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Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida is bloodied and “nearing its end,” the commander of US special operations forces said, but warned the next generation of militants could keep special operations fighting for a decade to come.
5:53PM BST 28 Jul 2011
Navy SEAL Adm Eric T. Olson described the killing of bin Laden by a special operations raid on May 2 as a near-mortal blow for what he called “al-Qaida 1.0”.
Adm Olson said the group had already lost steam because of the revolts of the Arab Spring, which proved the Muslim world did not need al-Qaida to bring down governments, from Tunisia to Egypt.
“I think the death of bin Laden was an uppercut to the jaw,” Adm Olson told a packed crowd, opening the Aspen Security Forum. “It just knocked them on their heels.”
Olson echoed other administration officials who are predicting al-Qaeda’s demise if a few more key leaders can be eliminated.
But the four-star admiral warned of the fight to come against what he called al-Qaida 2.0, with new leaders like American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, who Adm Olson said understands America better than Americans understand him.
“It will morph, it will disperse,” he said of the movement. “It will become in some ways more westernised, (with) dual passport holders” and “fewer cave dwellers,” he said.