Obama Overstates Domestic Al-Qaeda Threat: Experts
President, Clinton cite US arrests, but link to Pakistan appears weak
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2009 3:25 PM CST
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the media at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Dec. 4, 2009.   (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

(Newser) – The White House has been overstating the link between recent domestic terrorism arrests and al-Qaeda activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, security experts say. In justifying the Afghanistan troop buildup, President Obama cited recent arrests within the US; Hillary Clinton cited some of the same incidents a few days later. But the connection between al-Qaeda’s nerve center in Pakistan and those arrests is much more nebulous than they’re implying, counterterrorism officials tell the Washington Independent.

Senior officials have testified that al-Qaeda is under pressure in Pakistan and now works more to inspire or fund terrorist attacks than to plan them. “The tendency to lump all threats in to one big bin … hurts the policy and strategy decision process,” said one official. If anything, the recent arrests show that the US has become better equipped to intercept domestic threats, particularly if the individuals involved have al-Qaeda ties, making the group less of a threat.