There is no evidence that al-Qaeda terrorists are plotting attacks to coincide with the May 1 anniversary of the U.S.-led raid that killed Osama bin Laden, White House counter terrorism adviser John Brennan said.
“At this time we don’t see any active plot that is under way but we are maintaining our guard,” Brennan said today on ABC’s “This Week” program. “We are vigilant throughout the course of the year but on a day that marks the one-year anniversary of bin Laden being brought to justice, we are especially vigilant.”
A decade after almost 3,000 people were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks bin Laden orchestrated against New York and Washington, Brennan said al-Qaeda’s ability to conduct terrorist strikes has weakened.
“Their capability has been degraded significantly,” he said during the interview. “We have taken off the battlefield the founding leader as well as other leading operatives. We have degraded their infrastructure, their capability to train, their capacity to deploy operatives.”
Still, he said the U.S. is “particularly concerned” about al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which operates in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. That group is blamed for supporting Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was sentenced to life in prison in February for attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas Day 2009 as it approached Detroit.
In March, the organization claimed that it killed an American teacher, Joel Shrum, who it said was attempting to “spread Christianity” in Taiz, Yemen.
“They have demonstrated the intent as well as the capability to try to carry out an attack,” Brennan said on ABC. He made similar comments on “Fox News Sunday.”
Bin Laden Death
Brennan spoke about the first anniversary of bin Laden’s death as President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign released a television ad that suggested Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, wouldn’t have authorized the raid that killed the terrorist leader. Romney’s campaign has criticized the ad and Brennan wouldn’t answer questions about whether Democrat Obama is politicizing the issue.
“I don’t do politics,” he said. “I’m a counter-terrorism adviser to the president. All that I know is that the president made the decision when he was given the opportunity to take a gutsy decision to carry out that raid with our special forces.”
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, Brennan said Obama remains “determined” to close the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During his 2008 campaign, Obama pledged to end the detention facility. Brennan said that has been difficult, in part, because of critics in Congress.
“Congress has not made this easy,” Brennan said. The detention camp must be closed “in a way that does not put the safety of the American people in jeopardy but also in a manner that we can bring justice to those people.”