Intelligence Chief Says Al-Qaida In Iraq Establishing Cells In Other Countries

CAPITOL HILL (AP) — The director of national intelligence says he’s concerned that al-Qaida in Iraq is shifting its focus outside of Iraq.

Testifying before a Senate panel, Mike McConnell says al Qaida remains the top threat to U.S. despite recent setbacks in Iraq as well as in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

McConnell says al-Qaida continues to find a “safe haven” in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Those areas are smaller and less secure than the bases al-Qaida once found in Afghanistan, but he says the group is able to train for strikes in Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa and the U.S. from those locations.

McConnell also told the panel that the Taliban, once thought to be routed from Afghanistan, has expanded its operations into previously peaceful areas in the western part of the country and around the capital of Kabul. That despite the death or capture of three top commanders in the last year.