Fusion of militants brings new threats

Fusion of militants brings new threats

At the same time, they warn, in seeming contradiction: An even greater number of well-trained terrorists are setting their sights on the United States.

Across the remote tribal lands between Afghanistan and Pakistan where terror groups hide, US officials say they’ve seen a fusion of al-Qaeda and others targeted by US forces, including the Haqqani group and the Pakistani Taliban, who formerly focused only on their local areas.

Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the groups have become a “synergy of terrorist groups” with “an expanding desire to kill Americans.” National Counterterrorism Centre director Michael Leiter too warned that the “troubling alignment” extends all the way to Yemen and Africa. The dispersed network is making terror plots harder to spot and prevent, he said.

The officials are speaking publicly in an effort to convince the American public — and US ally Pakistan — that the time to hit harder is now, while al-Qaeda is weakened. Failure to do that means an even stronger enemy, they argue.

A high-level US counterterrorist delegation is headed to Pakistan to try to persuade Pakistan to keep the pressure on the militant groups that now operate almost as one with al-Qaeda. The government has denied news reports that it has reached out to its former ally, the Haqqani tribe, to secure its participation in talks with Afghanistan.

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