SOTU: Al Qaeda, Taliban Are Regrouping In South Asia, Increasing The Terrorist Threat

Bush said: “Thanks to the courage of these military and civilian personnel, a nation that was once a safe haven for al Qaida is now a young democracy where boys and girls are going to school, new roads and hospitals are being built, and people are looking to the future with new hope.”

FACT — AL QAEDA POSING ‘FRESH THREATS’ IN PAKISTAN: In Pakistan, a “regenerating al-Qaida is posing fresh threats.” “There is growing recognition that the United States risks further setbacks, if not deepening conflict or even defeat, in Afghanistan, and that success in that country hinges on stopping Pakistan from descending into disorder.” [AP, 1/28/08]

FACT — TALIBAN CONTROLS OVER HALF OF AFGHANISTAN: The conflict in Afghanistan has reached “crisis proportions,” as the Taliban controls 54 percent of the country as of November. “[S]enior White House officials privately express pessimism about Afghanistan.” [Reuters, 11/21/07; Washington Post, 11/25/07]

FACT — COMMANDERS SAY AFGHANISTAN BECOMING MORE UNSTABLE: Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said last month that “total violence was up 27 percent” in Afghanistan. Retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, noted that the enemy “is unquestionably a much stronger force than the enemy we faced in 2004,” and the “number of roadside bombs in Afghanistan climbed from 325 in 2004 to 1,469 last year.” [Reuters, 1/23/08]