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US Congressional Investigators Say al-Qaida Still Active - 2002-06-16

Members of the congressional committees investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks say they believe al-Qaida cells remain active around the world despite the military operation in Afghanistan. And some lawmakers are raising concerns about the role Saudi Arabia is playing in combating the terrorist threat.

The top republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee says al-Qaida remains strong. During an appearance on CNN's Late Edition program, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said the threat has not diminished. He says thousands of al-Qaida operatives remain around the world.

"Some of them are not necessarily on the run. They are in the planning stage, operating on their own. They have been well trained. I not sure they are operating from a central command post now, but they are waiting to do more attacks, and they will," he said.

California Democrat Jane Harman, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Late Edition al-Qaida may have lost some of its leaders, but not its will.

"We have taken out some of their top leadership; we know that. Some people are dead. But Osama bin Laden may well be alive. And in addition to that, the second layer of leaders is very effective. Their "trade craft", as we call it, their ability to recruit and train and deploy in successful operations some junior players is very, very effective.

She said more international co-operation is needed to meet this threat. During an earlier interview on the Fox News Sunday television program, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle pointed to one country in particular. The South Dakota Democrat said Saudi Arabia is not doing enough.

"They could be a lot more overt in their support and their willingness to work with us," he said. "They could help us a lot more in the sub-surface efforts that are underway. We are not getting that kind of help, and I am disappointed."

Mr. Daschle made specific mention of information sharing and efforts to cut off financial support for terrorist groups. The White House has said on numerous occasions that it is satisfied with Saudi Arabia's contributions to the anti-terror campaign.