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Al-Qaeda militants moving to Pak from Iraq

A top US military officer has said that the al-Qaeda militants are moving to safe haven in tribal areas of Pakistan, posing threat not only to coalition forces in Afghanistan but to Islamabad.

world Updated: Aug 28, 2008 10:23 IST

A top US military officer has said that the al-Qaeda militants in Iraq are moving to safe haven in tribal areas of Pakistan, posing threat not only to coalition forces in Afghanistan but to Islamabad.

In a press meeting, the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen James Conway said the coalition forces will not be able to solve the problems in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and it was essentially up to the government in Islamabad to come to the terms with what is happening on their sovereign soil.

"We do see more foreign fighters now, though, I think, coming to Pakistan and operating in Afghanistan than we're seeing in Iraq.... No intelligence agency would say this, but it may be that there's been a refocus. I think the al-Qaeda knows that they have blown a movement in Iraq through a number of missteps over time..." General Conway said.

"... The influence and the presence and the numbers of al-Qaeda in Iraq are very much diminished and they had to go somewhere, and my guess is, my belief is that they probably have gone to that safe haven in the FATA," he said making the point that there are people in the area who pose danger not only to the coalition forces but also to Pakistan.

"That's long been an ungoverned area. I think we're all concerned that if it's not managed -- and it must be managed by the Pakistanis, it's on their side of the border -- if it's not managed, that you could see attacks against other parts of Pakistan and certainly attacks into Afghanistan.

"So, I think it is a real threat," he added.

"Pakistan is a hard nut to crack and it's probably not one that we, coalition forces, are going to be able to solve. It's going to require involvement on the part of the Pakistanis to settle the problem that's taking place on their sovereign soil," Gen Conway added.