WASHINGTON: Despite the decimation of its top leadership, the al-Qaida still poses a threat and the US will continue to pursue it, defence secretary Leon Panetta said today.
"We've decimated some of the very key leadership in al-Qaida. There is no question in my mind that we have impacted on their command and control and capability to be able to plan similar 9/11 attacks on this country," Panetta said at a joint news conference at Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville, in Pennsylvania.
"But having said that, al-Qaida's terrorism still remains a threat, and it's for that reason that we are continuing to pursue them, in Yemen, and in Somalia, and in North Africa, and elsewhere," Panetta said.
"We will continue to do that until we clearly have made this country safe from that kind of threat," he said.
Observing that the US has made tremendous progress in war against terrorism, Panetta said people who have conducted these operations against al-Qaida deserve tremendous credit.
"But we need to continue the fight to make sure that it never happens again," the defence secretary said.
"We have brought bin Laden to justice. We've decimated the leadership of al-Qaida. We have seriously undermined their ability to plan and conduct an attack similar to 9/11," Panetta said.
"While al-Qaida still remains a threat, we have dealt a serious blow to their network," he added.
"Our troops are still fighting to deny safe haven to al-Qaida and to their extremist allies in Afghanistan. And we are continuing to fight them in Yemen, in Somalia and in North Africa," Panetta said.
"Make no mistake, we will pursue and we will fight them wherever they go. There is no place that will be safe for them to hide from justice," he added.
Responding to a question, Panetta said efforts by military and intelligence officials to go after those who were responsible for terrorist attacks against the US and those who continue to plan similar attacks on this country have been very successful.