Al Qaeda is trying to topple the government in nuclear powered Pakistan, the US warned on Sunday. Vice President Joe Biden said the Obama administration is trying "to make sure that terrorists do not in fact, bring down the Pakistani government, which is a nuclear power."
The over-arching American goal in the region and the rationale for being there is to defeat, dismantle and ultimately demolish Al Qaeda.
"Towards that end, we think it's important that there be stability in Afghanistan so that Al Qaeda cannot re-establish it as a base from which to attack the United States of America," he was quoted as saying by NBC.
With regard to our efforts to degrade Al Qaeda, we're making great progress, the so-called CT (counter terrorism); the use of special forces and the like to go after individuals who make up the leadership of Al Qaeda and of the Taliban, Biden said.
"On the issue of counter-insurgency, that is where we clear, hold and build and transfer. We're making progress not as rapidly as we are on the other front. The (US) President has been frank to say that in his release, pointing out that we need two things that we're working on very hard and we're making some progress: one, Pakistan and safe havens; and two, governance in Afghanistan," Biden said.
"Our intelligence community is united in the view that the ability of central Al Qaeda -- that is, Osama bin Laden and company in the AfPak area, in those mountains has been significantly degraded and we don't believe they have the capacity from there to pull off a 9/11 type operation," he said.
But what has also happened, as you've noticed, you've seen in the Arabian Peninsula, you've seen in other parts of the world, there are Al Qaeda-related affiliates not under the direct control of Osama, but yet engaged with him, Biden said.
"They are planning a much smaller war, but yet deadly attempts to go after the United States of America. We saw that in the underpants bomber last Christmas we saw that in the Times Square effort," Biden said.
So there are going to be continued efforts to be able to coming -- quite frankly more likely out of places other than the Fatah -- other than Pakistan, where bin Laden is, but we have significantly degraded and knocked off a lot of the main planners and organisers and trainers, he said.