The top US commander in Afghanistan has said al-Qaeda will not be defeated unless its leader, Osama Bin Laden, is captured or killed.BBC News - Gen McChrystal: Bin Laden is key to al-Qaeda defeat
Testifying to the US Congress, Gen Stanley McChrystal said Bin Laden had become an "iconic figure".
He said President Barack Obama's deployment of 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan meant success was possible.
But he said the mission was "undeniably difficult" and the next 18 months would be crucial.
"I don't think that we can finally defeat al-Qaeda until he's captured or killed," said Gen McChrystal of Bin Laden.
"I believe he is an iconic figure at this point, whose survival emboldens al-Qaeda as a franchising organisation across the world," he said.
The general said that killing or capturing Bin Laden would not spell the end of al-Qaeda, but that the movement could not be eradicated while Bin Laden remained at large.
The militant leader is believed to be living in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said last week that officials have had no reliable information on Bin Laden's whereabouts for "years".
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
BBC News - Gen McChrystal: Bin Laden is key to al-Qaeda defeat
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