Al Qaeda continues to plot from Pakistan: US

Washington, May 27 (IANS) The top White House counterterrorism adviser says President Barack Obama has refocused US efforts on Afghanistan as ‘Al Qaeda continues to plot from the tribal regions along the border with Pakistan and inside of Pakistan.’

‘The President’s strategy is unequivocal with regard to our posture,’ John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism said Wednesday at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank.

‘The United States of America is at war. We are at war against Al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates,’ he said in a preview of Obama’s National Security Strategy being released Thursday.

‘That is why the President is responsibly ending the war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11, and why he has refocused our efforts on Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda continues to plot from the tribal regions along the border with Pakistan and inside of Pakistan.’

‘To deny Al Qaeda and its affiliates safe haven, we will take the fight to Al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates wherever they plot and train,’ he said.

‘In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond, we are not only delivering severe blows against the leadership of al Qaeda and its affiliates, we are helping these governments build their capacity to provide for their own security-to help them root out the al Qaeda cancer that has manifested itself within their borders and to help them prevent it from returning,’ he said.

Citing the example of Pakistani American David Headley charged with helping to plan the Mumbai attacks, Brennan noted that ‘an increasing number of individuals here in the United States become captivated by extremist ideologies or causes.

‘Somali Americans from Minnesota travelling to fight in Somalia, the five Virginia men who went to Pakistan seeking terrorist training, David Headley, the Chicago man charged with helping to plan the Mumbai attacks, the Pennsylvania woman, Jihad Jane, charged with conspiring to murder a Danish cartoonist.’

‘The president’s national security strategy explicitly recognizes the threat to the United States posed by individuals radicalised here at home,’ Brennan said.

‘We have seen individuals, including US citizens, armed with their US passports, travel easily to extremist safe havens and return to America, their deadly plans disrupted by coordinated intelligence and law enforcement,’ he said citimg the case of ‘Najibullah Zazi, who received his instruction in bomb making in Pakistan.’

‘Unfortunately, we were unable to thwart Faisal Shahzad, accused of attempting to set off the car bomb in Times Square,’ Brennan said citing the case of yet another Pakistan born naturalised American.

With Obama’s new strategy, the US ‘will defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates; we will build a strong and resilient nation; and we will ,remain faithful to our values that make us Americans. That is how we will prevail in this fight,’ he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])