U.S. intelligence Chief Leon Panetta said on Thursday he believes that al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is still hiding in Pakistan and the CIA hopes to find him through joint operations with Pakistani forces.
Panetta said after a speech on Capitol Hill that finding Bin Laden remains one of the CIA's top priorities.
One of our hopes is that the Pakistanis move in militarily, combined with our operations, we may be able to have a better chance to find him, he said.
Panetta said al Qaeda remains the most serious security threat to the United States and its leaders, particularly in Pakistan, continue to plot against America.
He said in his speech that the CIA has increased the number of officers and agents in Pakistan who are providing targeting and other information to attack the al Qaeda network there.
There are a number of people on the ground in Pakistan providing intelligence on al Qaeda targets to the United States, he said.
The intelligence agency also is focusing on countries where al Qaeda might find safe haven, like Somalia and Yemen, Panetta said.
Al Qaeda has been severely weakened in Afghanistan since US-led forces toppled their Taliban hosts in response to the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.