qaida organization is defeated and its worldwide cells
are left to fend for themselves, Bin Laden's call for attacks on the United
States will continue to resonate among Muslim extremists," the report said.
"It takes only a handful of terrorists with little more than creativity,
dedication, and luck to successfully cause mass casualties."
The CIA also reported increased cooperation in the war against Al Qaida.
The report cited Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, saying Riyad's
campaign since the May 12 suicide strikes in the Saudi capital has been
effective in damaging Al Qaida.
"The [Saudi] campaign has resulted in the death and capture of numerous
Al Qaida cell leaders and operatives and has severely hurt the group's
and propaganda efforts," the report said.
At the same time, the State Department has issued a worldwide alert to
Americans concerning an Al Qaida attack. The department warned of attacks in
Europe and Central Asia.
"We are seeing increasing indications that Al Qaida is preparing to
strike U.S. interests abroad," the State Department said.
"We therefore assess that European or Eurasian locations could be venues for
the next round of attacks."