Colorado, July 29: Top former U.S. counter terrorism officials have warned that a chemical or biological attack by Al Qaeda and its offshoots remains a threat, despite the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad raid on May 2.
“We still have pockets of Al Qaeda around the world who see this as a key way to fight us, especially the offshoot in Yemen. The potential threat from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is very real”, Fox News quoted National Counterterrorism Center former director Mike Leiter, as addressing the Aspen Security Forum.
He said the new breed of terrorists understands that killing few Americans can cause as much fear as the massive plots backed by Bin Laden.
“The most likely … are simple forms of chemical or biological weapons rather than a nuclear attack, using the poison ricin as an example of something that’s easily made”, Leiter said.
“Bin Laden was really prioritizing the big attack. Some of them may have fantasies about pulling off another 9/11, but his affiliates realize they can affect U.S. strategy and society with smaller scale attacks”, Leiter added.
Leiter and former Central Intelligence Agency Deputy Director John McLaughlin predicted that Al Qaeda’s new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri would launch similar smaller scale campaign.
Both admitted that Zawahiri’s core Al Qaeda was weaker after Bin Laden’s death.
“I think it is now possible … to actually visualize, to imagine its collapse,” McLaughlin said. But he warned against underestimating Zawahiri or his followers.
Leiter said the trove of information, including inter-Al Qaeda communications, seized from Bin Laden’s compound showed the group already was struggling.
He said the documents revealed Bin Laden was not the CEO of a large multinational corporation, as analysts thought, but the “slightly out of touch coordinator of a broad dysfunctional family who were operating on their own agendas more than his.”(ANI)