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Tenet Testifies Al-Qaida Still a Threat

Tenet testified before a Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, ”We assess that al-Qaida and other terrorist groups will continue to plan to attack this country and its interest abroad.”

Despite a widespread effort to eliminate the network, “al-Qaida leaders at large are working to reconstitute the organization and to resume its terrorist operations,” according to Tenet.

U.S. intelligence indicates an increase in communication between al-Qaida fighters in northwestern Pakistan, raising fears the leaders are regrouping and organizing another attack against America.

More than 1,300 people with alleged links to al-Qaida have been arrested in over 70 countries since September 11. It remains unclear just how many have been released, because many extremists have been detained in foreign custody. Other suspects are being held in U.S. jails, in Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.

Tenet also said U.S. intelligence agencies have not eliminated the possibility of links between the September 11 hijackers and state sponsorship.

“There is no doubt that there have been (Iraqi) contacts and linkages to the al-Qaida organization,” Tenet told the committee. “As to where we are on September 11, the jury is out. It would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of state sponsorship whether Iranian or Iraqi. We’ll see where the evidence takes us.”

Tenet added that he believed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has continued to develop nuclear weapons, despite UN sanctions and inspections.

His testimony came as Vice President Dick Cheney wrapped up his tour of Europe and the Mideast, where he sought to gauge support for possible military action against Iraq. Some U.S. officials have advocated greater force to oust Hussein from power.

“Nobody has made any decisions to do anything,” Tenet reiterated.

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