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Is Libya an 'arms bazaar' for terrorists?

Counterterrorism chief John Brennan says it is now much harder for Al Qaeda to carry out an attack in the US. But he's keeping an eye on Libya's weapons stockpiles.

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In other highlights, the White House counterterrorism chief:

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  • Praised Pakistan for its recent intelligence cooperation with the US, citing the counterterrorism relationship as a contributing factor in the killing in Pakistan last month of Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman.
  • Cautioned that the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is taking advantage of Yemen’s continuing political instability, holding on to territory and transitioning into the role of a full-blown insurgency.
  • Cited Saudi Arabia as a leading example of a broader international “sea change” since the 9/11 attacks in many countries’ perception of and attention to terrorism.
  • Insisted that closing the Guantánamo detention facility remains the goal of the Obama administration despite numerous “congressional roadblocks” that have slowed the effort.

Brennan also said the trove of materials seized in the raid of Osama bin Baden’s compound in Pakistan revealed that the Al Qaeda leader was still bent on attacking the US. Some documents suggest Mr. bin Laden was having trouble accepting that mounting a successful attack had become more difficult.

“He was a little out of touch with just how debilitated his organization was,” Brennan said. “His lieutenants were trying to tell him that.”

If the materials seized at the Abbottabad compound held any surprises, he added, it was – contrary to what was “assumed all around” – that Pakistan did not have any “complicity” in bin Laden’s ability to maintain a refuge in the country.

“I have not seen anything to suggest the Pakistanis were aiding his refuge in Abbottabad,” he said. If there was any official complicity, he added, “I haven’t seen it.”

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