Washington, Sept 16(ANI): Pakistan's border region remains the most dangerous place in the world and its Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) remains the epicentre of the "world's worst of global jihad", the US Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Michael G. Vickers, has said.
"The Pakistan border region remains, as both President [Barack] Obama and a Pakistani author recently put it, 'the most dangerous place in the world.'" Vickers said at the National Defense University.
He likened the FATA as epicentre of the "world's worst of global jihad" to the scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope of a rundown cantina on the planet Tatooine frequented by the worst scoundrels in the universe, said a Pentagon press release.
"The continued presence of groups such as the [Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan], the Haqqani network and the Commander Nazir group, who provide al-Qaida with safe haven and make common cause with it, ensures that the FATA will almost certainly remain a principal area of U.S. counterterrorism focus well after core al-Qaida is dismantled," Vickers said.
He noted that Al-Qaida has established relationships with groups that provide it safe haven and the possibility to conduct joint operations, including the TTP and the Haqqani network in the FATA.
"Assuming sustained [counterterrorism] operations against the group, within 18 to 24 months core al-Qaida cohesion and operational capabilities could be degraded to the point that the group could fragment and exist mostly as a propaganda arm," the undersecretary added, reducing the threat to the American homeland and moving closer to al-Qaida's total defeat.
The national counterterrorism strategy focuses on al-Qaida, its affiliates and its adherents, Vickers said.
"It is not a war on terror but rather a war with al-Qaida. Our goal, as President Obama has stated, is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and prevent the group's return," the undersecretary said.
"We seek nothing less than the utter destruction of this evil that calls itself al-Qaida," he added.
Vickers said that the strategy's top priorities are to protect the American homeland and eliminate al-Qaida and its safe havens in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, where "we've shown al-Qaida that it will enjoy no safe haven and [we] have decimated its leadership ranks." (ANI)
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