CIA sees Al Qaeda in Yemen as serious threat to USA

CIA sees Al Qaeda in Yemen as serious threat to USA
# 25 August 2010 16:13 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA analysts see one of al-Qaeda’s offshoots - rather than the core group now based in Pakistan - as the most urgent threat to U.S. security, CIA sources told The Washington Post, APA reports. The sober new assessment of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has helped prompt senior Obama administration officials to call for an escalation of U.S. operations there - including a proposal to add armed CIA drones to a clandestine campaign of U.S. military strikes, the officials said. "We are looking to draw on all of the capabilities at our disposal," said a senior Obama administration official, who described plans for "a ramp-up over a period of months." The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, stressed that that analysts continue to see al-Qaeda and its allies in the tribal areas of Pakistan as supremely dangerous adversaries. The officials insisted there would be no letup in their pursuit of Osama bin Laden and other senior figures thought to be hiding in Pakistan. "We see al-Qaeda as having suffered major losses, unable to replenish ranks and recover at a pace that would keep them on offense," said a senior U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s assessments. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as its Yemen-based group is called, is "on the upswing," the official said. "The relative concern ratios are changing. We’re more concerned now about AQAP than we were before." U.S. officials said the administration’s plans to escalate operations in Yemen reflect two aims: improving U.S. intelligence in Yemen and adding new options for carrying out strikes when a target is found. The CIA has roughly 10 times more people and resources in Pakistan than it does in Yemen. There is no plan to scale back in Pakistan, but officials said the gap is expected to shrink. Details of the plans to expand operations in Yemen have been discussed in recent weeks among deputies on the National Security Council at the White House, officials said. According to one participant, the talks are not about whether the CIA should replace the U.S. military in its leading operational role in Yemen, but "what’s the proper mix." Although the CIA has expanded the number of case officers collecting intelligence in Yemen over the past year, officials said the agency has not deployed Predator drones or other means of carrying out lethal strikes.
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THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED