U.S. Intelligence Report to Say Al-Qaida Regroups
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
NPR's intelligence correspondent Mary Louise Kelly joins us now with more. Good morning.
MARY LOUISE KELLY: Good morning, Linda.
WERTHEIMER: So what can you tell us about what will be in this report?
LOUISE KELLY: And the headline apparently is that that core group is getting stronger, that U.S. intelligence is hearing more communication, has seen more signs of activity overall in Pakistan's tribal areas. Now, the report is not due out for another hour. Some details are beginning to leak out. The Associated Press is now reporting that the report also says al-Qaida will try to leverage, and I'll quote, "the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaida in Iraq to attack U.S. soil." So the document describes al-Qaida in Iraq as al-Qaida's most visible, most capable affiliate group elsewhere in the world.
WERTHEIMER: So it sounds like there is concern about al-Qaida in Iraq and new concern about the bin Laden group in Pakistan. How do you square that? I mean, what we've been hearing over the past couple of years was that the terror threat had shifted and the concern was more about homegrown groups or offshoot groups.
LOUISE KELLY: That document - I went back and looked at it - it describes an al-Qaida whose senior leadership has been seriously damaged, an al-Qaida that is growing more diffuse. This new document apparently points to an al-Qaida whose senior leadership is growing stronger. So it's a bit of a reversal.
WERTHEIMER: What happened?
LOUISE KELLY: So I think that has caused a little bit of a rethinking in terms of how strong is core al-Qaida, how determined are they to continue to attacking outside of that actual region around Pakistan and Afghanistan. And I think there have been some changes there. And that would be the second factor I would point to is changes on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
WERTHEIMER: That border area where Osama bin Laden and other core al-Qaida leaders are believed to be hiding. We have seen, this week, renewed instability there - bombings, suicide attacks.
LOUISE KELLY: There are a lot of questions about the status of that peace deal. You mentioned the instability and there are questions about whether that deal may be collapsing. Whatever happens with it, the concern here, as we're apparently going to hear this morning in this new intelligence report, is that al-Qaida has managed to regroup, that it is increasingly capable of fresh attacks here in the U.S. This is not the headline that anyone would have hoped to hear, here we are nearly six years into the war on terror.
WERTHEIMER: Mary Louise, thanks.
LOUISE KELLY: You're welcome.
WERTHEIMER: NPR intelligence correspondent Mary Louise Kelly.
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