WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. officials say al-Qaida is seen as a greater threat than the Afghan Taliban in the emerging war strategy formulations of President Barack Obama.
"Clearly, al-Qaida is a threat not only to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad, but it has a murderous agenda," a senior administration official told The New York Times Wednesday. "We want to destroy its leadership, its infrastructure and its capability."
After the president met with top advisers Wednesday for three hours, officials said the new strategy may focus more on a campaign against al-Qaida in Pakistan than on the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Officials told the Times the Taliban are an indigenous group and do not pose a direct threat to the United States, and that many of the militants are motivated more by local problems than by jihadist sentiments. The officials said the Taliban are deeply rooted in Afghanistan and cannot be entirely removed.
While the president has yet to decide on sending additional troops to Afghanistan, the strategy of going after al-Qaida may provide an option for not granting all of the extra troops sought by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan.
Some analysts, however, warn the Taliban and al-Qaida have come closer since the former's regime was ousted eight years ago.
"You have much more ideological elements in the Taliban. In the east, they're really mixed in with al-Qaida," said Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has advised McChrystal.