U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday al-Qaeda has been “broken apart” but its regional offshoots still remain a threat after the United States closed its diplomatic missions in the Middle East and North Africa.
Addressing a news conference in Washington, Obama said that the United States wanted to strengthen individual countries’ capacity to target al-Qaeda militants, AFP reported.
“This tightly organized and relatively centralized al-Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 has been broken apart. And it is very weak and does not have a lot of operational capacity,” Obama said.
But the U.S. president highlighted the threats of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of the of the terror network that is active in Yemen.
“We still have these regional organizations like AQAP that can pose a threat,” Obama said.
Regional militants can “drive, potentially, a truck bomb into an embassy wall and can kill some people,” he added.
“That requires us, then, to make sure that we have a strategy that is strengthening those partners so that they’ve got their own capacity to deal with what are potentially manageable, regional threats if these countries are a little bit stronger,” he said.
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of two men, a Chadian and a Yemeni, suspected of plotting suicide attacks.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said surveillance of messages exchanged through social media led to the arrest of the two suspects, who hail from Yemen and Chad.
Saudi Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki told Al Arabiya on Thursday the arrests were connected to the recent closure of Western embassies in the regions.
For more on this, also read:
- Saudi Arabia says terror arrests linked to Western embassy closures
- U.S. warnings and Saudi arrests: is al-Qaeda on the rise?
- UK withdraws embassy staff, U.S. flies personnel out of Yemen
- Secret message by al-Qaeda chief spurred U.S. embassy closures
- U.S. embassy closures across Mideast due to ‘pre-9/11 levels of chatter’
- Britain, France extend closure of their embassies in Yemen