Al-Qaeda today is mostly a spent force, unable to carry out another 9/11-style attack, said US intelligence officials yesterday, reports Reuters. The mostly anonymous assessment—in a conference call led by Robert Cardillo, deputy director of US national intelligence—came one year after the killing of Osama bin Laden, with security experts also noting that al-Qaeda had been diminished by the Arab Spring around the Middle East. For the next year at least, an attack using chemical, biological, atomic, or radiological weapons by the "core" group was deemed extremely unlikely.
Of course, there is still the danger of "lone wolf" attacks, like Mohamed Merah in France or home-grown extremists like Anders Behring Breivik (who says he studied al-Qaeda, too). And while al-Qaeda is mostly a shell of what it once was, it has given birth to four major spinoffs that worry intelligence experts, especially the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has made several attempts at hitting the continental United States over the past 18 months, including hiding a bomb in a photocopier toner cartridge in a US-bound plane.