Al-Qaeda is so weak after the death of Osama bin Laden and years of U.S. drone strikes that just a few more attacks could destroy the group for good, counterterrorism officials have told the Washington Post.
Citing unnamed members of the CIA and other government bodies, the U.S. newspaper says the Pakistan-based terror group is now being eclipsed by its offshoot in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and that other groups and individuals remain threats.
Mr. bin Laden's death on May 2 removed not only a charismatic presence with the power to help continue the group, but also eliminated a man who was co-ordinating the terror network and directing it to attack the United States, the paper reported.
Attacks by unmanned CIA aircraft have also taken a toll, killing other al-Qaeda leaders and members of affiliate groups.
The report indicated the administration of President Barack Obama is trying to use the same tactic on AQAP by planning a secret airstrip in the Persian Gulf that can house drones. The facility is supposed to be ready by September.
U.S. counterterrorism officials are also hoping to use Saudi Arabia's connections to Yemeni tribes to develop sources who can help operatives track down AQAP's members, as they did Mr. bin Laden.