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Expert: al Qaeda Ranks Cut but Leadership Intact

The ranks of the al Qaeda network have shrunk by two thirds since the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, but the core leadership remains intact and it has no trouble recruiting, a terrorism expert said. Rohan Gunaratna told the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur the militant Islamist group had been badly hurt by the capture in March of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. “It is clear that al Qaeda no longer has the possibility of staging operations of the scale of September 11, 2001,” Gunaratna, author of “Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror,” was quoted as saying. “Its ranks have been cut by two thirds since the U.S. intervention of October 2001 (in Afghanistan). They are now of the order of 1,000 men,” he said, according to an advance copy of the interview due to be published Thursday. Full Story

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