- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2007

The White House is concerned about the increased signs of a terrorist attack, saying it is a reminder that combating terrorism is an ongoing struggle.

“It’s a source of concern,” National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” “and we’re responding to it. It’s a good reminder that the struggle against terrorism is going to be with us for a long time.”

A U.S. intelligence assessment being sent to Congress this week is expected to say that al Qaeda is increasing efforts to place terrorists in the United States and has reached a strike capability for attacks within the country.

The report will point specifically to al Qaeda’s ability to flourish within the autonomous mountain region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Mr. Hadley said the administration was disappointed with the breakdown of a reported truce between Taliban leaders and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

“We have seen in the northwest territories in Pakistan Taliban pooling, planning and training,” Mr. Hadley said. “It has not worked the way [Gen. Musharraf] wanted. It has not worked the way we wanted, and one of things he is now doing is moving more troops in. We are supporting that effort in order to get control of the situation.”

Mr. Hadley said the situation emphasized the need for greater diplomacy in the area.

“We need to also, at the same time, engage in the battle of ideas: [President Bush] talking about the vision of democracy versus a vision of despair,” he said. “And we need to get the country in a position where it has the tools it needs to deal with the terrorist threat.”

An al Qaeda video released yesterday on an Islamist Web site contained an undated clip of Osama bin Laden praising martyrdom. The clip, which lasted less than a minute, was part of a video featuring purported al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press described bin Laden as “weary-looking” in the video. Analysts said the footage could be up to five years old.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said last week that he had a “gut feeling” about a terrorist threat to the United States this summer.

Although Mr. Chertoff said he had no intelligence about a specific threat, he noted an increase in public statements from al Qaeda leaders, the increase of attacks based in Europe and the group’s seeming pattern for summertime attacks.

Nonetheless, Mr. Hadley said, al Qaeda is “not the organization it was before 9/11” because of ongoing efforts in the war on terrorism.

“At this point, the operational activity we are seeing and the planning is in areas — we have taken the fight effectively to where al Qaeda is, in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and northwest Pakistan,” he told CNN’s “Late Edition.” “In the short run, we need to disrupt their operations, take the fight to them, where they live, so that we don’t have to defend here at home.”

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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