Last week, his administration made the decision to temporarily close 22 US embassies amid potential threats posed by the terror group’s Yemen-based branch, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The President did admit in a TV interview with NBC’s Jay Leno the latest terrorism threats were “significant enough” to warrant closing the diplomatic posts and issuing a worldwide travel alert.
In a White House press conference, Obama stated the closing of embassies throughout the Arab region did not contradict claims he previously made in May, that the al Qaeda core had been “decimated”.
He referred back to that speech and reiterated that al Qaeda and other extremists have now changed into “regional groups that can pose significant dangers” to the United States and its embassies.
“It’s entirely consistent to say that this tightly organized and relatively centralized al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 has been broken apart and is very weak and does not have a lot of operational capacity, and to say we still have these regional organizations like AQAP that can pose a threat,” said Obama.
“So this is an on-going process. We are not going to completely eliminate terrorism. What we can do is to weaken it and to strengthen our partnerships in such a way that it does not pose the kind of horrible threat that we saw on 9/11.”
In September 2012 militia attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others. Republicans have regularly criticised President Obama’s handling of the crisis.