National security adviser Tom Donilon
Photo: AP
Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two
Photo: AP
US official: Al-Zawahiri is no bin Laden
Obama's security aide Tom Donilon says huge intelligence cache seized from al-Qaeda leader's compound, notes operation had 50-50 chance of success

The national security adviser for the White House says the material seized from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan amounts to the largest cache of intelligence ever gathered from any single terrorist.


National security adviser Tom Donilon says the CIA estimated the intelligence haul to be the size of a small college library.


Donilon says the US can't consider al-Qaeda to be strategically defeated. But he says the US has reached an important milestone in the struggle to take down the terrorist organization.


"They as an organization will have to work themselves through some sort of succession," he said.


He noted, however, that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon long considered al-Qaeda's number two, "is not anywhere near the leader that Osama bin Laden was."


Killing bin Laden, he said, was "a real blow" to al-Qaeda.

Obama, Donilon at situation room (Photo: White House Press)


Donilon made the rounds of Sunday television talk shows a day after a handful of videos were released showing bin Laden in propaganda tapes.


He spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union."


The success of the raid was far from certain, Donilon said. President Barack Obama was given intelligence updates over several months and thought there was a 50-50 chance that bin Laden was in the compound, Donilon said, adding that the president had total confidence in the ability of the special forces to execute the mission.


The administration has considered the risk of terrorist retaliation, he said.


"We fully expect the threat to continue," Donilon said. "We'll continue to press very hard and take every opportunity we have as this organization tries to survive."


AFP contributed to this report



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