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Taliban to target key govt figures, US warns

Taliban to target key govt figures, US warns

Mar 11, 2011 - 14:12

WASHINGTON (PANinfo-icon): Talibaninfo-icon fighters would try to regain their lost ground by carrying out high-profile attacks and assassinating key government figures, a top US intelligence chief has warned.

"The Taliban will use high-profile attacks, assassination of key government figures, and efforts to extend shadow governance to undermine local perceptions of security and influence segments of the population," he said.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper told lawmakers on Thursday the insurgents retained the capability to conduct high-profile assaults that have had a disproportionate effect on local and international security perceptions.

Although most of the assaults were tactically ineffective, they garnered domestic and international media attention and served as strategic communication opportunities for the fighters, he said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Clapper added the Afghan government would likely continue to make incremental progress in governance, security, and development in 2011. But the insurgency, despite tactical defeats and operational setbacks, would threaten US goals.

While asserting that they are the legitimate authority in Afghanistaninfo-icon, militant propaganda would brand ISAFinfo-icon as an occupation force undermining Afghan culture and religion, the official continued.

In his remarks, Senator Carl Levin said Afghan forces were increasingly taking the lead in securing the areas so the people could return to building a better life.  "A major source of instability in Afghanistan is the continued presence of sanctuaries for extremist groups across the border with Pakistaninfo-icon."

Levin wanted to know whether there was a realistic prospect of Pakistanis eliminating the safe havens and end the support that they had been providing to the Haqqani networkinfo-icon and the Taliban's Quetta Shurainfo-icon Taliban.  

"Counterterrorism is central to our overseas operations, notably in Afghanistan.  While progress in our efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda is hard-won, we have seen and will continue to see success in governance, security and economic development…," Clapper concluded.



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