Panetta: We're now within reach of defeating Al Qaeda

Arriving in Afghanistan for the first time since taking office earlier this month, Panetta said that intelligence uncovered in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May showed that 10 years of U.S. operations against Al Qaeda had left it with fewer than two dozen key operatives, most of whom are in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa…

Panetta said during his confirmation hearings last month that Al Qaeda had been severely damaged, but he has not claimed before that it was nearing defeat. The CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command have kept lists of senior terrorist leaders for years, adding new names as individuals on the list were killed or captured. It was unclear whether Panetta was indicating that the U.S. now believes it is nearing the end of the known terror leaders.

“Now is the moment following the death of Bin Laden to put maximum pressure on them because I do believe that if we continue this effort we can really cripple Al Qaeda as a threat to this country,” he said.