WASHINGTON – U.S. intelligence agencies believe Osama bin Laden
is isolated from al Qaeda and spending much of his power is limited to survive, the head of the CIA said on Thursday. CIA Director Michael Hayden said in the hunt for bin Laden remains a priority of his agency.
“He is putting a lot of energy in their own survival – a lot of energy in their own security,” Hayden said in a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington.”In fact, it seems to be largely insulated from the daily operations of the organization who nominally heads,” he said.
In recent weeks, there have been several rocket attacks U.S. by drones across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
The United States maintains that the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces operate with relative impunity in the tribal areas along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and the use of such areas as staging grounds for attacks on U.S. forces and its allies in Afghanistan.
Hayden said al Qaeda has been hurt by a sustained struggle with the United States and its allies, but remains a threat.”Al Qaeda has suffered serious setbacks, but remains a determined, adaptable enemy unlike any our nation has faced,” said Hayden. “The war is far from over.”
Regardless of whether bin Laden is helping lead a terrorist organization, the CIA believes capturing or killing him would be a severe blow to Al Qaeda, according to Hayden.
“This is an organization that has never been through a change at the top,” he said. “For 20 years, bin Laden has been the visionary, inspiration or harmonizing force behind Al Qaeda.”
Hayden said that what remains to be seen whether bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, could maintain unity in the ranks without him.”The truth is that we simply do not know what would happen if bin Laden is killed or captured. But I’m willing to bet that whatever happens, is to work in our favor,” said Hayden.