Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said Tuesday that although he believes that al-Qaida’s core has been decimated, he doesn’t believe the al-Qaida threat has been.
During the 2012 presidential campaign and after, President Barack Obama and administration officials have repeatedly declared that al-Qaida has been decimated, or is at least on the path to defeat. At times, the president and administration officials have referred specifically to “al-Qaida’s core” as having been decimated. Dempsey said he agreed with the former interpretation.
“My understanding of what the president has said is that the ‘al-Qaida core’ has been decimated,” Dempsey said at a lunch for reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
“You know, the ideology, or the movement, has clearly spread to the Arab peninsula to Horn of Africa to North Africa to West Africa. And the president has been very clear that he recognizes the al-Qaida threat among its affiliates persists. But the al-Qaida core — that is to say those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and al-Qaida senior leadership that have heretofore provided their kind of ideological hierarchy — they have been, they have been decimated.”
Dempsey said that the challenge now is to figure out the threat various al-Qaida affiliated groups pose to the U.S.
“The challenge we’ve got of course is recognizing as these affiliates spring up, you know, how many of them have local aspirations, how many of them have regional aspirations and which one of them may have global aspirations,” he said. “And then to address those primarily, principally and preferably through partners so that we don’t have to do what we’ve had to do in places like Afghanistan.”
“I mean, that’s where the president is coming from, and I agree with that as a strategy,” he added.