WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaida is still dangerous, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said Monday in a letter to the agency’s employees.
“Today, we have rid the world of the most infamous terrorist of our time,” Mr. Panetta wrote in a letter posted on the CIA’s website.
Mr. Panetta, who has been nominated as the next defense secretary, said nothing can compensate those who have lost family and friends to bin Laden and his henchmen, but he hopes the fact that bin Laden is gone will be a source of comfort “for the thousands of families, here in America and around the globe, who mourn the victims of al-Qaida’s barbarity.”
Mr. Panetta congratulated those who work in the Counter-Terrorism Center and the Office of South Asia Analysis for their expertise, creativity and tradecraft.
“I also extend my profound appreciation and absolute respect to the strike team, whose great skill and courage brought our nation this historic triumph,” he wrote.
Though bin Laden is dead, al-Qaida is not, Mr. Panetta said.
“The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must, and will, remain vigilant and resolute,” he said. “But we have struck a heavy blow against the enemy. The only leader they have ever known, whose hateful vision gave rise to their atrocities, is no more. The supposedly uncatchable one has been caught and killed. And we will not rest until every last one of them has been delivered to justice.”