July 28th, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Special ops chief worried about al Qaeda 2.0

By CNN's Suzanne Kelly

Eric T. Olson, the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, opened a three-day security forum sponsored by the Aspen Institute on Wednesday by sharing his concerns about the next generation of al Qaeda post bin Laden.

The man, known as the "Bullfrog" because he is the longest serving Navy SEAL still on active duty, is rarely comfortable granting public media appearances. But he admitted during the session that he had agreed to the talk well before the raid on bin Laden's compound in May.

Olson told a gathered crowd that the success of the raid wouldn't have been possible without four key components: collaboration among intelligence communities, the joint military cooperation that spanned across different services, having a special operations community that was well equipped with the tools they needed to do the job, people who knew about the operation ahead of time keeping quiet.

Olson said that there have been between 3,000 and 4,000 operations this year alone that included special operators and helicopters flying against a target.

When asked by moderator and ABC Correspondent Martha Raddatz about the state of al Qaeda today, he said he believes the world is seeing the last of al Qaeda 1.0 as an organized base headed by a charismatic leader who is able to coordinate large scale attacks and said that he is more concerned about what al Qaeda 2.0 will be, with more potential terrorists being dual passport holders.

What Olson isn't too concerned about as he sets his sights on retirement, is the state of the special operations community, which he says has grown by about 3 percent per year since 9/11 with some 13,000 special operators deployed every day.

Filed under: Al Qaeda
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