Archive for the ‘war against terror’ Category

Bush Approved Secret Attacks Against Al Qaeda, Others in Syria, Pakistan: New York Times

November 10, 2008

Since 2004, the Pentagon has used broad, secret authority to carry out about 12 attacks against al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, The New York Times reported on its website.
Quoting what it said were more than six unnamed military and intelligence officials and senior Bush administration policy makers, the newspaper said the military operations were authorized by a classified order signed by former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with the approval of President George Bush.

Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld

From TVNZ, New Zealand

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By Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti 
The New York Times

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.
These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

In 2006, for example, a Navy Seal team raided a suspected militants’ compound in the Bajaur region of Pakistan, according to a former top official of the Central Intelligence Agency. Officials watched the entire mission — captured by the video camera of a remotely piloted Predator aircraft — in real time in the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorist Center at the agency’s headquarters in Virginia 7,000 miles away.

U.S. Navy SEAL Insignia

Some of the military missions have been conducted in close coordination with the C.I.A., according to senior American officials, who said that in others, like the Special Operations raid in Syria on Oct. 26 of this year, the military commandos acted in support of C.I.A.-directed operations.

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Omama May Retain Three Top Bush Appointees

November 10, 2008

As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to fill top positions for his incoming government, he faces a stubborn reality: Some of the key individuals he will rely upon to tackle the country’s most serious challenges are holdovers from the current administration — a trio of Bush appointees who will likely stay in place for at least the first year or two of Obama‘s presidency.

In confronting the financial crisis and weakening economy, Obama must turn to Ben S. Bernanke, a Republican and former chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, who will lead the Federal Reserve for at least the first year of the new administration.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is seen during the ... 
US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is seen during the opening of the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Sao Paulo, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said during his speech the world’s big emerging nations must have a big role in upcoming negotiations to fix the planet’s financial system and prevent another global economic meltdown.(AP Photo/Andre Penner)

In assuming control of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama must work with Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was appointed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for a two-year term that will end in late 2009 and, by tradition, can expect to be appointed for a second term as the president’s top military adviser. Mullen shares Obama’s belief in focusing more on Afghanistan but is wary of a timeline for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen ... 
Admiral Mullen .(AFP/File/Nicholas Kamm)

And in guarding against terrorist attacks — while correcting what he considers the Bush administration’s excesses — Obama will rely upon FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, whose term expires in 2011. 

By Alec MacGillis and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 10, 2008; Page A01

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Gallup: Obama Wins on the Economy, McCain on Terrorism

October 14, 2008
by Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ — Barack Obama enjoys a solid advantage over John McCain — 53% to 39% — in U.S. public perceptions of which of the two candidates would better handle the economy as president.


Obama’s current 14-point lead on the economy is better than the 3-point edge he held right after the Republican National Convention in early September (48% to 45%), but is not quite as great as his 19-point margin after the Democratic convention in late August. At that time, 55% preferred him on the issue, compared to 36% choosing McCain.

According to the new USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Oct. 10-12, most Republicans and Democrats consider their own party’s candidate to be more capable of handling the economy than his opponent. The main problem, electorally, for McCain is that a majority of political independents favor Obama on the issue, while only 32% name McCain.

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Britain in for long haul in Pakistan: Foreign secretary

April 21, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) – Visiting Foreign Secretary David Miliband Sunday said Britain wanted a long-term partnership with Pakistan to end militancy in its tribal area bordering Afghanistan.
Miliband was in Peshawar city in northwestern Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border, for talks with new local government leaders. He is due to meet Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Islamabad on Monday.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband (seen here earlier this year) ... 
Foreign Secretary David Miliband has visited Peshawar city in northwestern Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border, for talks with new government leaders.(AFP/Shaun Curry)

“Britain is going to be a partner for a long term. We are not here for a quick fix,” Miliband told a press conference later.

“We are here for a long-term partnership with the country with whom we have very strong cultural, economic and political ties.”

In Peshawar Miliband met provincial governor Owais Ghani and chief minister Amir Haider Hoti to discuss security issues and ongoing cooperation over development in Pakistan’s tribal areas, officials said.

A new government comprising secular parties has replaced the Islamist-led administration of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal which ruled the rugged and lawless North West Frontier Province between 2002-2007.

Britain is providing development aid for Pakistan, especially in its troubled tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, a known hideout for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

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America Needs To Do More Hard Work

March 10, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom 

“We have lift off!”

Those words, spoken at every space launch, bury decades of work and investment necessary to make tough missions successful.

After U.S. military forces toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq, President George W. Bush confidently marched across the flight deck of USS Abraham Lincoln beneath a banner bearing the words “Mission Accomplished.”

That was May 1, 2003.
President Bush addressing sailors aboard USS Abraham Lincoln
Democrats have derided the president since as over confident and ill prepared for the long-term work needed to insure peace and security in a new democratic Iraq.

Today, as we approach May 1, 2008, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes say the war in Iraq is costing the United States $12 Billion every month – three times the predicted monthly costs in 2003.  Add to that thousands of wounded and dead.
USS Lake Erie docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
USS Lake Erie (CG-70) docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

When USS Lake Erie, a U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser, shot down an errant satellite on February 20 of this year, the missile and satellite intercept was rooted in a ship and combat systems development that began in the 1970s and a missile and ballistic missile defense effort that started in 1991. The costs would be staggering but are difficult to tally.

The point is simple: as we watch space shuttle Endeavour launch from the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow for a rendezvous with an orbiting International Space Station, the important thought is not those few seconds of “We have lift off.” The more important part of our space “endeavor” is the huge investment made by engineers, scientists, astronauts, mission planners, financial analysts and tens of thousands of others since the 1950s.

Endeavor’s mission to the ISS will last 16 days: the longest shuttle mission ever to the ISS.  A main task at the ISS will be installing the first stage of the Japanese laboratory called Kibo, a micro-gravity research facility which aims to open a vital new stage in deeper space exploration. Kibo, which means “hope” in Japanese, will be delivered in three stages. Once installed, it will complete the research nucleus of the ISS along with the American, Russian and European laboratories.

The space shuttle Endeavour lifts off from its launch pad at ...
The space shuttle Endeavour lifts off from its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, August 8, 2007.(Scott Audette/Reuters)

Projects like our shuttle and ISS efforts take tons of sweat.

The same might be said of the war in Iraq. The same Democrats that criticized George W. Bush for “Mission Accomplished” are now critical of Senator John McCain for saying that American troops could be in Iraq for a long time – maybe up to 100 years.

This should not be too much a surprise to a nation with troops in Germany since 1945 and troops in South Korea since the brokered cease fire in the mid-1950s.

Tough tasks take a very long time and they also cost a lot of money.

The United States is the richest nation on earth ever – and the longest lasting democracy ever. And the Founders didn’t create our Constitution and the other underpinnings of this greatness overnight: it took years.

Life — and especially foreign policy — is not a viedo game.  It takes care, patience invested energy and time. Patience (for those who have forgotten) is the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.  Thus goals are achieved.

In a society now enamored by lighting fast cell phones and an American Idol contest that only has drama for weeks at a stretch, we might reflect upon American greatness and history which teaches us, without a doubt, that great achievements are only within our grasp after long-term effort and investment — and plenty of it.

Only in America: Boundless Technology; Brilliant Youth

Muhammad Reports from Pakistan, March 5, 2008

March 5, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope that you and your team will be alright. Situation is Pakistan is critical as usual. Now the terrorists have increased their activities. The coming few days are very crucial.

Indications show the terrorists may make a life attempt on President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf has also decided to postpone his foreign visit due to uncertain situation.

Formation of new government is also in the final stage.

Suicide attack in Lahore, which is being considered the heart of Pakistan, has increased terror and fear among the people. Situation in the tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is also very critical as these areas are directly being controlled by the terrorists. Terrorists sitting here have been planning more terrorist attacks in the world. They are also keeping eyes on the United States.

Like most of the tribesmen the US must show hurry in taking action against the terrorists living in the border areas.

A newspaper of Pakistan commented the suicide attack in Lahore. Once more, terrorists have struck right in the heart of a major city. This time, the target is the Naval War College, located at a prime spot along Lahore’s Mall Road.

The strike seems to have been particularly well planned, with initial reports stating one vehicle crashed through the gates of the college while another followed it in. With the entire area — that includes the lush green GOR colony, housing residences of superior court judges and senior bureaucrats and the prestigious Aitchison College for boys — cordoned off, and streets all around affected, ascertaining facts is hard in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

However, several blasts were heard, leading to speculation that the suicide bombing also triggered gas pipe or CNG cylinder explosions.

Six people have been reported dead, at least ten others injured and vehicles parked around the building damaged.

But in many ways, the finer details, the precise chain of events are less relevant than the fact that the terrorists have struck once more. Already, the year 2008 has seen at least 13 major terrorist attacks. The killers, it seems, are able to strike anywhere, at any time.

They have quite evidently succeeded in their main purpose — creating a sense of panic and challenging the writ of the state. The fear running through Lahore in the aftermath of the bombing is proof of this. The city has never known the sense of dread that now lurks everywhere. For the moment, it is these terrorists who hold the upper hand in the battle being fought out across the territory.

But this is not a state of affairs that can be permitted to continue.

The consequences are simply too horrendous to contemplate. It is clear the extremists believed to be behind these attacks have made symbols of state — the army, the police, the navy — their principle targets. They have in other words declared open war on the very institutions that stand for the safety and security of Pakistan itself.

By reaching into Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and other cities, the terrorists have shown how far they can reach out from the northern areas of the country that seem to be their main base. The question is how this rapidly accelerating war can be won. It seems that the stepped-up military action against extremists in FATA and other areas has not damaged their ability to strike in other parts of the country.

Also, those waging this most unholy of wars are obviously unwilling to grant any kind of honeymoon period to the new government. The destruction that suicide bombers are able to unleash represents a weapon that is extremely difficult to counter.

Strategy against such an enemy is not easy to devise. But at this time, it is vital all political forces, all military experts and all institutions that can offer help and support put together their heads and devise a plan to save the country and its citizens — before it is too late to win the war against crazed men ready at any cost to claim lives and wreak havoc on fellow citizens.Dear Sir, your continued cooperation with me and people of tribal areas has been bringing some positive change.

We are grateful for your kindness and love.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan

Pakistan: Muhammad Reports on February 21, 2008

February 21, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope you may be in the best spirit of life.

You are the hope of millions of people living in the rugged mountains on Pak-Afghan border. You have given your time to them. I think the tribesmen of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas will never forget your cooperation and kindness.

The situation in Pakistan is still uncertain as the politicians are not ready to accept each others. They forget one thing that the country is at war with terrorists. Most of the people think that some of the political parties are being financed by the terrorists and this is the reason they want ouster of President Musharraf at all cost.

I want to inform you ouster of Musharraf will strengthen the position of terrorists. It is ironic that terrorists have diverted the attention of world from the real issue. The real issue of Pakistan and world is the elimination of terrorism. Elimination of terrorism is must for democracy and civilisation in Pakistan and tribal areas.

In the presence of terrorists a civilised society cannot be created. Women cannot walk in Pakistan freely. They are being harassad or raped by the terrorists. In the present elections the women were barred from casting their votes. I think the politicians have no right to ask Musharraf to quit.

These corrupt politicians are responsible for the choas and anarchy in the country. The News running a campaign against Musharraf in its editorial discussed the situation. Both the main political heavyweights, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, did not wait for a day before making the demand that President Pervez Musharraf should quit as the people of Pakistan have given their overwhelming mandate against him.

An equally belligerent presidency firmly rejected this demand within hours stating that the president had been elected for five years, and that was here to stay and would work with whoever formed the government. In this some may see the sowing of a potentially (mutually) destructive confrontation in future.

As for the demand that the president step down, there is immense weight in it for the simple reason that the election was in fact a referendum on the president and his policies.

However, fulfilling the demand may be easier said than done. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the president will go down, so to speak, without a fight, though in most democratic and/or civilized countries by now this would have happened. A key factor in this whole situation will be the extent of the backing that the president receives both from the military and Washington.

The PPP and the PML-N have won against heavy odds and after a bitter struggle in which they have offered huge sacrifices — of life, freedoms, prestige, finances, comfort and all. The people of Pakistan have recognized these sacrifices and repaid them with their support and confidence. The parties now have to move on very cautiously to consolidate their gains and ensure that a smooth transition of power takes place in the shortest possible time so that focus can return to the real issues waiting to be addressed.

A premature and unnecessary confrontation with the president would therefore not be in order.The first task of the winners should be to see that the president immediately summons parliament and that the issue of the formation of the government and the leader of the house is decided in a timely fashion.

The PPP and the PML-N have to work together not to rock the boat before it starts sailing. They should set all the contentious issues aside, including, for the moment, that of the restoration of the judges, to get to the next step of the political process.

There should now be no hesitation and embarrassment for Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif to meet the president and discuss with him the next step — of course this will be from a position of great strength and as the voice of the people of Pakistan. The mindset of the leadership must change from that of a persecuted band of unwanted non-entities to genuine claimants of power asking their due share of power.

The issue of Mr Musharraf resigning should be left for a time when he tries to block the people’s mandate and acts in the old ways of a commando not ready to listen to anyone in his bunker.

Mr Musharraf should accept the reality and realize that if he fights it out and stays, it could be as a lame duck president. He should undo all that he has done in the past and this means freeing all political prisoners, deposed judges and lawyers and undoing the curbs imposed on the media including unwarranted bans on certain television anchors.

The managements themselves should have acted since PEMRA has no authority or reason not to listen to the voice of the two main party leaders, one of whom said on Feb 19 that he would even consider disbanding it altogether. By not listening to these popular demands Mr Musharraf is not making the transition to democracy smooth.

If there is any sinister design in following such a course, it will be highly regrettable. People remember the 1970 election as free and fair and give credit to General Yahya Khan but they also remember that he refused to accept the mandate and the consequences were disastrous for the country. The president should now change course and accept the people’s verdict.

Egos should not play any role at this time of national reconciliation.

I have several questions from the politicians and some of the journalists. They are corrupt people, therefore, they will not anwser my questions.

Dear Sir, situation in our areas is very very critical as the terrorists have still been ruling the areas. The US must tell Musharraf and army leadership to take practical steps for elimination of terrorists. They must be directed to at least to abandon the idea of making deal with terrorists or Taliban in tribal areas as they are criminals and there is no justification for making deal with terrorists. Terrorists should be dealt as criminals.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan

Secret talks led to Pakistan cease-fire

February 7, 2008
By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD, Associated Press Writer

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – Two Pakistani officials said Thursday that their government held secret talks with Taliban fighters and tribal elders near the Afghan border before a cease-fire just announced by the militants.
The officials familiar with the talks said they took place at an undisclosed location in South Waziristan, a semiautonomous region that is home to scores of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, many of whom fled there from neighboring Afghanistan after the U.S-led invasion in 2001. The officials would not say who represented the government or how long the dialogue had been going on.

Militant representatives included Siraj….

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Supporters of Pakistan's slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto ...
Supporters of Pakistan’s slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto chant slogans as they arrive to attend a ceremony marking the end of the 40- day mourning period, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008, in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, Pakistan. About 10,000 mourners gathered at the tomb of Bhutto to mark the end of the mourning period for her death, as her party prepared to resume campaigning for crucial Feb. 18 elections.
(AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Rice on unannounced visit to Afghanistan

February 7, 2008
By Anne Gearan, AP Diplomatic Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit Thursday, carrying a joint message of support and prodding to Afghan officials as the U.S. continued a drive to recruit more NATO troops.

This is an image release by the International Security Assistance ...
This is an image release by the International Security Assistance Force of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shaking hands with Canadian Major-General Marc Lessard, the Commander of Regional Command (South), during her visit to the Regional Command (South) Headquarters at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan Thursday Feb. 7, 2008. Rice was on the visit with Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Rice said Thursday the Afghan government must meet its responsibilities in fighting a resurgent Taliban as the United States and Britain lead an effort to boost the number of NATO combat forces. In a show of unity, Rice was making the point as she and David Miliband got a firsthand look at the front lines of the NATO-led fight against insurgents in Kandahar, visiting an alliance airfield in this former Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan.
(AP Photo/Liepke Plankcke/ Royal Netherlands Air Force, ISAF, HO)

Rice and Miliband flew together to the Afghan capital from London. They were seeing Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other officials amid a welter of outside assessments that progress in the six-year war is stalling.

The two made clear they expect cooperation from the Karzai government, widely seen as weak.
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US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) and British Foreign ...
Prime Minister Gordon Brown (R) and Foreign Secretary David Miliband (L) with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at 10 Downing Street in London. Rice and Miliband travelled to the heart of the Taliban insurgency during a surprise trip to Afghanistan.
(AFP/Pool/Sang Tan)

Al Qaeda Threat to Pakistan’s Survival

February 7, 2008

By  Sridhar Krishnaswami
India Abroad
February 6, 2008

Al Qaeda and Taliban elements which have moved beyond Pakistan’s tribal areas are threatening the country’s survival, a top United States intelligence official has said in an unusually strong warning, asserting that only the army had the ‘strength’ to check the menace.

“I think the most significant thing in the recent situation is the threat has moved into Pakistan proper to threaten the very existence of the (state). Pakistan has now recognised that this is an existential threat to their very survival,” director of national intelligence Admiral Michael McConnell said.

He said the Pakistani leadership was taking steps to be more aggressive in getting control of the situation, with regard to not only Al Qaeda, but also the militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

His comments came after senior law makers, cutting across party lines, expressed serious concern at the terror threat coming out of Pakistan, especially in the FATA of the north.

“The militancy emanating from the tribal areas has grown so strong that it has spread to the settled areas of Pakistan, in the North-West Frontier province, but also reaching into the heart of Pakistan’s cities, including Islamabad. The most egregious example of this, of course, is Benazir Bhutto,” remarked senior Republican Senator Orin Hatch.

“At what point do you believe it would be better to pronounce the current Pakistani government a complete failure in advancing security for us or even their own people? And what Pakistani institutions could successfully stand against these threats?”  he asked McConnell.

“The only institution that has the strength to do what you just described is the Pakistani army,” the official said. He, however, added that the force was not adequately trained to carry out anti-insurgency operations.

“So that discussion is taking place in Pakistan now. And there will be changes in time to be more aggressive in addressing this threat,” McConnell said.

He said it was a ‘very critical time’ for the Pakistan government as the country was going through a transition to democracy. “It is a key point in Pakistani history. For the first time in their history, their legislature finished a term, and the elections are happening later this month on the 18th”.

“I’ve spoken to my counterparts in Pakistan and General Kayani, who’s chief of the army staff. I think they would agree in broad outline with your analysis,” said Gen Michael Hayden, head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani speaks at the ... 
Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani speaks at the test-firing of a medium-range Shaheen-1 (Haft-IV) ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in Pakistan January 25, 2008. Kayani dismissed on Friday fears that the country’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic militants as the military test fired a nuclear-capable missile.

Pakistani military operations in FATA have had ‘limited effect’ on Al Qaeda, the head of the Defence Intelligence Agency Gen Michael Maples said.

“However, Pakistan recognises the threat and realises the need to develop more effective counterinsurgency capabilities to complement their conventional military,” he added.

Reiterating the state department’s view that the US was not getting enough information on top militant leadership, Admiral McConnell said, “If we had the locating information, particularly of the leadership, we would be able to carry out actions to neutralise the leadership. So that specific information we seek. We do not have it”.

In his opening statement, Senator John Rockefeller pointed out the fact that after six and a half years since September 11, 2001, the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden remains at large.

“That is a source of embarrassment and concern to all of you,” he said. “Al Qaeda has used this border safe haven to reconstitute itself and launch offensive operations that threaten to undo the stability of Afghanistan and undermine, if not overthrow, the Pakistan government,” Rockefeller remarked.

Another Democrat Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana asked the intelligence community if it would strike the balance between the United States getting involved and the risk of ‘destabilising an already fairly tenuous regime’ in Pakistan.

“How do we strike that balance? And when do we conclude that, if the Pakistanis simply can’t do it by themselves, that we have to do more and essentially say, ‘Look, if you can’t do it, we’re going to have to do more, and we’re going to do what we need to do here, because we can’t afford to have a repetition of the Afghan situation’? Bayh asked.

“I think there’s more commonality of view between us and our partners that this is a threat to both of us. In the tribal area, Pakistanis were concerned about it, but the threat emanating from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas was more a threat outside of Pakistan than it was to Pakistan, per se,” Gen Hayden of the CIA said.

Maples said Al Qaeda has expanded its support to the Afghan insurgency and presents an increased threat to Pakistan, while it continues to plan, support and direct transnational attacks. It has extended its operational reach through partnerships with compatible regional terrorist groups, including a continued effort to expand into Africa.

“Al Qaeda maintains its desire to possess weapons of mass destruction,” Maples said.