Video: U.S. official: Al-Qaida has been 'shattered'

  1. Closed captioning of: U.S. official: Al-Qaida has been 'shattered'

    >> obtained exclusive information about just how weak al qaeda has become this as the terror network released a 9/11 anniversary video more than a day late. jim miklaszewski has the latest for us.

    >> it does seem a little odd that it would release the tape a day and a half after 9/11. nevertheless it includes a video from osama bin laden himself from the grave. a cope was obtained. al qaeda 's new number one, ayman al zawahiri who is attempting to rally al qaeda central in the wake of bin laden 's death, but a senior u.s. intelligence official tells nbc news that zawahiri now is constantly on the run. that he's just trying to stay alive and he has no hand in any al qaeda operations. nevertheless, the officials warn that al qaeda cells, particularly in yemen still remain a serious threat, but al qaeda central itself is, quote, shattered. what's telling about this tape is that intelligence officials actually had a copy of the tape more than a week before 9/11, but it took al qaeda this long to get it out, tamron.

    >> what does this new information mean for the terror alert issued over the weekend and on the 9/11 anniversary?

    >> u.s. officials have now questioned 300 individuals. they have found no evidence, hard evidence of an official plot to attack on 9/11. when he thought of an attack it was way too late to launch a sophisticated attack that would induce or result in mass casualties.

    >> one more thing. this new violence in kabul. a targeted attack on the u.s. embassy . what are you hearing about that?

    >> the attack was aimed at the embassy. there's no word yet that anybody or there was any damage or any injuries inside the embassy, sophisticated attacks, rocket-propelled grenades and it's proof that taliban is far from dead.

    >> jim miklaszewski , thank you very much.

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 9/14/2011 11:09:41 AM ET 2011-09-14T15:09:41

U.S. intelligence officials are highly skeptical of reports that al-Qaida's new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has fled Pakistan and gone to either Yemen or Somalia. The officials told NBC News they have no intelligence that al-Zawahiri has left Pakistan.

The officials said it would be extremely risky for al-Zawahiri to try to move "outside his circle of protection" at this point, and that ever since former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden's death, al-Zawahiri spends most of his time "trying to stay alive."

One senior official, noting the claim that al-Zawahiri fled Pakistan came from a Pakistani intelligence official, said, "These are the same people who insisted all along that bin Laden was in Afghanistan."

Earlier Wednesday, a Pakistani intelligence official told NBC News that al-Zawahiri is likely hiding in either Yemen or Somalia. He and his key commanders are believed to have "migrated" from South Asia, the source said.

Al-Zawahiri was bin Laden's deputy and became head of al-Qaida after bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan.

The Pakistani official, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media, said that "solid intelligence reports based on recent al-Qaida arrests" suggested that al-Zawahiri had "gone either to Yemen or Somalia."

An Afghan Taliban source also said al-Zawahiri had left the region, NBC News reported.

Saudi family in Fla. part of 9/11?

Earlier this month, three al-Qaida suspects were arrested in Quetta, Pakistan. American officials praised the arrest operation, saying the detention of the most senior militant — Younis al-Mauritani — was a significant achievement.

Pakistani officials said bin Laden had personally told al-Mauritani to focus on targets of economic importance in the United States, Europe and Australia.

Story: Obama: America does not give in to fear

CIA director David Petraeus told members of Congress Tuesday that al-Qaida's recent losses of bin Laden and others have opened "an important window of vulnerability."

Petraeus predicted that al-Qaida leaders may leave South Asia altogether to escape the CIA, which has quadrupled covert drone strikes against al-Qaida under the Obama administration. He testified at a joint congressional intelligence committee hearing.

Interactive: Al-Qaida timeline (on this page)

Petraeus and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, both said that al-Qaida's Yemeni offshoots and others are growing more daring and dangerous — a sentiment shared by lawmakers.

In a new audio message marking the 9/11 anniversary, al-Zawahiri sought to claim credit for this year's Arab uprisings, saying the 2001 attacks on the U.S. paved the way for the "Arab volcano" sweeping the region a decade later.

Story: 9/11 paved way for Arab Spring, al-Qaida chief says

He urged Arabs to replace toppled regimes with Islamic rule.

The video also included a message that al-Qaida said was recorded by bin Laden before his killing in May by U.S. special forces, in which he warns Americans against "falling as slaves" to the control of major corporations.

In his new message, titled "The Dawn of Imminent Victory," al-Zawahiri also lashed out at the United States for what he called "blatant deception" in showing support for the Arab uprisings while keeping strong ties with leaders in the absolute monarchies of the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia.

NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski and Fakhar Rehman, Reuters, The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Photos: America Remembers

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  1. Joe Caristo of Miami, who once worked at the World Trade Center, stands silently Sunday, Sept. 11, during a ceremony in New York marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Caristo says he lost friends in the 2001 attacks on the twin towers. (Craig Ruttle / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Cho Sok Wells, accompanied by his wife Cathy, kisses their 10-month-old son Cristian while visiting his sister's memorial bench after the 10th anniversary 9/11 ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Sunday. (Shawn Thew / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Visitors embrace in front of the Wall of Names near the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., on Sunday. (Amy Sancetta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. U.S. flight medic Sfc David Bibb of Santa Fe, N.M., holds an American flag on top of a helicopter Sunday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at Forward Operating Base Edi in Afghanistan's Helmand province. (Rafiq Maqbool / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. People gather during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, outside the World Trade Center site in New York. (Oded Balilty / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A young man holds his head as he sits in front of a memorial for FDNY firefighters from Ladder Company 20 who died at the World Trade Center on 9/1. New York City firefighters are commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and honoring the 343 firefighters who died in the line of duty. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Las Vegas firefighter Capt. Eric Littmann walks in a parade commemorating the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Sept. 11, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nev. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. People observe a moment of silence during ceremonies at the World Trade Center site for the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Christoffer Molsins, a soldier from Denmark who is being deployed to Afghanistan, holds his dog tags while standing with thousands of others on Church Street in lower Manhattan as they listen to the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Capt. Erik Schutz, 26, of Medina, Minn., right, and Capt. Matt Schachman, 28, of Wilmette, Ill., raise a new American flag to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as Capt. Ron Hopkins, 27, left, of Honolulu, Hawaii, looks on Sept. 11, 2011 at Forward Operating Base Bostick in Kunar province, Afghanistan. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Helen Jordan of London reads ribbons of remembrance on a fence at St. Pauls Church in Lower Manhattan during events marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Fire fighters and other first responders receive applause as they wind their way through the seats at Parkview Field baseball stadium in Fort Wayne, Ind., Sept 11, 2011. The 9/11 Stair Climb memorial walk started at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. About 400 people attended the event. (Samuel Hoffman /  The Journal Gazette via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Mourners embrace during tenth anniversary ceremonies at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. People react during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Robert Peraza, who lost his son Robert David Peraza in the attacks at the World Trade Center, pauses on Sunday, Sept. 11, at his son's name at the North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial before the 10th anniversary ceremony. (Justin Lane / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Family members arrive Sunday at the check-in area before the ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. President Barack Obama, right; first lady Michelle Obama; former President George W. Bush; and former first lady Laura Bush look out at the North Pool of the 9/11 memorial. (Timothy A. Clary / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. New York City police and firefighters and Port Authority police officers salute during the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Sept. 11 memorial, during the 10th anniversary ceremonies at the site on Sunday. (Chip Somodevilla / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A man walks among nearly 3,000 flags set up as part of a remembrance in St. Louis, Mo., on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (Jeff Roberson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. People arrive Sunday for the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. (Oded Balilty / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Three small stones are placed over a name on one of the plaques in the '9/11 Memorial' outside Jerusalem on Sept. 11, 2011, during a 10th anniversary memorial ceremony marking the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, which killed nearly 3,000 people, including five Israelis. It is customary at Jewish cemeteries to place stones on the graves of loved ones. The memorial here contains a large American flag made of bronze that appears to be billowing in the wind, and has plaques containing all of the nearly 3,000 names of the victims, the only site to do so outside the one at the World Trade Center in New York City. (Jim Hollander / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Peace activists release white doves during a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks in Berlin, Germany, on September 11, 2011. (Sean Gallup / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Members of Clerkenwell Fire Station's Green Watch observe a minute of silence in London, England, on Sunday, remembering their fellow firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. High school students pose for a photo by a damaged replica of the Statue of Liberty in Ishinomaki, Japan, Sunday. As the world commemorated the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, Sunday was doubly significant for Japan. It marked six months since the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11. (Hiro Komae / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. The Tribute in Light shines above lower Manhattan, the Statue of Libertyand One World Trade Center, left, on Saturday. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Family and friends of those aboard Flight 93 gather on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, at the boulder that marks the crash site outside Shanksville, Pa. They were there the day before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks after the dedication of the first phase of the permanent Flight 93 National Memorial. (Gene J. Puskar / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the dedication of the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa.. A long white stone wall bearing the names of those who struggled with al-Qaida terrorists on the fourth airliner to be hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, was unveiled on the rural Pennsylvania field where the Boeing 757 crashed. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and former first lady Laura Bush bow their heads during ceremonies in Shanksville, Pa. (Jason Cohn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. A family member of one of the victims of the crash of United Flight 93 walks along a part of the Flight 93 National Memorial following its dedication. The names of the 40 victims of the crash are inscribed on the marble panels. (Amy Sancetta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. People look out at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 10 in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Workers take off their hard hats off during the playing of the National Anthem after unfurling a flag on One World Trade Center overlooking the national Sept. 11 memorial on Sept. 10. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Workers scrub a waterfall pool at the National September 11 Memorial on Sept. 10 in New York. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A tribute to Sept. 11 is seen at Bryant Park on Sept. 10 in New York. There are 2,753 empty chairs -- one for each life lost in New York during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (Don Emmert / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Flags are carried into St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York during a ceremony Sept. 10 to honor New York firefighters killed in the attacks. (Seth Wenig / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A New York firefighter listens as the daughter of a firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001, speaks during the first repsponders' memorial service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. (Brian Snyder / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. A visitor takes pictures of flags erected at Battery Park in Manhattan, on Sept. 10 as a part of a project called "One Flag One Life" to marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks. (Mladen Antonov / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. The Score family hugs after participating in the "Hand In Hand, Remembering 9/11" event in Battery Park in New York Sept. 10. (Brian Snyder / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A woman writes a message on the wall of remembrance memorial near the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 10. (Don Emmert / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. In Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., on Sept. 10, a man looks at names on the wall of the newly opened Empty Sky memorial to victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The memorial consists of two 30-foot-tall concrete and steel structures, inscribed with the names of the 746 people from New Jersey who died in the attacks. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Dr. Madeline Borquist of Carmel Valley, Calif., uses charcoal to outline the name of her niece, Alison Marie Wildman, during the memorial dedication of the Empty Sky memorial at Liberty State Park on Sept. 10 in Jersey City, N.J. Wildman was killed in the terrorist attacks. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Angela Calos, left, and Heather Benedetto visit the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial on Sept. 10 in Washington. The memorial commemorates the 184 people who died at the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77. (Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. President Barack Obama hugs a visitor during a visit to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington on Sept. 10. (Joshua Roberts / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Judy and Bob Poore place a flag at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia on Sept. 10 to help commemorate the 10th anniversary and remember their friend Ann Ransom, one of nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks. A flag was placed on the battlefield for each victim; the flags will remain flying through Sept. 16. (David Tulis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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Timeline: A timeline of Osama bin Laden's life

Considered enemy No. 1 by the U.S., the Saudi millionaire is the perpetrator behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Click on key dates to learn more about the founder of al-Qaida, an international terror network.

  1. BIN LADEN
    Rahimullah Yousafzai / AP
    Above: Timeline A timeline of Osama bin Laden's life
  2. Timeline Al-Qaida timeline

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