U.S., Partners Continue to Pursue al-Qaida

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2011 — The U.S. gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to pur­su­ing al-Qai­da and its mil­i­tary allies around the world and works close­ly with inter­na­tion­al part­ners in that effort, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said today.

Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta and oth­ers have said that al-Qai­da is fal­ter­ing but remains dan­ger­ous, Lit­tle told reporters, and the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion “has affil­i­ates in oth­er parts of the world, [includ­ing] Yemen, Soma­lia and North Africa.”

The Unit­ed States must keep pres­sure on al-Qai­da in Pak­istan, he added.

“We have to find ways of thwart­ing the abil­i­ty of oth­er al-Qai­da groups to plan and exe­cute attacks against the Unit­ed States and our allies,” Lit­tle said.

Many coun­tries around the world are work­ing to pur­sue the same goal as the Unit­ed States, which is to find and dis­rupt al-Qai­da and oth­er ter­ror­ist groups, the press sec­re­tary said.

“We believe that forg­ing close part­ner­ships in the ter­ror­ism are­na is an essen­tial part of the war against ter­ror­ists,” Lit­tle added.

In Afghanistan, he said, progress has been made against the Tal­iban and relat­ed groups like al-Qai­da and the Haqqani net­work.

“[The Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force] and the Afghan gov­ern­ment over the past sev­er­al months have evict­ed the Tal­iban from most of their impor­tant sanc­tu­ar­ies in Hel­mand and Kan­da­har,” Lit­tle said. The coali­tion has inflict­ed seri­ous loss­es on the Tal­iban and made it more dif­fi­cult for the group to mount large-scale offen­sives, he added.

“Our allies have increased their com­mit­ments,” he said, “and we’re work­ing with them to help sta­bi­lize parts of the coun­try.”

The Afghan peo­ple are fight­ing and dying for their coun­try, Lit­tle not­ed, estab­lish­ing local police forces, open­ing mar­kets and schools and try­ing to turn the page on decades of war.

“The Afghan secu­ri­ty forces have grown by more than 100,000 troops, and … we’re begin­ning to tran­si­tion respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty in some provinces to the Afghan peo­ple,” he said.

The coali­tion aims for a secure and increas­ing­ly self-reliant Afghanistan that’s free of al-Qai­da safe havens, Lit­tle said, “and the tran­si­tion process will help get us there.”

Recent attacks in Afghanistan, includ­ing the assas­si­na­tion in Kab­ul yes­ter­day of for­mer pres­i­dent Burhanud­din Rab­bani, chair­man of Afghanistan’s High Peace Coun­cil, “are not going to deter our resolve to pur­sue the ene­my and work close­ly with our Afghan part­ners to help Afghanistan real­ize a bet­ter future,” the press sec­re­tary said.

Panet­ta and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, “made very strong state­ments yes­ter­day on the Haqqani net­work and the threats they pose to our forces,” Lit­tle said. “Our forces, our coali­tion part­ners and the Afghans should have no doubt that we are pur­su­ing relent­less­ly the Haqqani net­work and will con­tin­ue to do so.”

The Haqqa­nis, he added, “should not feel any degree of safe­ty.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)