Vickers: Al-Qaida’s Defeat is Within Reach

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2011 — Al-Qai­da is a dan­ger­ous threat that must be elim­i­nat­ed, and its strate­gic defeat is with­in reach, Under­sec­re­tary of Defense for Intel­li­gence Michael G. Vick­ers said Sept. 13 at the Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty here.

Vick­ers dis­cussed com­plet­ing the destruc­tion of al-Qai­da dur­ing the con­fer­ence spon­sored by NDU and the Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty Cen­ter for Advanced Gov­ern­men­tal Stud­ies.

“Al-Qai­da remains a very dan­ger­ous threat to the Amer­i­can home­land and the van­guard of the glob­al jihadist move­ment,” Vick­ers told con­fer­ence atten­dees. “The group, how­ev­er, is under more pres­sure and in a more pre­car­i­ous posi­tion than at any time since its 2001 ejec­tion from its safe haven in Afghanistan,” he added.

Vick­ers believes that al-Qaida’s senior lead­ers and rank-and-file mem­bers feel besieged by U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism oper­a­tions.

“Its senior lead­ers are being elim­i­nat­ed at a rate far faster than al-Qai­da can replace them,” the under­sec­re­tary said, “and the lead­er­ship replace­ments the group is able to field are much less expe­ri­enced and cred­i­ble.”

As a prac­ti­tion­er engaged in pol­i­cy, oper­a­tions and intel­li­gence, Vick­ers said that oper­a­tional­ly dis­man­tling al-Qai­da means break­ing the orga­ni­za­tion itself, and its rela­tion­ship with those who sup­port it.

“Al-Qai­da was able to recov­er from the loss of its Afghanistan safe haven and key lead­ers as it ini­tial­ly sought sanc­tu­ary in Pakistan’s set­tled areas,” he said, by estab­lish­ing a new safe haven in Pakistan’s Fed­er­al­ly Admin­is­tered Trib­al Areas, or FATA, after 2003.

By 2005, the group car­ried out bomb­ings in Lon­don and in 2006 near­ly pulled off a plot to det­o­nate liq­uid explo­sives aboard at least 10 air­lin­ers trav­el­ing from the Unit­ed King­dom to the Unit­ed States and Cana­da, Vick­ers said.

“In the sum­mer of 2008, the gloves real­ly came off in the war with al-Qai­da,” the under­sec­re­tary said, and three years of intense coun­tert­er­ror­ism pres­sure have tak­en a toll on the ter­ror­ist group.

“It is not too much to say that the accel­er­at­ed [coun­tert­er­ror­ism] cam­paign that is bring­ing about al-Qaida’s destruc­tion is the most pre­cise cam­paign in the his­to­ry of war­fare,” he added.

In 2011 al-Qaida’s loss­es, includ­ing that of Osama bin Laden, have been dev­as­tat­ing to the orga­ni­za­tion, Vick­ers said.

“Of the top nine lead­ers al-Qai­da had on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, only Ayman al-Zawahiri has thus far man­aged to escape death or deten­tion,” he said.

Accord­ing to Vick­ers, al-Qai­da still has a few thou­sand oper­a­tives, and it has broad­ened its reach through affil­i­ates such as al-Qai­da in the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la, East African al-Qaida/al Shabaab, al-Qai­da in Iraq, al-Qai­da in the Islam­ic Maghreb and oth­ers.

Al-Qai­da has estab­lished rela­tion­ships with groups that pro­vide it safe haven and the pos­si­bil­i­ty to con­duct joint oper­a­tions, includ­ing Tehrik‑e Tal­iban Pak­istan and the Haqqani net­work in the FATA, he said.

“Assum­ing sus­tained [coun­tert­er­ror­ism] oper­a­tions against the group, with­in 18 to 24 months core al-Qai­da cohe­sion and oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ties could be degrad­ed to the point that the group could frag­ment and exist most­ly as a pro­pa­gan­da arm,” the under­sec­re­tary added, reduc­ing the threat to the Amer­i­can home­land and mov­ing clos­er to al-Qaida’s total defeat.

The nation­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism strat­e­gy focus­es on al-Qai­da, its affil­i­ates and its adher­ents, Vick­ers said.

“It is not a war on ter­ror but rather a war with al-Qai­da. Our goal, as Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has stat­ed, is to dis­rupt, dis­man­tle and defeat al-Qai­da and pre­vent the group’s return,” the under­sec­re­tary said. “We seek noth­ing less than the utter destruc­tion of this evil that calls itself al-Qai­da.”

Shap­ing the strat­e­gy is an increas­ing­ly deep under­stand­ing of al-Qaida’s goals, strat­e­gy and tac­tics, Vick­ers said.

Al-Qai­da seeks to por­tray Amer­i­ca as an ene­my of the world’s Mus­lims, por­tray itself as a reli­gious move­ment defend­ing the rights of Mus­lims, and bleed the Unit­ed States finan­cial­ly by draw­ing the nation into long, cost­ly wars that inflame anti-Amer­i­can sen­ti­ment, the under­sec­re­tary said.

To destroy al-Qai­da, Vick­ers said, the Unit­ed States is tak­ing the fol­low­ing steps:

— Con­tin­u­al­ly reduc­ing the nation’s own vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and updat­ing its defens­es.

— Degrad­ing al-Qaida’s capa­bil­i­ties, dis­rupt­ing its oper­a­tions and degrad­ing the abil­i­ty of its senior lead­er­ship to inspire, com­mu­ni­cate with and direct the oper­a­tions of affil­i­ates and adher­ents.

— Deny­ing al-Qai­da any safe haven, aggres­sive­ly con­fronting its ide­ol­o­gy and depriv­ing the orga­ni­za­tion of illic­it financ­ing, logis­ti­cal sup­port and online com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

— Pre­vent­ing al-Qai­da from acquir­ing or devel­op­ing weapons of mass destruc­tion.

At the core of the U.S. oper­a­tional approach to coun­tert­er­ror­ism are intel­li­gence and spe­cial oper­a­tions capa­bil­i­ties that are grow­ing in strength and num­bers, Vick­ers said.

“With our inter­na­tion­al part­ners,” the under­sec­re­tary said, “we con­tin­ue to deep­en our glob­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism net­work [and] … we have increased our efforts to build the capac­i­ty of our inter­na­tion­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism part­ners so they can take the fight to al-Qai­da in their own coun­tries.”

The strategy’s top pri­or­i­ties are to pro­tect the Amer­i­can home­land and elim­i­nate al-Qai­da and its safe havens in Pak­istan, Yemen and Soma­lia, he said.

“The Pak­istan bor­der region remains, as both Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and a Pak­istani author recent­ly put it, ‘the most dan­ger­ous place in the world.’ ” Vick­ers said, liken­ing the FATA as epi­cen­ter of the “world’s worst of glob­al jihad” to the scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope of a run­down can­ti­na on the plan­et Tatooine fre­quent­ed by the worst scoundrels in the uni­verse.

“The con­tin­ued pres­ence of groups such as the [Tehrik‑e Tal­iban Pak­istan], the Haqqani net­work and the Com­man­der Nazir group, who pro­vide al-Qai­da with safe haven and make com­mon cause with it, ensures that the FATA will almost cer­tain­ly remain a prin­ci­pal area of U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism focus well after core al-Qai­da is dis­man­tled,” the under­sec­re­tary said.

In the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la the Unit­ed States faces two major coun­tert­er­ror­ism chal­lenges, Vick­ers said, a direct threat by al-Qai­da in the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la, or AQAP, and sub­stan­tial finan­cial sup­port from indi­vid­u­als and char­i­ties that flow from the region to al-Qai­da and its affil­i­ates.

“Tak­ing advan­tage of the insta­bil­i­ty in Yemen, AQAP has sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased its oper­at­ing space,” espe­cial­ly in the south­ern province of Abyan, he said.

U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism coop­er­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment of Yemen is stronger than it has ever been, the under­sec­re­tary added, “and togeth­er we have been able to deliv­er sev­er­al sig­nif­i­cant blows to AQAP since April.”

Somalia’s chaot­ic and unset­tled polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion has chal­lenged the secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment in East Africa for a gen­er­a­tion, Vick­ers said.

“Al-Qai­da ele­ments in East Africa,” he said, “con­tin­ue to be a pri­ma­ry U.S. coun­tert­er­ror­ism focus.”

In Pak­istan, Yemen and Soma­lia, the under­sec­re­tary said, “We’ve shown al-Qai­da that it will enjoy no safe haven and [we] have dec­i­mat­ed its lead­er­ship ranks.”

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

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →