CIA Claims “al-Qaeda” No Longer A Threat, But There Is Ongoing Spook Build-Up In Places Like Iraq

[SEE: CIA ramps up role in Iraq ]

U.S. Intelligence Chief Says Al-Qaeda No Longer Poses Major Threat

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U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in February

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in February

The United States national intelligence director, James Clapper, has testified to Congress that Al-Qaeda no longer posed a major threat.

Clapper said in an annual assessment presented to lawmakers that the core of Al-Qaeda had been severely weakened and the terrorist group was unlikely to carry out “complex, large-scale attacks in the West.”

Addressing the Senate Intelligence Committee, Clapper said that despite being weakened, Al-Qaeda had not abandoned its war against the United States, and its affiliates, particularly in Yemen, are plotting to attack the U.S. and its allies.

Clapper said cyberattacks and cyberespionage had replaced terrorism as the top threats to the United States.

Clapper’s 34-page paper ran through a wide variety of threats covered by U.S. intelligence agencies, including North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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Fatah al-Islam Causing More Trouble In Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugee Camps

[Two of the wounded are named as Khaled Ahmed al-Masri and Fatah al-Islam official Bilal Bader.  Could the dead al-Masri be the same Lebanese man, a German expatriate, who was wrongly arrested for being an al-Qaeda 911 suspect and held in an Afghan dungeon for 5 months, where he was tortured and raped?   Bilal Bader was reported to be building a al-Nusra anti-Syrian coalition in the Palestinian camp (SEE:Al-Nusra Front: Seeking a Lebanese Base in Ain al-Hilweh — February 4, 2013).  Looks like the Saudis and Hariri were making another Fatah al-Islam gambit in Lebanon.  May this one get as far as the previous US incursions.]

    Ain el-Hilweh Tense after Fatah al-Islam Official Shot and Wounded

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naharnet

W460

Gunmen went on alert Monday in the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon, after a member of the extremist Fatah al-Islam group was shot and wounded.

The incident also left a Palestinian passerby identified as Khaled Ahmed al-Masri dead and three other people wounded, state-run National News Agency reported.

Fatah al-Islam official Bilal Bader, his brother Kamal, a child named Omar Akroum and an unidentified woman were wounded when an unknown assailant opened fire on them,” NNA reported earlier on Monday.

“The Palestinian Follow-Up Committee is conducting a series of contacts in a bid to resolve the situation and restore calm,” NNA said.

By long-standing convention, the Lebanese army does not enter the country’s 12 refugee camps, leaving security inside to the Palestinians themselves.

Ain el-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian camp in the country, is home to about 50,000 refugees who live in dire conditions and is known to harbor extremists and fugitives.