WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says America's fight against al-Qaida terrorists is taking a new direction — moving beyond declared war zones like Afghanistan and requiring more U.S. partnering with foreign commandos.
In a speech to a Washington think tank Tuesday, Panetta said al-Qaida has been badly damaged by a decade of U.S.-led counterterrorism operations around the world. But he stressed that the group remains a threat.
To achieve what he calls "the beginning of the end" of al-Qaida, Panetta says the U.S. will need to finish the war in Afghanistan in a way that prevents al-Qaida from re-establishing major havens in that country. And, he says, the U.S. will have to keep pressure on al-Qaida in Pakistan, while continuing to go after al-Qaida affiliates in Yemen and Somalia.