NATO denies al Qaeda reviving in Afghanistan

The NATO-led force in Afghanistan on Thursday denied a report that al Qaeda was staging a comeback in Afghanistan, saying the militants remained under pressure in the country`s east.

Updated: Apr 08, 2011, 00:22 AM IST

Kabul: The NATO-led force in Afghanistan
on Thursday denied a report that al Qaeda was staging a comeback in
Afghanistan, saying the militants remained under pressure in
the country`s east.

Al Qaeda`s "actions do not equate to a return in
force, and it is thus a stretch to equate it to a large
comeback," Lieutenant Colonel John Dorrian, spokesman for the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said in a
statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Arab
fighters for al Qaeda had moved back into eastern provinces
along the Pakistani border to take advantage of a gradual
withdrawal of US forces from the area.

An air strike by US fighter jets in September against
an al Qaeda training camp in the east illustrated the
extremist network`s resurgence, wrote the Journal, citing
unnamed US, Afghan and Taliban sources.

"It is an overstatement to say that al Qaeda has taken
hold in Afghanistan," Dorrian said.

"Certainly, as they have in the past, AQ (al Qaeda)
continues to look for options to set up camps in which to
train and base. However, AQ is also aware that ISAF closely
monitors the region and is constantly looking for such camps,"
he said.

The coalition force over the past six months had
killed al Qaeda`s number three leader in Afghanistan and
killed or captured other key figures in the east, he added.

US and NATO officials have previously portrayed
al Qaeda as mostly a spent force in Afghanistan with only a
couple dozen fighters on the ground at most.

PTI