The terrorist attack in Algeria that left three Americans and 34 other hostages dead shows that al Qaeda is “committed to creating terror” no matter where its members are located and that America has “got to fight back,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday.

“I’m glad we were able to get some rescued, but we did lose three Americans,” Panetta told a small group of reporters Monday as he left the inaugural lunch at the Capitol. “That just tells us al Qaeda is committed to creating terror wherever they are, and we’ve got to fight back.”

He said the militant groups have shown a capacity to rebound even after being pushed out of safe havens.

Panetta’s comments reflected a speech he gave in November in which he said the end is not near in the U.S. fight against al Qaeda.