Report: Al-Qaida's Yemen chiefs still menace US

October 3, 2011 - 4:05 AM

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A top U.S. military think tank says killing American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki may have weakened the Yemeni branch's ability to attack the U.S. homeland, but the only way to eliminate the threat is to take out its Yemeni leaders.

Still at large is chief Nasir al-Wahayshi, who once worked for Osama bin Laden. His skills have helped the group survive a U.S.-Yemeni counterterrorist onslaught over the past year, according to the report released Monday by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center.

The authors say al-Wahayshi's strength is also an Achilles' heel, however, because killing him and a few top chiefs would hasten the group's end.

They say Yemen's government should also work with al-Qaida's growing list of tribal enemies, who feel threatened by al-Qaida's recent campaign to seize Yemeni territory.