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A year after the United States killed Osama bin Laden, there is a distinctly mixed picture of al-Qaida. In one way, it has weakened at its core and is likely unable to carry out a huge, Sept. 11-style attack on U.S. soil. But it continues to add more terror groups to its network, demonstrating how al-Qaida plans on surviving the death of its founder. Even if it is unable to enact revenge on the United States for Bin Laden’s death, there’s a possibility it could rely on one of its affiliates for such an attack, points out the Associated Press.
An expert tells the Washington Post that the terrorist organization that attacked the United States in 2001, “is essentially gone” but the idea that al-Qaida would be strategically defeated after the killing of Bin Laden now seems unlikely. So far, al-Qaida has managed to get through leadership problems that officials had once said might bring about its demise. Its new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may not be as charismatic as Bin Laden but he continues to add affiliates to the terror network under his control.
Considering that U.S. forces have killed around half of al-Qaida’s top 20 leaders over the last year, these offshoots are key to understanding the present-day terror network because they’re the ones now hitting Western targets overseas, points out the Associated Press. But the ability to deal more powerful blows against al-Qaida’s core is hobbled by continuing tensions with Pakistan’s government. Now there is also growing concern about so-called lone wolves, who can carry out attacks with little help from an organization, points out Reuters.
Meanwhile, chief White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan strongly rejected accusations that Obama is trying to exploit the anniversary of Bin Laden’s killing for political gain. "I don't do politics. I don't do the campaign. I am not a Democrat or Republican," Brennan said. He also insisted Sunday he has received “no credible reporting” that there’s a retaliatory plot in the works to mark the anniversary of Bin Laden’s death, reports the National Journal.