Al Qaeda training 'Western-looking' fighters: CIA|
By Washington correspondent: Kim Landers
Posted: March 31, 2008 11:35:00
CIA head Michael Hayden says Al Qaeda is training fighters who
have a 'Western' appearance and would be more likely to be able to penetrate US
borders to mount terrorist attacks.
In a rare public interview, General Hayden said the new recruits were being
trained on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which he said was a safe haven that
presented a "clear and present danger'' to the West.
But he would not comment on media reports that the United States is
escalating unilateral strikes against Al Qaeda members operating in Pakistan's
"What I can tell you about is the situation along the Afghanistan-Pakistan
border, which presents a clear and present danger to Afghanistan, to Pakistan
and to the West in general - and to the United States in particular," General
"They are bringing operatives into that region for training, operatives that
wouldn't attract your attention if they were going through the customs line at
Dallas with you when you're coming back from overseas.
"They look Western, [people] who will be able to come into this country
without attracting the kind of attention that others might."
Concern about the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region is not isolated to the
Australia's recently reappointed Australian Defence Force (ADF) Chief, Angus
Houston, is calling for more diplomatic pressure to convince Pakistan to crack
down on insurgents flowing into Afghanistan.
In an interview with the Fairfax newspaper group, Air Chief Marshal Houston
says Australia must help engage Pakistan in practical and diplomatic ways to
ensure that the Taliban is denied the freedom to move across the border into
On the Iraq conflict, General Hayden admitted he was kept in the dark about
the Iraqi Government's plan to crack down on Shiite militiamen in the oil-rich
southern city of Basra.
"It's a very decisive moment, it's a very challenging thing. I guess one
would say that success is not guaranteed," General Hayden said.
And he conceded it could take years for the Iraqi forces to be able to
function without the help of the Americans.
As for neighbouring Iran, General Hayden still believes that country is
pursuing a nuclear weapons program, even though a recent intelligence report
found that it had been suspended in 2003.
"Personally, yes. It's hard for me to explain - and this is not court of law
stuff, this is in terms of beyond all reasonable doubt," he said.
Iran still insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
Original article: ABC
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