Al Qaeda eyes Afghanistan comeback

Al Qaeda’s leader in Afghanistan is plotting a comeback once U.S. and NATO troops leave the country, The Associated Press reports.

Farouq al-Qahtani al-Qatari has been laying the groundwork to relaunch al Qaeda in Afghanistan, bringing in small numbers of experienced militants to train another generation of fighters, U.S. officials said.

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In response, the U.S. has stepped up drone and jet missile attacks in the eastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan in an attempt to keep the leader from recreating large training camps, according to the AP.

As the United States threatens to pull all of its troops at the end of 2014 without a security agreement in place, there is concern that the Taliban will gain power and give terror groups a safe haven in Afghanistan to plot attacks.

President Obama this week ordered the military to begin planning for the "zero option" of removing all troops, though the administration still wants to get the security agreement signed and keep up to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014 for training and counterterrorism operations.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told the AP that the number of al Qaeda members in Afghanistan has not yet increased much more than the couple hundred the U.S. has identified.

"I think most are waiting for the U.S. to fully pull out by 2014," he said.