Despite six years of a war on terror that has seen thousands of Taliban soldiers killed, camps shut down and areas bombed, the United States warned al-Qaida is stronger now than they were before Sept. 11, 2001.
A new threat assessment coming from U.S. counter-terrorism experts says the terrorist organization has used its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border to bring its operational capacity to a level unseen since the months before 9/11.
At a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, CIA analysis director John Kringen says al-Qaida is much stronger than they were a year ago and has regrouped considerably since 2001.
“They seem to be fairly well settled into the safe haven and the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan,” Kringen testified. “We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications. We see that activity rising.”
The assessment comes from 16 U.S. intelligence agencies preparing a National Intelligence Estimate, which focuses on threats to the U.S. The document has been in the works for the last two years.
At a press conference Thursday U.S. President Bush says he was aware the report existed and stated al-Qaida continues to threaten the United States. He used the new assessment to call for renewed support of the war in Iraq.
“Because of the actions we’ve taken, al-Qaida is weaker today than they would have been,” says the American President. “They are still a threat. They are still dangerous. And that is why it is important that we succeed in Afghanistan and Iraq and anywhere else we find them.”
Counter-terrorism officials are worried about al-Qaida’s recent operations and this week Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he had a ‘gut feeling’ the United States faced a high risk of attack this summer.
Numerous organizations say they know of no specific, credible threat of a new attack on U.S. soil, however the report speaks of ‘significant gaps in intelligence’, so authorities may not know if an attack is coming.
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