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Al Qaeda is recruiting Arabs from Morocco, Libya and other North African countries, as well as Muslims from former Soviet republics. Al Qaeda uses Afghanistan as a proving ground for these fighters. If they show their loyalty, they are redirected to attack the U.S.

“They bring operatives over in Afghanistan in order for them to get their creds, if you will,” the officer told Gen. Colt. “And they will move them back to wherever they came from to continue getting after the U.S. homeland.”

Other briefing disclosures:

NATO releases more than half of its detainees. The freed are those found not to be hard-core members of Taliban, al Qaeda or Haqqani.

“They may be bad actors, they may be criminals, but, again, they are not part of the network, they are not in such a position to lead us further up in the food chain,” Gen. Colt was told.

• The Defense Intelligence Agency is conducting sophisticated tests of detainees’ clothes and bodies to detect explosives. Positive test results are used to crack the captives’ stories that they are not members of an insurgent group.

• Insurgents are turning more to men dressed as women to carry out attacks. NATO mixed-sex cultural support teams (CSTs) are used to determine the men from the women.

“We have had about eight military-age males dressed up as females on targets over the last couple of months, and CSTs have helped us out in identifying that these [women] are actually males,” a briefer said.