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NIE: al-Qaeda Regrouped, Stronger In Pakistan

While not news to regular ThreatsWatch readers, the National Intelligence Estimate recently produced by CT analysts officially documents that Al-Qaeda is not 'on the ropes' or even weakened any more than it is lead by two men darting about from cave to cave. They are, in fact, stronger, more capable of producing terrorists and more comfortable in their havens carved out in Pakistan than they were in Afghanistan prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Counterterrorism analysts produced the document, titled "Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West." The document pays special heed to the terror group's safe haven in Pakistan and makes a range of observations about the threat posed to the United States and its allies, officials said.

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

The group also has created "the most robust training program since with an interest in using European operatives," the official quoted the report as saying.

And the threat to and from Europe is troubling.

Several European countries—among them Britain, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands—are also highlighted in the threat assessment partly because they have arrangements with the Pakistani government that allow their citizens easier access to Pakistan than others, according to the counterterrorism official.

This is more troubling because all four are part of the U.S. visa waiver program, and their citizens can enter the United States without additional security scrutiny, the official said.

It must be recognized that, in the course of this long war, there will be no final defeat of al-Qaeda without major unforgiving ground operations within Pakistan.

"Sooner or later you have to quit permitting them to have a safe haven" along the Afghan-Pakistani border, he [CIA director of analysis John Kringen] told the House committee. "At the end of the day, when we have had success, it is when you've been able to get them worried about who was informing on them, get them worried about who was coming after them."

And that, "sooner or later," will most probably fall by default to the United States to execute, quite probably after the Pakistani government and its military are taken over by the Islamists within or aligned with the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance that already dominates a significant percentage of Pakistani territory. This territory now includes the Swat agency, quietly but officially ceded to the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance last week to go along with the previously ceded areas of North Waziristan, South Waziristan and Bajour.

We and others have been communicating the resurgent strength of al-Qaeda for months. It is now officially and formally discussed in an NIE in apparently unequivocal terms.

The question remains: What to do and when?

We know to whom the tasks fall.

7 Comments

I would conduct major unforgiving Air Force Operations.
...but that's just me.

ABC News had reports and videos of Taliban resurgence almost 3 years ago, I think. Would be interesting to know if Alexis Debat was involved in those excellent posts.
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Yon:
Al-Qaeda on the Run: Feasting on the Moveable Beast

Thanks for adding Michael Yon's link. Funny how al-Qaeda is in trouble in Iraq and resurging in Pakistan, yet it is from Iraq that our politicians want to disengage, and there is never a mention of a Pakistan solution - realistic, fantasy or otherwise. It's truly stunning. I never get used to the atmosphere.

Regarding 'unforgiving airstrikes,' this can be but a part of the solution/operations. Please recall Tora Bora. There is no negotiating nor tempered operations that will destroy al-Qaeda, and no solution short of the destruction of a martyrdom-seeking fanatical ideologues. And this is the difference between combating al-Qaeda and combating Iraqi insurgent groups. Their endgames are different and thus our methods can be different and even tempered.

An insurgency is won by causing combatants to lay down their arms or pointing them in the opposite direction. (1920's Brigades, anyone?)

A war against terrorists with a deathwish is won by granting their wish on our terms, nearly down to the (fanatical) man by necessity.

I see the trademarks of Carl Rove here once again. Here we go with the fear mongering so characteristic of the Bush administration. Please vote these people out of office! The Bush administration has to be the best propaganda arm that Al Queda has.

Turn the carriers into the wind.

Must disagree on the 1920 Brigade in Anbar analogy. General Lynch discribed the situation clearly. The Tribes will work with US against aQ, but not in concert with the Persians in Baghdad.
The Baghdadi are the ultimate enemy for the Anbar Tribes, still.

Mr Bremmer set the tone of US policy goals in Iraq. The disempowering of the Tribes was the cornerstone to that policy. To now reinforce the Tribes position of dominance in Anbar is no vitory for US, except on a tactical level.
It is a strategic defeat of US policy, circa 2003 & '04. Lest we forget

It's Karl, not Carl Ron.

Steve, excellent question. If we are to win against al Qaeda in Iraq by leaving, what is their solution for al Qaeda in Pakistan? Not go in at all?

A few things about this sad "revelation" come to mind.

- what did anyone expect when Musharraf ceded Waziristan to the Taliban and they took control of the NW area?

- I forget where I read it, but there is a tendency to "mix and match" al Qaeda and the Taliban. Are they really interchangable? It is the Taliban more than al Qaeda that has resurrected, is it not?

- will history eventually see Musharraf as the Neville Chamberlain of our times (and of the War on Terrorism)?

Of course, the complication is that Pakistan is a nuclear state.