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AP: It’s Harder/Easier For Al Qaeda To Attack US

From the anonymous sources at the Associated Press:

Al-Qaida works to plant U.S. operatives

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer Fri Jul 13

WASHINGTON – Al-Qaida is stepping up its efforts to sneak terror operatives into the United States and has acquired most of the capabilities it needs to strike here, according to a new U.S. intelligence assessment, The Associated Press has learned.

The draft National Intelligence Estimate is expected to paint an ever-more-worrisome portrait of al-Qaida’s ability to use its base along the Pakistan-Afghan border to launch and inspire attacks against the United States over the next several years.

Yet, the government’s top analysts concluded that U.S. soil has become a harder target for the extremist network, thanks to worldwide counterterror efforts since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Among the key findings of the classified estimate, which is still in draft form and must be approved by all 16 U.S. spy agencies:

• The U.S. will face “a persistent and evolving terrorist threat” within its borders over the next three years. The main danger comes from Islamic terrorist groups, especially al-Qaida, and is “driven by the undiminished intent to attack the homeland and a continued effort by terrorist groups to adapt and improve their capabilities.”

• Al-Qaida is probably still pursuing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and would use them if its operatives developed sufficient capability.

• The terror group has been able to restore three of the four key tools it would need to launch an attack on U.S. soil: a safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas, operational lieutenants and senior leaders. It could not immediately be learned what the missing fourth element is.

• The group will bolster its efforts to position operatives inside U.S. borders. In public statements, U.S. officials have expressed concern about the ease with which people can enter the United States through Europe because of a program that allows most Europeans to enter without visas.

The document also discusses increasing concern about individuals already inside the United States who are adopting an extremist brand of Islam.

On a positive note, analysts concluded that increased international efforts over the past five years “have constrained the ability of al-Qaida to attack the U.S. homeland again and have led terrorist groups to perceive the homeland as a harder target to strike than on 9/11.”

Government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been finalized, described it as an expansive look at potential threats within the United States…

The estimate echoes the findings of another analysis prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center earlier this year and disclosed publicly on Wednesday. That report — titled “Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West” — found the terrorist group is “considerably operationally stronger than a year ago” and has “regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001,” a counterterrorism official familiar with the reports findings told the AP…

Really?

Here is what the Associated Press said about that report:

Al-Qaida has rebuilt, U.S. intel warns

By MATTHEW LEE and KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – A new threat assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts says that al-Qaida has used its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border to restore its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before Sept. 11, 2001.

A counterterrorism official familiar with a five-page summary of the document — titled “Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West” — called it a stark appraisal. The analysis will be part of a broader meeting at the White House on Thursday about an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate.

The official and others spoke to The Associated Press on condition they not be identified because the report remains classified

Al-Qaida is “considerably operationally stronger than a year ago” and has “regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001,” the counterterrorism official said, paraphrasing the report’s conclusions. “They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States.” …

At the same time, this official said, the report speaks of “significant gaps in intelligence” so U.S. authorities may be ignorant of potential or planned attacks

So which is it?

Is Al Qaeda “showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States”?

Or have “increased international efforts over the past five years constrained the ability of al-Qaida to attack the U.S. homeland again”?

Which anonymous officials commenting on as yet unreleased reports are we to believe?

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, July 13th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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