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Al Qaeda Losing Power, US Counterterrorism Chief Says

White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan answers reporters' questions in the Brady Press Briefing room at the White House May 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. "We got him," Brennan said when describing the feeling in the White House Situation Room after the United States was successful in killing the terrorist Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

The White House has found the right formula to fight al Qaeda, Homeland Security and counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said.

The former CIA officer told the Associated Press that aggressive US actions, as well as joint intelligence efforts with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen, have kept the militants from replacing slain leaders and planning new terror plots. Brennan called the death of Atiyah Abd al-Rahman a “huge blow” to the terror group, one that damaged its network. Al-Rahman, the latest second-in-command of al Qaeda, was reportedly killed by a CIA drone strike last week.

“If they’re worrying about their security … they’re going to have less time to plot and plan,” Brennan said of the militants. “They’re going to be constantly looking over their shoulder or up in the air or wherever, and it really has disrupted their operational cadence and ability to carry out attacks.”

When asked about some of the major crises in the region, such as Pakistan’s objections to US drone strikes and anti-government revolts across the Mideast, Brennan brushed aside such concerns. He said the relationship with Pakistan is improving and described the Arab Spring as a “speed bump” that only temporarily disrupted counterterrorism relationships.

Brennan was once President Barack Obama’s top pick for CIA director, but he had to withdraw his name in 2008 after some of his earlier statements in support of the Bush administration’s advanced interrogation techniques came to light. Obama later appointed Brennan to his current position, which does not require Senate confirmation.

[Associated Press]

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