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Jeh Johnson: Core Al Qaeda is Still A Very Real Threat

Jeh Johnson: Core Al Qaeda is Still A Very Real Threat

Friday on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was quizzed by host Bret Baier, who questioned the administration for continuing to claim core al-Qaeda has been decimated while going after the Khorasan group in Syria.

Baier asked, “The administration has been engaged in this rather public debate in the status of core al Qaeda. On September 23, Ben Rhodes told reporters the Khorasan group in al Qaeda included core al Qaeda operatives from Pakistan and Afghanistan who have made there way to Syria. Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman said the Khorasan group is merely affiliated with core al Qaeda and on Wednesday you listed core al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan as one of several jihadist groups that threaten the U.S. That same day, the White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest said that core al Qaeda has been decimated and destroyed. Has core al Qaeda been decimated and destroyed? Or does it continue to present a threat and is Khorasan really core al Qaeda?”

Johnson answered, “Well, core al Qaeda, as we know it, in Afghanistan and Pakistan is still present. They are not gone. Very definitely through actions of the Bush and Obama administrations over the last decade or so who has done a lot to capture or kill members of core al Qaeda, bin Laden, KSM and others. The group is not what it was in 2001 and what I’m focused on is the fact that there are now all these al Qaeda affiliates and adherents out there in the world that remain active and we still have threats and potential threats to the homeland security from terrorist organizations.” 

Baier pushed on asking, “So when Josh Earnest says it’s been decimated and destroyed in Pakistan and Afghanistan, that’s not true?”

Johnson answered, “We have definitely come a along way in capturing and killing a lot of their leadership, it’s a very, very different organization than what it was just a few years ago as a result.”

Baier continued, “A lot of people say this is semantics, but there are people out there that charge that the Khorasan thing was just made up to do the imminent threat, that the name was to just compartmentalize, but really it’s al Qaeda in a different place.” 

Johnson answered, “The Khorasan group is a very real concern of ours and they are operating in that part of the world, which is why we took action.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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