WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the main al-Qaida terrorist group is "decimated," but its regional groups are powerful enough to attack U.S. interests.

Obama says al-Qaida's core is less able to carry out a terrorist attack on the scale of the 2001 attacks on the U.S. But he says offshoots like the one in Yemen have the capacity to go after U.S. embassies and businesses around the world.

The threat of such an attack prompted the U.S. to close 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and North Africa last week.

U.S. intelligence officials had intercepted a message between a top al-Qaida official and his deputy in Yemen about plans for a major terror attack targeting U.S. or other Western sites abroad.