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Terror crackdown has not reduced al-Qaida threat, warns thinktank

Al-Qaida remains a “potent” international terrorist network with more than 18,000 trained members at large in up to 90 countries, and could take a generation to dismantle, a leading international affairs thinktank warned yesterday. The warning came in the annual strategic survey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies whose author, Jonathan Stevenson, said the Riyadh bombings “bore the hallmarks” of an al-Qaida operation. The bombings “may be the first indication that the regime change in Iraq in the short term is going to cause a terrorist backlash and be an inspiration for terrorists”, he added. Although the audacity and sheer power of the American-led invasion could have a “suppressive effect” on terrorists, it was equally likely that the conflict “increased al-Qaida’s recruiting power”, he said. The report warns that al-Qaida has reconstituted itself since the war in Afghanistan and was now “doing business in a somewhat different manner, but more insidious and just as dangerous as in its pre-September 11 incarnation”. It describes al-Qaida as a “potent transnational terrorist organisation that could take a generation to dismantle”. With improved European and American defences, al-Qaida could “content itself with softer high-value targets”. Full Story

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