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Beyond Yemen, Awlaki: Look for core Al Qaeda members outside the hot spots

The killing of the American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen is another success in fighting Al Qaeda. But core leaders of the group who are likely planning the next big attack are probably operating outside the hot spots of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa.

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The United States scored another serious blow to Al Qaeda with the killing of the extremist American-born Islamic cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen last week. But the US and its allies should also pay attention to longtime Al Qaeda figures who are probably operating outside of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa.

True, the terrorist group is greatly diminished – especially since the spectacular raid that killed Osama bin Laden and yielded rich intelligence. Al Qaeda’s future as a global terrorist movement is in doubt.

I am concerned, however, by the significance that America and its allies ascribe to next-generation leaders recently captured or killed in Pakistan. The intelligence community knows its stuff, and has enjoyed ringing successes, but one big mystery is this: Where does senior Al Qaeda core member Saif al-Adl come into the picture? He was named as Mr. Bin Laden’s temporary replacement. Now, he apparently isn’t listed on the organizational chart of Al Qaeda's hierarchy.

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