"Some of the terrorists met their fate in caves and mountains of that country," he said in a Veterans Day speech at the White House. "Others were a little luckier, and they're now in custody answering questions. Yet many trained killers are still scattered amongst 60 nations, and ridding the world of this threat requires a different kind of strategy."
Others have risen to replace those lost, particularly Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, allegedly al Qaeda's Persian Gulf chief and one of two masterminds of the USS Cole bombing in 2000.
Mohammed is still believed to be in Pakistan, a U.S. defense official said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity. Mohammed's aide, another alleged Sept. 11 plotter named Ramzi Binalshibh, was captured in a raid in Karachi in September.
Al-Nashiri, who was in Afghanistan when the war started, is thought to have escaped to Yemen, which would have required a trip by boat or plane, or a long overland journey through several countries. He is probably the top-ranking al Qaeda operative in Yemen, particularly since the CIA killed chief Yemen operative Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi in a missile strike Nov. 3. Two other top al Qaeda operatives have also been on the move, according to officials:
Abu Musab Zarqawi: He fled Afghanistan during the war, going first to Iran, then to Baghdad in Iraq for medical treatment, and then on to Syria, officials said. His presence in Iraq and Iran led to American invective against those nations, although it is unknown whether he had contact with either government. Zarqawi, a Jordanian, was convicted in absentia in connection with a plot to bomb tourist spots in Amman, Jordan, during millennium celebrations.
Abu Zubair al-Haili: This corpulent senior Saudi operative allegedly helped al Qaeda foot soldiers escape from Afghanistan, but he was caught in Morocco in June.
Other key players remain in Pakistan, defense officials say:
Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif: Bin Laden's alleged financial chief and key financier of the Sept. 11 attacks is also known as Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi.
Tawfiq Attash Khallad: A Yemeni missing his right foot, Khallad has been linked to both the USS Cole attack and two Sept. 11 hijackers. A CIA officer once described him as "a major-league killer."
Abu Mohammad al-Masri: U.S. officials have tied al-Masri to the 1993 attacks on U.S. soldiers in Somalia and the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings. An Egyptian on the FBI's most wanted list, he is also known as Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah.
Still others are thought to have escaped to nearby countries:
Saif al-Adil: Bin Laden's alleged security chief went from Afghanistan to eastern Iran, defense officials said. He's wanted for his alleged role in the Somalia attacks and the East Africa embassy bombings.
Mohammad Omar Abdel-Rahman: The son of the "blind sheikh" convicted in connection with a plot to bomb New York landmarks in 1994, the younger Abdel-Rahman is thought to have remained in Afghanistan, the officials said.
— The Associated Press
U.S. Army Reservist Starts Terror Prevention Training Company
Y O R K, Pa., Nov. 12 — Looking to help groups protect themselves against a potential terrorist attack, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves has started a company to help businesses and other groups assess their weaknesses.