Russian Official Says al-Qaida Network Regrouping

AP Wire Service

MOSCOW (AP) – The al-Qaida terrorist network has suffered serious losses, but appears to be regrouping, a Russian official said Thursday.

”Someone has apparently poured mighty resources into al-Qaida, allowing it to regain the cadres, improve intelligence,” Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Safonov was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass news agency.

”It has not been shattered,” Safonov said, according to Interfax news agency.

The Russian news agencies that interviewed Safonov did not link his comments to any particular event.

Earlier this month, Arab TV aired a new audiotape of bin Laden. It provided the first definitive evidence in almost a year that he survived the U.S.-led war on his home of Afghanistan in the months after Sept. 11, 2001.

Russia has been a strong supporter of the U.S. war on terrorism, but Russian President Vladimir Putin raised questions about the success of the campaign during a brief meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in St. Petersburg last week.

Putin urged Bush not to forget ”about those how finance terrorism,” noting 15 of the Sept. 11 terrorists were Saudi citizens.

Putin also cited reports that bin Laden is hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, wondering aloud whether Pakistan President Musharraf Pervez has done enough to stabilize the area.