In a speech today in Washington, CIA Director Michael Hayden warned that over seven years after the beginning of America’s war on terror al-Qaeda remains the single gravest threat to the United States. While touting the deaths of al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan’s tribal region, Hayden conceded the organization has successfully rebuilt itself in the region and that “virtually every major terrorist threat that my agency is aware of has threads back to the tribal areas.”
Not only that, the organization and affiliated groups have influence from Africa to the South Pacific, and are emerging as a growing force in places like Algeria and Yemen, and the CIA director says the later could be used as a launching pad into Saudi Arabia. He also believes that Iraq is no longer the central front of the US “war” with al-Qaeda.
At the same time, Hayden trumpeted claims that the intelligence community had disrupted an attack “that would have rivaled the destruction of 9/11” and that Osama bin Laden is “deeply isolated” from the organization’s day-to-day operations and devoting much of his energy to avoiding being killed by the US. Such a death, Hayden predicted, would undermine the confidence of al-Qaeda members, as well as other extremists around the world.