Al Qaeda weakened, but likely to live on: UN official

Al Qaeda weakened, but likely to live on: UN official

Richard Barrett, coordinator of the UN Al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team said: "The leadership is no longer there, and it's turning into a different movement."

"The threat won't go away, but I don't think it's anything like the threat that it was in the past, and the likelihood of a major attack like 9/11 is very low," Barrett told Xinhua.

The organisation's core group, many leaders of which have been in hiding in Pakistan's tribal regions, has been thrown into disarray, he said. Barrett said that in the past, Al Qaeda in Yemen has planned many attacks against the US. In 2009, Umar Abdul Mutallab tried to detonate a bomb on a plane bound for Detroit in an attack linked to Yemen. US and Yemeni officials said Mutallab was trained in Yemen and met a radical cleric there before the attack.

"So they have the intentions and the capabilities," Barrett said. But it remains unknown whether further attacks may stem from Yemen, he said. While Al Qaida was unlikely to mount the same type of attacks that it was capable of a decade ago, Islamist militants have turned to "homegrown terrorism" - radicalisation of Americans through the internet - as a way to deal with its handicap, he said.

While such attacks involve small arms and homemade bombs, they can still be deadly. He cited the example of the 2009 shootings in Fort Hood, Texas, where US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, suspected of being influenced by radical Islamist ideology, killed 13 people and wounded 29 others.