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Petraeus: Afghanistan not Al Qaida base

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Petraeus: Afghanistan not Al Qaida base
Defense Undersecretary for Policy Michele Flournoy and Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command, testify before the House Armed Services Committee regarding U.S. President Barack Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 2, 2009. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- The terrorist group that carried out the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is not based in Afghanistan, said U.S. CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus.

Rather, al Qaida is "a syndicate of extremist organizations" with sanctuaries in the country, Petraeus said Sunday in an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" program.

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"They do come in and out of Afghanistan. But al Qaida -- precise al Qaida, if you will -- is not based per se in Afghanistan. Although its elements and certainly its affiliates ... certainly do have enclaves and sanctuaries in certain parts of Eastern Afghanistan," he added.

Petraeus, who heads U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, said the Afghani element of al Qaida has a presence in some parts of Pakistan.

"The federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan -- that very, very mountainous, rugged terrain -- just east of the Afghan border and in the western part of Pakistan is the locus of the leadership of these organizations although they do, again, go into Afghanistan and conduct operations against our troops," he said.

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