The Al-Qaida core in Pakistan is the most formidable terrorist organization targeting the United States and the West. It has proven to be an adaptable and resilient terrorist group whose desire to attack the United States and U.S. interests abroad remains strong. However, it has been weakened due to heavy losses among its leadership, and is experiencing more difficulties in sustaining its operations. That is the conclusion of the State Department's recently issued Country Reports on Terrorism 2009.
Al-Qa'ida’s core dwells in Pakistan, but increasingly, it finds itself under great pressure due to the Pakistani military's drive to eliminate militant strongholds. More al-Qa'ida operatives have been killed or captured in Pakistan than anywhere else.
Ultimately, it is al-Qa'ida's brutal methods of operation that have come to haunt the organization, said Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, U.S. Coordinator of the Office of Counterterrorism:
"The group... continued to suffer from widespread Muslim disaffection due to recent and past indiscriminate targeting of Muslims by its operatives and allies in Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and elsewhere. The number of conservative clerics and former militants speaking out against the organization has increased considerably."
According to the National Counterterrorism Center, almost 58 thousand individuals were either killed or injured by terrorist attacks in 2009. Based upon a combination of reporting and demographic analysis of the countries involved, well over half of the victims were Muslims, and most were victims of Sunni extremist attacks.
As a result, states the report, al-Qa'ida finds it more difficult to raise money, train recruits, and plan attacks outside of home region.
But despite these setbacks to the core leadership, al-Qa'ida continues to recruit new blood, and has done so successfully in the U.S. and other western countries. Also, the broader al-Qaida threat has become more dispersed and more geographically diversified. Some of its most active affiliates operate in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
"We must recognize that one of the central challenges to our security is that weak states serve as breeding grounds for terrorism and instability," said Daniel Benjamin.
"We are committed to addressing these state shortcomings that allow terrorists to operate freely by promoting effective civilian law enforcement, good governance, and the rule of law, as well as the delivery public services to the general population. Capacity-building also includes counterterrorist finance training. It represents a whole-of-government approach to this problem."