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Report: Al-Qaida strategy mired in dispute

WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- Arguments within the Bush administration and the CIA have hampered efforts to counter an al-Qaida build-up in Pakistan, The New York Times reported Monday.

The newspaper, after conducting more than four dozen interviews in Washington and Pakistan, said it found no coherent policy to address fears that al-Qaida has regrouped its operations in the tribal regions of Pakistan's northwest. Government and CIA officials said internal battles over how to attack the militants and to deal with a new Pakistani government has frozen efforts to launch strikes against al-Qaida camps in the South Waziristan region.

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The Times reported a draft plan authored by U.S. Defense Department strategists meant to overcome disagreements between CIA field operatives and the agency's Washington headquarters, as well as turf battles within the Bush administration, has never been implemented.

Under the plan, U.S. Special Forces commandos would have been given the green light to participate in raids against al-Qaida operations in Pakistan, which one unnamed military official said have increased from a few hundred men to as many as 2,000 foreign militants, the newspaper said.

Unnamed current and former military officials also told the Times that the fighting in Iraq has diverted resources and attention from the area.

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