'Catching, killing Laden will make little difference to instigation, direction of terror acts'

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Sydney, Apr.3 (ANI): President Barack Obama might have decided to send more than 100,000 troops to Afghanistan to assist the international forces already stationed in the region engaged in the 'war on terror', and to hunt down the world's most wanted man, Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, but it seems that capturing or killing Laden has become less important for Washington in its war against terrorism.

An article in The Sydney Morning Herald pointed that while the hunt for Laden and his associates still remains the focus of US counterintelligence efforts in Pakistan and other countries, American officials are aware that more than the Laden-centric Al-Qaeda threat, it is the increasing 'internal' threat level which is worrisome.

"One of the phenomena that our counterterrorism people face now is that they have to worry about the big threat of a mass casualty attack along the lines of a repeat of 9/11, or the 2006 multiple airline bombing plot, and also the extreme other end, which is the lone fanatic converted by the internet," former Central Investigation Agency (CIA) official and a key advisor of President Obama, Bruce Riedel said.

Riedel said that it is the threat posed by individuals like Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13, last November, which was more concerning.

"Someone who, at most, is peripherally linked to any kind of foreign terrorist organisation, like Major Hasan at Fort Hood, can still be quite deadly," he said.

Experts also believe that even if Laden is nabbed or eliminated it is unlikely to deter the extremists from fighting for their nefarious goals, as the Al-Qaeda leadership has passed on the responsibilities to regional subsidiaries.

Lydia Khalil, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the original Qaeda leadership has passed a ' baton to regional subsidiaries, often co-opting the nationalist struggles of disaffected local groups.'

"Next, there are groups of entrepreneurial jihadists: radicals from outside conflict zones who nurse simmering grievances and conceive small-bore plots, rather than attempting spectacular attacks. These groups exist mostly in Europe but also in the US, Canada and Australia," said Khalil.

Some analysts also opine that individuals inspired by the terror ideology pose similar or even bigger threats to the world apart from Al-Qaeda and other banned extremist organisations.

"They are people who are inspired at least in part by the sort of ideological framework that bin Laden represents and has propounded. They are motivated at least as much by anger over specific policies and events and conflicts, but they are not sent or directed to conduct operations by al-Qaeda central," the newspaper quoted a veteran American intelligence official, Paul Pillar, as saying.

Pillar opined that even if Laden is captured or killed it would have little affect on terrorist operations across the globe, as his ideological influence would continue to be present after he is eliminated.

"I wouldn't go so far as to say that eliminating bin Laden would make no difference. I think it would make very little difference with regard to the instigation and direction of terrorist operations. On balance, it would be better to have him out of commission than in commission, although even that effect would be lessened by the fact that his ideological influence would persist even when he was dead," he said. (ANI)

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