By Larry Shaughnessy
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spelled out the future battle against al Qaeda, praising what has been done so far but warning much more work remains.
Speaking about the September 11 attacks in a speech at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, Panetta said, "We will do everything possible to ensure that such an attack never happens again. That means counterterrorism will continue as a key mission for our military and intelligence professionals as long as violent extremists pose a direct threat to the United States."
He said efforts against the core al Qaeda group have been largely successful. "Al Qaeda's leadership ranks have been decimated. This includes the loss of four of al Qaeda's five top leaders in the last 2½ years alone - Osama bin Laden, Shaikh Saeed al-Masri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Abu Yahya al-Libi."
By Paul Cruickshank
Abu Yahya al-Libi is universally admired in jihadist circles and among the younger generation of al Qaeda leaders. Charismatic, intelligent, a religious scholar - and with the extra qualification of having escaped from U.S. custody in Afghanistan - his loss is "a cataclysmic blow" to al Qaeda, according to analysts who follow the group.
Al-Libi was the target of a U.S. drone strike this week, a U.S. official tells CNN's Barbara Starr. A U.S. official told CNN's Pam Benson that al-Libi is dead.
In recent years, al-Libi emerged as one of the terrorist network's most important clerics and propagandists, appearing in countless videos. By most accounts, he was effectively al Qaeda's deputy leader. And his Libyan nationality is important to an organization that after the elevation of Ayman al-Zawahiri as leader was vulnerable to criticism it was dominated by Egyptians. FULL POST