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US General Doubts Terrorist Video was Taped in Afghanistan - 2004-06-17

A senior U.S. military commander says he doubts the accuracy of a videotape broadcast by the Arabic-language TV network al-Jazeera purporting to show terrorist training still taking place in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant General David Barno is commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He tells reporters at the Pentagon he is skeptical that a videotape of alleged al-Qaida training broadcast by al-Jazeera was made in a remote, mountainous area of Afghanistan.

"I take those reports with a great deal of skepticism and I think from my perspective it is fairly unlikely that that tape was made in Afghanistan," he said.

Responding to questions in a satellite link-up between the Pentagon and his headquarters in Kabul, General Barno says there is a significant U.S. military presence in the rugged border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He also notes that on the Pakistani side of the frontier, government forces are currently engaged in a renewed assault on suspected al-Qaida linked militants.

All-in-all, General Barno believes any al-Qaida or Taleban remnants in the area are on the defensive.

"Between operations here in Afghanistan which have been very aggressive in the last three months with Operation Mountain Storm and the current Pakistani operations, which are the most robust that they have ever executed with large number of forces, over 10,000 members of the Pakistani military, working now over a number of targets throughout South Waziristan, I think al-Qaida and its network is under tremendous pressure here," he said.

General Barno says al-Qaida and its allies are no longer able to mount attacks on coalition or Afghan forces. Instead, he says they are launching what he terms "cowardly" attacks on civilians and aid workers in an attempt to intimidate the Afghan people. He maintains this terrorist effort is failing as momentum builds for Afghanistan's coming elections.