The good news: Al-Qaeda is on the verge of total collapse, thanks to the killing of Osama bin Laden and punishing drone attacks that have killed more than 1,200 militants in Pakistan since 2004, reports the Washington Post. "We are within reach of rendering them ... largely incapable of catastrophic attacks against the homeland," says a senior counterterrorism official. The bad news: The terror threat won't collapse with it. A new generation of radicals and dangerous offshoots means that terrorism will continue to be a real threat; al-Qaeda's Yemen affiliate in particular is a major concern.
“There is a swagger within the community right now for good reason,” says a member of the Senate's intelligence committee in regards to al-Qaeda, but "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is nowhere near defeat." With that group in mind, Obama recently OKed the construction of a secret desert airstrip that will allow the US to fly armed drones over Yemen. "Terrorist organizations, even more than enemy armies, are capable of reconstituting," adds a senior counterterrorism official. "The thing we absolutely don’t want to do is hang out another ‘Mission Accomplished’ sign." (Read more al-Qaeda stories.)