WASHINGTON – Al Qaeda is feeling the pinch from intelligence units working to flush out terrorist leaders including Usama bin Laden (search), Gen. John Abizaid, the head of U.S. Central Command, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Abizaid said U.S. commanders and intelligence officials still believe that bin Laden and senior leaders of Al Qaeda (search) are hiding in the Afghan/Pakistan border region and Pakistan is continuing to pressure the terrorist group. Though he didn't name any new breakthroughs in the hunt, Abizaid said the maturing efforts in the region are helping to "narrow the ring until we get the senior leadership" of Al Qaeda.
"We have been successful in really working specific aspects of the network in such a way that it is much less effective this year than last year. In the Pakistan, Afghanistan area, in particular, there's indications they are having difficulty gaining money and there's indication of concern from various intelligence sources about the safety of being able to continue to operate in those areas," he told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Abizaid warned that it's not yet time to celebrate and referred to evidence revealed Monday that shows bin Laden still is trying to attack the United States. U.S. officials said they had intercepted communications between bin Laden and Iraq-based terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) in which bin Laden encouraged Zarqawi and his group to focus on attacks inside the United States.
Though none of the information obtained over the past several weeks indicated anything specific in the message, the Department of Homeland Security issued a classified bulletin to officials over the weekend about the intelligence.
DHS spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the United States has no immediate plans to raise its national alert level but the intelligence "reiterates the desire by Al Qaeda and its associates to target the homeland."
Abizaid said Zarqawi and his network, "Al Qaeda in Iraq," are still active there but the network is starting to break from within.
"We have been very successful against [Zarqawi's] network and we have been successful against his network because of Iraqi intelligence sources, because of treason within his own organization, because people are getting tired of what he's doing, which is killing innocent Iraqi people for no reason whatsoever. And his days in Iraq are numbered," he said.
Iraqi officials said they expect to take Zarqawi soon; they recently nabbed a key associate and driver of the Jordanian-born terror leader. He has a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head and is known by several other names.
Abizaid also was confident that sometime this year Iraqi forces would take the lead in fighting insurgents in the majority of the country, but he added that it is uncertain they will be able to do the same in the toughest areas.
FOX News' Bret Baier and Nick Simeone and The Associated Press contributed to this report.