Al Qaeda: Who's left?
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri
June 6th, 2012
09:36 AM ET

Al Qaeda: Who's left?

Editor's note: Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, is the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden, From 9/11 to Abbottabad."

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

The news that Abu Yahya al-Libi, the No.2 leader of al Qaeda, is now confirmed to have been killedin a CIA drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region along the border with Afghanistan further underlines that the terrorist group that launched the 9/11 attacks is now more or less out of business.

Under President Barack Obama, CIA drone strikes have killed 15 of the most important players in al Qaeda, according to a count maintained by the New America Foundation (a nonpartisan think tank where I am a director).

Similarly, President George W. Bush also authorized drone strikes that killed 16 important al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan while he was in office.

As a result, according to senior U.S. counterterrorism officials, there now remains only one leader of any consequence in al Qaeda and that is Ayman al-Zawahiri, the tetchy Egyptian surgeon who became the head of the group following the death of its founder, Osama bin Laden, in a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan in May 2011.

Read more from Peter Bergen on Zawahiri's almost impossible task

A visit to Osama bin Laden's lair
A local man walks through a field near Osama Bin Laden's compound, where he was killed during a raid by U.S. special forces a year ago.
May 3rd, 2012
12:30 PM ET

A visit to Osama bin Laden's lair

Editor's note: Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst, is the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden, From 9/11 to Abbottabad," from which this article is adapted.

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

We climbed the stairs to the third floor, where Osama bin Laden died early in the morning of May 2, 2011. I stepped into the bedroom where he was killed and looked up at the ceiling, where you could still see the patterns of blood that had spurted from bin Laden's head when the bullet fired by a U.S. Navy SEAL tore through the terrorist leader's face.

The height of the room was low for someone as tall as bin Laden, who was 6 foot 4.

Outside the bedroom was a small terrace surrounded by a high wall. Overlooking the enclosed terrace were large and now broken plate glass windows that would have provided a lot of light for bin Laden during the day.

In the bedroom in which al-Qaeda's leader finally was killed, I had expected a frisson of something; perhaps a sensation like exploring Hitler's bunker complex beneath the streets of Berlin at the end of World War II.

Read on here.

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Topics: Terrorism
CIA drone war in Pakistan in sharp decline
March 27th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

CIA drone war in Pakistan in sharp decline

Editor's note: Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst, is a director at the New America Foundation. His book "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden; From 9/11 to Abbottabad" will be published on May 1. Jennifer Rowland is a program associate at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank which seeks innovative solutions across the ideological spectrum.

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst, and Jennifer Rowland, Special to CNN

The past year has seen the number of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan plummet. In the first three months of 2012, there were 11, compared with 21 in the first three months of 2011 and a record 28 in the first quarter of 2010.

On Monday, Pakistan's parliament started to debate whether the United States should be made to stop CIA drone strikes altogether in the Pakistani border regions with Afghanistan and also whether the U.S. should apologize for NATO airstrikes that killed some two dozen Pakistani soldiers late last year.

Given the high level of hostility to the United States in Pakistan, the results of the parliamentary debate are pretty much a foregone conclusion. The parliament will almost certainly vote against the allowing the continuation of the drone strikes and will also demand an American apology for the deaths of its soldiers.

Read on here.

October 11th, 2011
03:44 PM ET

Video: Who is Saudi Ambassador Al-Jubeir?

The FBI and the DEA have disrupted a plot involving Iran to commit terrorism inside the United States, a senior U.S. official told CNN Tuesday. The official said the alleged plan was directed by elements of the Iranian government and involved a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Read the live blog here.

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Topics: Iran • Saudi Arabia • Terrorism • United States
Al Qaeda responds to Fareed, Peter Bergen and CNN
A prominent al Qaeda leader, Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, disputes Fareed Zakaria's and Peter Bergen's views of Middle East revolutions.
March 31st, 2011
10:45 AM ET

Al Qaeda responds to Fareed, Peter Bergen and CNN

Editor's note: Peter Bergen is the director of the national security studies program at the New America Foundation in Washington, a fellow at New York University's Center on Law and Security and CNN's national security analyst. He is the author of the new book, "The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda."

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

In late February I posted a piece on titled "Al Qaeda the loser in Arab revolutions" making the point that Osama bin Laden must be watching the events in the Middle East unfold with a mixture of glee and despair.

Glee, because overthrowing the dictatorships and monarchies of the Middle East has long been his central goal. Despair, because none of the Arab revolutions has anything to do with him….

The assertion that al Qaeda is a marginal player in the current events in the Middle East has provoked a furious response from the Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is playing a leadership role in "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."


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Topics: Taliban • Terrorism • Yemen
March 21st, 2011
08:48 AM ET

Why Libya 2011 is not Iraq 2003

By Peter Bergen, CNN

First, the Obama administration was handed a gift by the Arab League, which in its more than six-decade history has garnered a well-earned reputation as a feckless talking shop, but unusually took a stand one week ago by endorsing a no-fly zone over Libya. That endorsement put the Arab League way out in front of the Obama administration, which was then dithering about whether to do anything of substance to help the rebels fighting Gadhafi.

The unexpected action by the Arab League gave the administration the impetus and diplomatic cover to then go to the United Nations Security Council to secure a broad resolution endorsing not only a no-fly zone, but also allowing member states to "take all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya.


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Topics: Libya • Military • United Nations