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Osama Has Gone Deep Underground, Says President Obama

Washington  :  On the eve of the anniversary of September 11 deadly terror strikes on US, President Barack Obama said American forces were in pursuit of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy who
PTI September 11, 2010 15:42 IST
PTI
Washington  :  On the eve of the anniversary of September 11 deadly terror strikes on US, President Barack Obama said American forces were in pursuit of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy who had been forced to go "deep underground".  A relentless pressure is on in the Af-Pak region to hunt down the world's most wanted terrorist, the president said as he warned Americans to be prepared to face expanded terror threat for years to come from other al-Qaeda cadres.

Declaring that US authorities were no less determined to kill or capture the man behind the September 11 attacks, Obama speaking to reporters in the White House said US fight was with al-Qaeda not with Muslims.  

Saturday, he said, should not only be a day to mourn but to show "we not at war against Islam, we are at war against terrorists that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in mindless and destructive acts."  

"One of the things that we've been very successful at over the last two years is to ramp up the pressure on al Qaeda and their key leaders," Obama said. "As a consequence, they have been holed up in ways that have made it harder for them to operate."

"And part of what's happened is, is bin Laden has gone deep underground. Even Zawahiri, who is more often out there, has been much more cautious," Obama said.  He said capturing or killing bin Laden and Zawahiri would be extremely important to our national security. "It doesn't solve all our problems, but it remains a high priority of this administration," Obama said.

The president acknowledged that even more than eight years of war against terrorism, Americans are not secure and the US needs to be alert.

"I think that, in this day and age, there is always going to be the potential for an individual or a small group of individuals, if they are willing to die, to kill other people," he said, adding, "Some of them are going to be very well organised, and some of them are going to be random. That threat is there".

"It's important, I think, for the American people to understand and not to live in fear, it's just a reality of today's world that there are going to be threats out there," he said.  

The president said US has "greatly improved" the homeland security since 9/11 attacks.  He also warned against overreacting in the face of the threat of terrorism.  

He underlined the need to understand that America's strength in part comes from its resilience. It is important, he said, "we don't start losing who we are or overreacting if, in fact, there is the threat of terrorism out there".

"We go about our business. We are tougher than them. Our families and our businesses and our churches and mosques and synagogues and our Constitution and our values, that's what gives us strength," Obama noted.

"We are going to have this problem out there for a long time to come, but it doesn't have to completely distort us, and it doesn't have to dominate our foreign policy. What we can do is to constantly fight against it."

Though nine years ago, Osama managed to escape the dragnet of the US special forces in the Tora Bora mountains in Nangarhar province of eastern Afghanistan, US intelligence agencies estimate that al-Qaeda has been considerably degraded and is struggling for funding.

Elaborating on the pursuit of the al-Qaeda chieftan, US President said "we have the best minds, the intelligence officers and the pick of the special forces" who are in pursuit of the elusive terrorist.  "And they will continue it day and night as long as I am the president," Obama said. PTI