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Al Qaeda committed to acquiring WMDs: US

A US Congressman described Pak as one of the most dangerous places on planet.



Washington: Pakistan-based al Qaeda`s senior leadership remained committed to acquiring weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons, a top Obama administration official said.

In his testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Michael Leiter, director of National Counter-terrorism Centre said, "We assess that al Qaeda`s senior leadership in Pakistan remains committed to obtaining all types of weapons of mass destruction."

"But thanks to some outstanding and effective offensive action against al Qaida senior leadership in Pakistan, we also assess that their ability to do so is greatly diminished since 9/11," Leiter said in response to a question from Congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the Committee.

"So you would rate their intention as high to try to secure that?" Rogers asked. "Yes" answered Leiter.

"I think the intent remains high, in particular in Pakistan and in Yemen," Leiter said.

Expressing concern over the current situation in Pakistan, Congressman Ben Chandler said, "Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places on the planet.”

"You have got a state in Pakistan which has enormous volatility and nuclear weapons. What can you tell us about the security of the nuclear weapons under the control of the state of Pakistan? Are we in decent shape there? And what needs to be done to make sure that those weapons are secure?" he said.

"I think what I can say in public is that our assessment is that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are secure. And that`s probably all we should say about that in public," said James Clapper, director of National Intelligence.

CIA director Leon Panetta said his greatest concern was to avoid another 9/11.

"The reality is that our biggest concern about al Qaeda was that they could conduct 9/11-type attacks in this country. We have focused on that. I think as a result of the work that`s been done at going directly at them in the FATA, I think we`ve seriously undermined their ability to be able to conduct those kinds of attacks," Panetta said.

"Having said that, they are now resorting to other ways to come at this country. And those ways are through trying to inspire sleepers, to try to go after lone wolves, to use the Inspire magazine, to use Awlaki, who`s basically been urging people to do whatever they can to do something in a terrorist way, someplace, somehow, somewhere," he said.

That`s the nature of the kind of threats that US was now dealing with, which concerns the entire country. "And it is in that arena where we`ve got the toughest job, because while these are less sophisticated, they`re tougher to find," he added.

PTI

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