Al Qaeda has increased its operational reach: American Intelligence

February 28th, 2008 - 2:56 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 28 (ANI): Top American intelligence officials have reported that Al Qaeda has increased its operational reach with the assistance of regional terrorist groups.

They said Al Qaeda is busy making plans for direct attacks from its safe refuge in Pakistan’s frontier provinces.

In an address to the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing on National Security Threats, the intelligence Chiefs said Al Qaeda still remains the biggest threat to the US.

“Al Qaeda has extended its operational reach through partnerships and mergers with compatible regional terrorist groups, including a continued effort to expand into Africa. Al Qaeda maintains its desire to possess weapons of mass destruction,” the Director of Defence Intelligence Agency, Lt Gen Michael Maples, said.

“We believe Al Qaeda has expanded its support to the Afghan insurgency,” he said, adding the group continues to “plan, support and direct trans-national attacks from its de facto safe haven” in Pakistan’s largely ungoverned frontier provinces.

Maples also added that Al Qaeda gives an “increased threat” to Pakistan.

“Al-Qaeda remains Pre-eminent terrorist threat to the US as despite our successes, the group has retained or regenerated key elements of its capability, including top leadership, operational middle level lieutenants, and de facto safe haven,” National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell said.

McConnell also appreciated the Pakistani authorities for their cooperation in the US ‘war against terror’. He said Islamabad “helped us more than any other nation” in counter-terrorism operations.

Lieutenant General Maples said Pakistani military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have had “limited effect” on Al Qaeda.

While talking about the threat to the safety of the countrys nuclear arsenal, Lieutenant General Maples maintained that the US had “confidence” in Pakistans ability to safeguard its nuclear weapons.

He also added that Al Qaeda wants to recruit operatives who can travel easily without drawing scrutiny from security services.

“As such, Europe could be used as a platform from which to launch attacks against the United States,” he said. (ANI)

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