Al Qaeda retains resilience
With a top terror suspect in hand, officials scramble to sift computer disks. Warning to America: You may have nabbed a key terrorist leader, but the network he helped run still exists – and has adapted to major setbacks before.
That’s a key message emerging from US officials and counterterrorism experts in the wake of Saturday’s capture of Al Qaeda’s operational mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed in Pakistan. Leaders of the intelligence and homeland-security communities seem to be tamping down expectations. That could be due, in part, to the euphoria wearing off over the first arrest of a high-ranking Al Qaeda member in months. But it also could signal that officials are standing back, taking stock of the bigger terrorist picture. “Despite the arrest of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Al Qaeda is extremely adept at protecting their organization,” FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. “As they evolve and change tactics, we too must evolve.” Evolving, for now, means racing through reams of data collected from Mohammed’s cellphone, laptop computer, and notebook, which were confiscated during his arrest. And they are keeping the pressure on him 24/7 to reveal the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and other senior Al Qaeda members, and details of any possible terrorist plots in the works. But, despite a drumbeat of new progress on the “most-wanted” front, snuffing out Al Qaeda isn’t going to be easy, and not necessarily quick, say senior intelligence officials and experts. Full Story