Obama says Al-Qaeda 'hammered' but terror threat real

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his visit at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base with troops and their families to thank them for their service on Aug 7, 2013 in Camp Pendleton, California. President Barack Obama insisted on Wedne
US President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his visit at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base with troops and their families to thank them for their service on Aug 7, 2013 in Camp Pendleton, California. President Barack Obama insisted on Wednesday that Al-Qaeda's leaders were on the ropes, but admitted the threats that have closed US embassies across the Middle East must be taken seriously. -- PHOTO: AFP

CAMP PENDLETON, United States / California (AFP) - President Barack Obama insisted on Wednesday that Al-Qaeda's leaders were on the ropes, but admitted the threats that have closed US embassies across the Middle East must be taken seriously.

His remarks to around 3,000 Marines at Camp Pendleton military base in California came after around 20 US missions were shut in response to intelligence reports that an attack on US interests could be imminent.

"Because of you, Al-Qaeda's top ranks have been hammered," the US president told the troops. "The core of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the way to defeat. That happened because of you." But, turning to the current threat, Mr Obama said information about a possible act of terror would have to be scrutinised and dealt with.

"The end of the war in Afghanistan doesn't mean the end of threats to our nation. We've been reminded of this again in recent days. So I want to take a special time out to salute all our brave diplomats and tireless intelligence and military personnel who have been working around the clock to safeguard our embassies and our consulates and our fellow Americans serving overseas."

Following the embassy closures, Yemen said on Wednesday it had foiled an Al-Qaeda plot to storm a Western-run oil terminal and seize a provincial capital. The United States has pulled diplomatic staff out of Yemen.

Mr Obama said "extremists" would not halt US policy overseas.

"Here's what those who would cowardly attack our civilians don't get: The United States is never going to retreat from the world," he said.

"We don't get terrorised. We're going to keep standing up for our interests."