Pak-Afghan tribal belt single greatest threat to US national security: CIA

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Washington, Oct 1 : CIA Director Michael Hayden has said the threat from al Qaeda is real and the group's growing strength along the tribal areas along the Pakistan- Afghan border could be the single greatest threat to US national security

"Al Qaeda represents the most clear, most present danger, to the United States, certainly," he said.

"What's changed -- dramatically changed -- since 9/11, is, we're not just playing in our own goal. We're moving the ball down the field, on our own. We're taking the fight to the enemy," FOX News quoted Hayden, as saying.

Hayden said that the US intelligence community is keeping a close eye on Afghanistan's border with Pakistan.

"All of the threats about which we are aware have threads that take them back into that Afghan/Pakistan border region, either in terms of command and control, or training, and direction," he said.

Hayden made the case that a strong offense is the only defense in the war against al Qaeda.

"And that's why there ... hasn't been an attack for over seven years. Again, the dynamic of our taking the fight to the enemy: making him worry about his own defense, putting him off-balance, sweeping up his operatives, drying up his money supply."

Hayden pointed out that US predator strikes have killed top operational commanders, Osama bin Laden still remains at large. Al Qaeda's hold is stronger now in the tribal areas of Pakistan than it was a year ago.

"It is more the safe haven now than it was one, two or three years ago. ... It represents more of a threat to Pakistan, to Afghanistan and to the rest of the world, including the United States, than it did two or three years ago," Hayden said.

Amid criticisms that US intelligence community has been unable to capture bin Laden and is slow to respond to continued terror threats, Hayden said that he believes that the US has better intelligence than before 9/11.

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