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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Bush denies al-Qaeda has renewed
US Marine in southern Afghanistan (file photo)
Al-Qaeda 'has regained its strength' despite prolonged military action
US President George W Bush has denied that al-Qaeda is as strong as it was at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

He played down media coverage of a US intelligence report called Al-Qaeda Better Positioned to Strike the West.

Intelligence analysts told Congress on Wednesday that al-Qaeda had created a safe haven in remote parts of Pakistan.

But Mr Bush said it was "simply not the case" that al-Qaeda had successfully rebuilt itself despite a massive six-year campaign to dismantle it.

Speaking at a news conference, President Bush said: "There is a perception in the coverage that al-Qaeda may be as strong today as they were prior to September 11.

"That's just simply not the case."

The classified report was from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and was being discussed at the White House on Thursday.

Of particular concern to the NCTC, reports BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, is the possibility of a major al-Qaeda attack on America being carried out by Europe-based jihadists, particularly Britons, who are able to enter both Pakistan and the US with equal ease.

Al-Qaeda is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," an official told the AP news agency paraphrasing the report.

"They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."

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