US: Pakistan al-Qaeda is top threat

US state department report highlights growing threat of group's affiliates in Africa.

    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and others highlightr the emergence of al-Qaeda affiliates [File: AFP]

    "In addition to these operational setbacks, al-Qaeda continued to fail in its efforts to carry out the attacks that would shake governments in the Muslim world," the report said.

    In the report the number of so-called terrorist attacks and related deaths worldwide was said to be down to about 11,000 and 15,000 respectively in 83 countries.

    The number of attacks is the lowest in the last five years of the report, down from a peak of 14,443 in 2006. Nearly 23,000 were said to have died due to alleged terrorist attacks in 2006.

    Muslim opposition

    Muslims were cited as increasingly opposing al-Qaeda, after groups claiming affiliation to the network carried out operations in Islamic nations such Indonesia, Pakistan, Iraq, Algeria and Saudi Arabia.

    "...the al-Qaeda threat was more dispersed than in recent years, which partially offset the losses suffered by al-Qaeda's core"

    Country Reports on Terrorism

    "The number of conservative clerics and former militants speaking out against the organisation increased," it said.

    "Yet despite these setbacks, the al-Qaeda threat was more dispersed than in recent years, which partially offset the losses suffered by al-Qaeda's core."

    The report asserted that attempted attacks such as the failed Christmas Day bombing of a US aircraft bound for the city of Detroit showed that al-Qaeda was still planning and capable of committing strikes against the US.

    That attack was said to have been launched by the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula (AQAP), highlighting the emergence of such affiliates.

    Controlling territory

    In Somalia, groups linked and declaring allegiance to al-Qaeda were said to have "controlled significant tracts of territory" in what the report called a "highly unstable, and a permissive environment for terrorist transit and training".

    Additionally nations such as Mauritania had suffered strikes from the network ally al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Foreign nationals were kidnapped by the group last year, at times with the help of tribesman and nomads.

    The report also raised fears of members of al-Qaeda radicalising people in the US.

    There have been arrests of five US citizens in Pakistan, charged with aiding al-Qaeda, while others are accused of joining al-Shaabab in Somalia.

    Al-Qaeda had provided training and funding to a resurgent Taliban, which is fighting US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, although attacks in Iraq in 2009 saw a sharp reduction from the previous year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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