Al Qaeda reportedly nearly defeated in wake of bin Laden's death

Despite efforts to tamp down speculation about al Qaeda's fall in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death in early May, U.S. counterterrorism officials increasingly believe it left the organization on the brink of collapse, The Washington Post reports.

Even through his years in hiding, bin Laden remained an active manager of the group and his charisma helped popularize the brand and export it to other countries. In his absence, officials believe a few more successful attacks against the group could lead to its demise. Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's successor, is one of only a few top targets left in Pakistan and is unlikely to be as successful as his predecessor because he is a more divisive figure within the organization.

The result of this analysis is a renewed focus on the Yemen-based offshoot of the group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is believed to be a greater threat than the original group based in Pakistan, and was responsible for the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound plane in December 2009. The administration recently approved the construction of a Persian Gulf airstrip for armed CIA drones to conduct strikes in Yemen, and the CIA will be increasing its role there and working with Saudi Arabia, which has ties to Yemen's most influential tribes.

U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, the group responsible for the raid on bin Laden's compound, is leading the charge against AQAP. They carried out a strike against Anwar al-Awlaki, the group's leader, only days after bin Laden was killed, but were unable to kill him.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.