US calls al Qaeda 'pre-eminent terrorist threat'

US State Department report says some of al Qaeda's "affiliates have grown stronger".

Afp August 19, 2011
US calls al Qaeda 'pre-eminent terrorist threat'

WASHINGTON: The US government said Thursday that al Qaeda remained the "most pre-eminent terrorist threat" to the United States, especially with its "cooperation" with militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In an annual report, the US State Department also said some of al Qaeda's "affiliates have grown stronger," like the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Shebab based in Somalia.

"Al Qaeda (AQ) remained the pre-eminent terrorist threat to the United States in 2010," the State Department said in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2010.

"Though the AQ core in Pakistan has become weaker, it retained the capability to conduct regional and transnational attacks," it said.

AQ's cooperation with militants based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it said, "was critical to the threat the group posed."

It said "increased resource-sharing between AQ and its Pakistan-based allies and associates such as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Haqqani Network meant the aggregate threat in South Asia remained high."

The report said TTP gave support to US citizen Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to stage a car bombing in New York's Times Square in May.

And following a bid on December 25, 2009 to bring down an airplane bound for the US city of Detroit, it said AQAP shipped bombs in the cargo holds of several planes in a failed bid to blow them up in October last year.

Al-Shebab "gained strength in 2010," claiming responsibility in July for twin suicide bombings that killed 76 people in the Ugandan capital Kampala, it said. It was the group's "first major attack" outside of Somalia, it noted.

"Al-Shebab's widening scope of operations, safe haven in Somalia, and ability to attract western militants made it a continuing threat to US interests in the region," according to the report.

A statistical annex prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center showed that more than 11,500 terrorist attacks occurred in 72 countries last year, causing more than 13,200 deaths.

"Although the number of attacks rose by almost five percent from the previous year, the number of deaths declined for a third consecutive year, dropping 12 percent from 2009," the State Department said.

"For the second consecutive year, the largest number of reported attacks occurred in South Asia and the Near East, with more than 75 percent of the world's attacks and deaths occurring in these regions," it added.


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