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Seth G. Jones, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation who until February worked on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues for United States Special Operations Command, expressed caution about the idea that Al Qaeda in Pakistan is on its last legs. “Central Al Qaeda and a mix of other groups in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia are capable of pulling off an attack in the U.S. homeland,” he said. In an assessment drawn from nearly four years as head of the counterterrorism center, Mr. Leiter warned that while Al Qaeda’s ability to pull off another attack on the scale of Sept. 11 has greatly diminished, smaller attacks carried out by the remaining leadership of Al Qaeda or Qaeda franchises, or adherents in Yemen and Somalia, or possibly by homegrown terrorists in the United States, could still cause tremendous physical, psychological and emotional damage. “Small events can still have a strategic impact,” he said.