This one is by reader Dan…
A day after President Bush sought to present evidence showing that Iraq is now the main battlefront against Al Qaeda, the chief US intelligence analyst for international terrorism told Congress that the network’s growing ranks in Pakistan and Afghanistan pose a more immediate threat to the United States.
In rare testimony before two House committees, Edward Gistaro, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, said that Al Qaeda terrorists operating in South Asia are better equipped to attack the United States than the network’s followers in Iraq are.
Asked which arm of Al Qaeda concerned him the most, Gistaro told a joint session of the House armed services and intelligence panels that it was South Asia.
“The primary concern is in Al Qaeda in South Asia organizing its own plots against the United States,” he said. Al Qaeda planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks from its bases in Afghanistan.
The top leaders of the terrorist network, Gistaro added, are “able to exploit the comfort zone in the tribal areas” of Pakistan and Afghanistan and are “bringing people in to train for Western operations.”
“We see increased efforts on the part of Al Qaeda to try and find, train, and deploy people who could get into this country,” he testified.
Meanwhile, a top US general in Afghanistan told Pentagon reporters in a video teleconference that the number of Al Qaeda foot soldiers traveling to South Asia has increased up to 60 percent over the past year.
“It’s increased probably 50 to 60 percent over what it was last year . . . and they come from multiple areas in the Middle East,” said Army Major General David Rodriguez, commander of the 82d Airborne Division.
What is the purpose of the President’s rhetoric?
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