Thursday, June 23, 2011

Obama: 'We Have Taken Out More Than Half of Al Qaeda Leadership'

by Chana Ya'ar

U.S. President Barack Obama boasted in a speech to the nation Wednesday night that American forces have managed to eliminate about half of the leadership of the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization. Click here for analysis of the speech.

“Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since '9/11',” he said. “Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of Al Qaeda's leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and special forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that Al Qaeda has ever known."

“This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. One soldier summed it up well. 'The message,' he said, 'is we don't forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.'”

Al Qaeda, Obama said, had been unable to replace senior terrorists who were taken out. The group “remains dangerous,” he warned, and “we must be vigilant against attacks.” However, America had clearly put Al Qaeda “on a path to defeat.”

The speech was ostensibly broadcast to announce to Americans that Obama was about to keep another campaign promise – that of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

“Nearly 10 years ago," Obama began, "America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor. This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and signaled a new threat to our security...”  He bluntly reminded viewers that it was on his watch that America's Number One enemy had been eliminated.

That having been done, he went on to tell voters he would fulfill a promise he had made in 2009 when the U.S. and other forces added troops in a surge against the Taliban – to begin to draw down forces in Afghanistan by July 2011. By the end of summer 2012 – and coincidentally just before the next presidential election – Obama said a total of 33,000 troops will have been pulled out. By 2014, he said, “the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.”

For some, he didn't go far enough. “American polls want us out of Afghanistan now! Obama's speech tonight was a joke. Why isn't he listening to the people?,” wrote one person in a Twitter feed from Phoenix, Arizona. Others celebrated the announcement.