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October 6, 2014

Is ‘Core al-Qaida’ Decimated?

Fox News’ Bret Baier posed a question to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson: “As you know, the administration has been engaged for several weeks in this rather public debate about the status of ‘core al-Qaida.’ And on September 23rd, Ben Rhodes told reporters that the Khorasan Group in Syria included core al-Qaida operatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan and made their way to Syria. Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said the Khorasan Group is merely affiliated with core al-Qaida. And on Wednesday you listed core al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan as one of several jihadist groups that threatens the U.S. That same day, the White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that core al-Qaida has been decimated and destroyed. Has core al-Qaida been decimated and destroyed or does it continue to present a threat?”

Johnson responded by weaseling out of answering: “Well, core al-Qaida, as we know it, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is still present. They are not gone. Very definitely, through actions of the Bush and Obama administrations over the last decade or so, we’ve done a lot to capture or kill members of core al-Qaida – bin Laden, KSM and others. The group is not what it was in 2001 and what I’m focused on is the fact that there are now all these al-Qaida affiliates and adherents out there in the world that remain active and we still have threats and potential threats to the homeland from terrorist organizations.”

Baier pressed harder: “So when Josh Earnest says it’s been decimated and destroyed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that’s not true?”

Again, Johnson weaseled: “We’ve very definitely come a long way to capturing and killing a lot of their leadership. It’s a very, very different organization from what it was just a few years ago as a result.”

So it’s decimated but remains an active and potential threat. Got it.

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