White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan. (Michael Bonfigli/Christian Science Monitor)White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Thursday the United States faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa, even amid the considerable American successes in going after the terrorist organization's leaders in Pakistan, including Osama bin Laden.
"Anytime there is a power vacuum, as in Somalia, and Yemen, Al Qaeda is attracted to it," Brennan told journalists at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor Thursday.
Brennan, who previously served as a senior CIA official--including as station chief in Saudi Arabia--and as the first head of the federal government's post-9/11 terrorism threat analysis center, said he has seen no evidence in the four months since a Navy Seal team killed Bin Laden that there was any Pakistani government complicity in sheltering bin Laden. (You can see some of his comments in the YouTube video clip below.)
Brennan warned that Moammar Gadhafi's considerable weapons arsenals, along with still-weak governing institutions in Libya after his ouster, could create a tempting and dangerous "arms bazaar" for jihadists.
"Libya was a counterterrorism partner of ours," Brennan said. The al Qaeda affiliate in north Africa, known as Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb or AQIM, "which had operated there, has longstanding ties to core al Qaeda. ... AQIM is looking at Libya as a place to acquire additional weapons."
"The battle for Libya ... has gone well from a military standpoint, but now issues of governance and standing up of institutions is what lies ahead," he continued. "Individuals of various types are looking to places like Libya to fight, and they see it as a potential arms bazaar they could take advantage of."Read More »from White House counterterrorism adviser: Al Qaeda holding ground in Yemen