Al-Qaida remains determined to mount major attacks and has extended its base of support and become more adept at communicating its message and operational plans, a UN report has said.
At the same time, Taliban rebels fighting to regain control of Afghanistan have increased their influence not only in Afghanistan but in northwestern Pakistan and have money from the drug trade to hire foot soldiers and buy sophisticated weapons, the report said yesterday.
The report by terrorism experts working for the Security Council committee monitoring UN sanctions against the Taliban and al-Qaida painted a grim picture of the "persistent and real" threat from both groups whose relationship "appears close."
Since its last report a year ago, the committee said "there may have been fewer major operations than al-Qaida leaders would have liked, but the arrest or death of suspected al-Qaida-related terrorists in more than 40 countries around the world ... Suggests a high volume of terrorist planning."
"The frequent and widespread warnings by world leaders and counter-terrorist professionals that more attacks could occur at any time, acknowledge al-Qaida's spread, its patience and its determination," the report said.
It cited an increase in al-Qaida propaganda through the Internet including Osama bin Laden's first video broadcast in nearly three years in September addressed to the American people, which was followed by two other broadcasts. One urged supporters to follow the example of the September 11, 2001 hijackers and the other appealed to Pakistanis to overthrow President Gen Pervez Musharraf.