Daily Dispatches

Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is attempting a comeback

"Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is attempting a comeback" Continued...

"Al-Qaeda is very active. It is like fish. When one fish dies, another comes," he said in a recent interview. "The determination of these Arab fighters is high."

In interviews in Kabul and Washington, U.S. officials said they are satisfied that al-Qaeda is so small inside Afghanistan—they put the number at between 50 and 100 fighters—that they can be contained indefinitely if the Afghan government allows U.S. counterterrorism forces to monitor and hunt the remnants. U.S. and Afghan officials are working to craft talks on a bilateral security agreement that could include such an arrangement.

Al-Qaeda's numbers, however, don't tell the whole story.

Allen has said al-Qaeda has learned to leverage its presence in Afghanistan to give the impression of having withstood U.S. military might and to burnish its image as a global force.

U.S. commanders say they will keep up pressure on al-Qaeda to frustrate its goals, but few believe al-Qaeda will be gone before U.S. troops leave.

"I see no evidence to suggest that it will be eliminated by 2014," said Jones, the RAND analyst.

© 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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