Washington, April 28 (IANS) Even though America was now safer following the death of Osama bin Laden, there was no proverbial "silver bullet" to destroy the Al Qaeda terror network, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said.
Panetta's statement comes just days before the first anniversary of the US special forces operation on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan's Abbottabad city, CNN reported.
Bin Laden was killed May 2, in a manhunt that began following the 9/11 terror attacks.
"Having been involved in operations even before bin Laden, it was clear that there is no kind of silver bullet here to suddenly be able to destroy Al Qaeda and that includes going after bin Laden," Panetta was quoted as saying.
"The way this works is that the more successful we are in taking down those that represent their spiritual and ideological leadership, the greater our ability to weaken their threat to this country," he said.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security has warned of the possibility of terror attacks leading up to or even after the anniversary of the killing of bin Laden.
The warnings said that individuals have posted messages on "violent extremist web forums" vowing attacks on the US around the anniversary, according to CNN.
"I don't think there's any question that America is safer as a result of the bin Laden operation. It doesn't mean that they don't remain a threat. It doesn't mean that we somehow don't have the responsibility to keep going after them wherever they are," Panetta said.
He described the Abbottabad raid as "tense", with several "nerve-wracking moments".
Panetta - who was the then CIA director - recalled the moment when one of two helicopters crashed at the compound in Pakistan.
"Just the fact that having those helicopters going 150 miles into Pakistan and the concern about whether or not they would be detected. And then actually going in to the compound when one of the helicopters went down because of the heat coming off the ground. It was just hotter than anybody had anticipated. And obviously that was pretty nerve-wracking," he said.
"Fortunately, we had a back-up helicopter that came in and was able to pick up the people that were there," he said.
Panetta said the biggest question during the operation was "whether or not bin Laden was really there".
"We had no specific information that he was actually located there. All we had was, you know, just a lot of circumstantial intelligence and information. But all of us were, were kind of holding our breath to find out whether or not he was actually there," he said.
When the commandos entered the compound, and uttered the code word "Geronimo", Panetta said, there "was a huge sigh of relief by everybody involved in that".
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