WASHINGTON – Ten people identified as top financiers for Al Qaeda (search) have been captured or killed in the last two years, according to the CIA.
The figure includes people with ties to aid groups and another non-governmental organizations that U.S. authorities believe provide money to Usama bin Laden's (search) organization, according to an unclassified CIA summary provided to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (search) before his testimony to Congress on Tuesday.
The CIA paper echoes themes previously presented by the Bush administration on the war with Al Qaeda: Usama bin Laden's network is down, but not out.
Wolfowitz read part of the summary that describes Al Qaeda's central leadership as "reeling from the impact of the counterterrorist successes and our allies."
Two-thirds of Al Qaeda's identified leadership have been killed or captured, and the network has lost a lot of its institutional ability to launch large-scale, coordinated strikes, the report says.
"While the group has a large bench of middle managers and foot soldiers, it is rapidly losing its cadre of senior planners who have access to and the trust of bin Laden, the leadership and organizational skills needed to mount sophisticated attacks, and the savvy to operate in an increasingly hostile counterterrorism environment," the report says.
Though it generally presents an optimistic view of the war with Al Qaeda, the paper sounds a warning: "Even if the Al Qaeda organization is defeated and its worldwide cells are left to fend for themselves, bin Laden's call for attacks on the United States will continue to resonate among Muslim extremists. It takes only a handful of terrorists with little more than creativity, dedication, and luck to successfully cause mass casualties."
The paper names Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected Sept. 11 mastermind, and Abu Zubaydah as key money handlers in bin Laden's organization who have been captured. Both also managed terrorist operations.
Counterterrorism officials have identified an Egyptian named Shaikh Saiid al-Masri as Al Qaeda's chief financial official. He has not been reported captured.
Of the leaders still at large, bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are thought to be somewhere in the mountainous region along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many who fled to Pakistan have been captured; the status of some who went to Iran remains unclear, although it is thought they may be under some kind of house arrest there.