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CIA head says bin Laden isolated, fighting to survive
* Story Highlights
* Bin Laden isolated from al Qaeda's daily operations, Michael Hayden says
* "He is putting a lot of energy into his own survival," Hayden tells
* Hayden says CIA believes capturing bin Laden would be huge blow to al
* Hayden says al Qaeda hurt by sustained fights with U.S. but remains a
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. intelligence agencies believe Osama bin Laden is
isolated from al Qaeda and spending much of his energy merely surviving, the
head of the CIA said on Thursday.
CIA Director Michael Hayden said hunting down bin Laden remains his agency's
"He is putting a lot of energy into his own survival -- a lot of energy into
his own security," Hayden said in a speech at the Atlantic Council in
"In fact, he appears to be largely isolated from the day-to-day operations of
the organization he nominally heads," he said.
In recent weeks, there have been several U.S. missile strikes by unmanned
drones around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
The United States maintains that Taliban and al Qaeda forces operate with
relative impunity in tribal areas along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and
use those areas as staging grounds to attack U.S. forces and their allies
Hayden said al Qaeda has been hurt by a sustained fight with the United States
and its allies, but remains a threat.
"Al Qaeda has suffered serious setbacks, but it remains a determined, adaptive
enemy unlike any our nation has ever faced," Hayden said. "The war is far from
Regardless of whether bin Laden is actively helping lead the terrorist
organization, the CIA believes capturing or killing him would be a huge blow to
al Qaeda, according to Hayden.
"This is an organization that has never been through a change at the top," he
said. "For 20 years, bin Laden has been the visionary, the inspiration or
harmonizing force behind al Qaeda."
Hayden said it remained to be seen whether bin Laden's deputy, Ayman
al-Zawahiri, could maintain unity in the ranks without him.
"The truth is, we simply don't know what would happen if bin Laden is killed or
captured. But I'm willing to bet that whatever happens, it would work in our
favor," Hayden said.
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