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'Al-Qaeda spreading its influence in other parts of world'

Washington, Feb 8, 2013 (PTI): 15:09 IST
John Brennan, US President Barack Obama's nominee to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on February 7, 2013. The hard-nosed architect of the US drone war against Al-Qaeda, John Brennan, will on Thursday face difficult questions about secret assassinations from senators weighing his nomination to lead the CIA. AFP PHOTO
Even as core of its leadership has been significantly decimated, al-Qaeda is spreading its influence in other parts of the world, a top White House official has said.

"Al-Qaeda has been metastasising in different parts of the world. We have the al-Qaeda core that, in the past exerted quite a bit of orchestration of effort over a number of these franchises that have developed," John Brennan told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his confirmation hearing for CIA Director.

Brennan noted that with the US putting a curb on activities of the al-Qaeda, like-minded elements like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have emerged as a result of local environment favouring them.

"So they're all sort of unique into themselves. They have different features and characteristics," the chief counter terrorism adviser to US President Barack Obama said.

Brennan said the US needs to make sure that it is able to work with the governments and the intelligence and security services in the area, so that it can put as much pressure on them as possible.

"A number of them have local agendas. Some of them have local agendas as well as international agendas. al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen has a very determined insurgency effort under way inside of Yemen to try to bring that government down, and the government has done a great job, you know, fighting back," he explained.

"There are other elements al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. They are narcotics smugglers (and) human traffickers. They get involved quite a bit in kidnapping and ransoms and also involved in terrorist attacks."

So what we need to do is to take into account what the environment is, who we can work with, how we're going to put pressure on them," he said, stating that any element associated with al-Qaeda will definitely have "death and destruction" in its agenda.

"So we need to be mindful of this metastasization of al-Qaeda cancer," Brennan said.

Responding to another question, he warned that any American joining al-Qaeda would be treated as an enemy.

"Any member of al-Qaeda, whether they be a US or non-US citizen, needs to know that they have the right to surrender anytime, anywhere throughout the world. And they can do so before that organisation is destroyed," he said, pointing out that the US was committed to destroy al-Qaeda.

The US, he said, has maintained that al-Qaeda is trying to kill Americans that it is going to do everything possible to protect the lives of American citizens from the murderous attacks from al-Qaida.

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