NATO commander: terror threat in Europe underlines need for Afghan mission

Friday, October 8, 2010

NATO: terror threat in Europe justifies Afghan war

WROCLAW, Poland — An al-Qaida-linked plot that triggered this week’s U.S. terror alert for Europe underlines the need for the war in Afghanistan, a top NATO commander argued Friday.

U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, NATO’s top commander in Europe, said terrorists using Afghanistan as a base are still trying to target Europe and that this threat justifies a war that has grown unpopular in many places.

Stavridis said the mission in Afghanistan “is occurring because of the nexus of terrorist threat that came out of Afghanistan, struck my own country, but has also been part of the threat stream to this day that is facing Europe, and is the reason that travel advisories are being issued all over this continent.”

“So I think prima facie — obviously — there is purpose in what we are doing,” Stavridis said. He spoke at a conference in the Polish city of Wroclaw devoted to trans-Atlantic issues, and his defense of the war was made in response to an audience member who sharply criticized the war, calling it absurd.

The U.S. State Department advised American citizens in Europe last weekend to take more precautions about their personal security. Japan, Australia, France and Britain have since issued similar warnings to their citizens.

The U.S. believes a cell of Germans and Britons are at the heart of a terror plot against European cities, a plan they link to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The European terror warning is based on information from a dual German-Afghan citizen captured in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials said earlier this week that a CIA drone strike killed eight German militants in North Waziristan — an al-Qaida and Taliban hub that the Pakistani army has so far left largely alone.

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