Terrorists based in FATA pose threat to US: Muller

FBI director rated al Qaeda in Af-Pak and Arabian Peninsula as top 2 threats.

Updated: Mar 17, 2011, 11:33 AM IST

Washington: Al Qaeda leaders based in the tribal border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan and those in the Arabian Peninsula pose grave threat to the US, a top American intelligence official has said.

Al Qaeda in Af-Pak and Arabian Peninsula are the top two most urgent terrorist threats being faced by Americans today, FBI director Robert Mueller said at a Congressional hearing.

"I would say the top two are probably threats out of FATA, out of Pakistan/Afghanistan border area from al Qaeda. Shahzad, the Time Square bomber, and there have been a number of other individuals coming out of training in that particular area that have posed a threat and continue to pose a threat," Mueller said in response to a question.

"Secondly, almost equally, the threat from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula where you`ve seen the Christmas Day bombing of a year-plus ago, the attempt to come into Detroit and blow up the plane as well as the two printers that were picked up in Dubai and in the UK recently who were on their way to the United States who, had they not been intercepted, would have blown up those planes," he said.

In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller said during the past year, the FBI has faced an extraordinary range of national security and criminal threats.

There were last October`s attempted bombings on air cargo flights bound for the United States from Yemen, directed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

"There was last May`s attempted car bombing in Times Square, aided by Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan (TTP). These two attempted attacks demonstrate how al Qaeda`s affiliates and allies have the intent to strike inside the US," he said.

"We have also seen a number of terrorist plots by lone offenders, involving such possible targets as the home of former president George W Bush; a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland; and subway stations in the Washington, DC, Metro system," he said.

"The espionage threat persisted as well last summer; there was the arrest of 10 Russian spies known as illegals who secretly blended into American society in order to clandestinely gather information for Russia. And we continue
to make significant arrests for economic espionage as foreign interests seek to steal controlled technologies," he said.

"Cyberintrusion at Google last year highlighted the potential danger from a sophisticated Internet attack, along with the countless other cyber incidents attacks threatened to undermine the integrity of the Internet and to victimise the businesses and people who rely on it," Mueller said.

PTI