The commander disclosed the “state of the threat,” that sustained attacks “have prevented al Qaeda’s use of the country as a platform for terrorism.”
“Operations have restricted their permanent presence to isolated areas of northeastern Afghanistan and have resulted in only a seasonal presence in other parts of the country,” the general stated. “These efforts have forced al Qaeda to focus on survival rather than on operations against the West.”
Military strikes and special operations commandos have eliminated fighters and facilitators and prevented attacks on the United States like those of Sept. 11, 2001, he said.
Gen. Dunford warned, however, that the battle against the Islamist terrorist group is not over.
“Continued operations are necessary to prevent al Qaeda from regenerating degraded capabilities,” he said, adding that the extremist network in Afghanistan has become “more complex” over the past 10 years.
“Where at one time al Qaeda could be isolated — as we intended to do in 2001 — extremist networks have now expanded in the country,” he said. “Increased cooperation and coordination can be seen between al Qaeda and other extremists like the Haqqani Network, Tahrik-e Taliban Pakistan, and Lashkar-e-Taiba.”
The Haqqani Network is “the most virulent strain of the insurgency, the greatest risk to coalition forces, and a critical enabler of al Qaeda,” he said, noting that the group shares the Taliban goal of expelling foreign fighters from the country.
Taliban insurgents continue to threaten Afghanistan and remain potent enemies, Gen. Dunford said.
N. KOREA BUSTS SANCTIONS
The communist regime in North Korea is continuing to evade international sanctions on its nuclear and missile programs, according to a U.N. report made public Tuesday.
“There have been no signs that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea intends to respond to the Security Council’s calls to abandon its nuclear, ballistic missile and other weapons of mass destruction programs,” the report by a U.N. panel said. “On the contrary, it is persisting with its arms trade and other prohibited activities in defiance of Security Council resolutions, while activities related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs continue.”
The assessment is unwelcome news for the Obama administration as it indicates that policies designed to block the flow of nuclear and missile goods and technologies around the world (one of the administration’s stated priorities) are not working.
A State Department official said the U.N. report highlights North Korea’s efforts to violate sanctions.
“We intend to review the [panel of experts’] findings carefully and pursue appropriate action to implement its recommendations,” the official said.
According to the U.N. panel members, the Pyongyang regime has developed “multiple and tiered circumvention techniques” for acquiring goods for its nuclear and missile programs. North Korea’s covert arms network includes front companies and agents in China, Iran, Cuba, Myanmar, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mongolia and Turkey.