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U.S. Says Al-Qaeda Remains 'Preeminent Terrorist Threat'

Al-Qaeda's latest leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, in a video released in July 2011.
The U.S. government says Al-Qaeda remains the "most preeminent terrorist threat" to the United States -- especially because of the group's "cooperation" with Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In its annual report on global terrorism, the U.S. State Department said that although Al-Qaeda's "core" membership in Pakistan has become weaker, the group retains "the capability to conduct regional and transnational" terrorist attacks.

The report said "increased resource-sharing" between Al-Qaeda and its Pakistan-based allies such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Haqqani Network means that the terrorist threat in South Asia remains high.

The report covers 2010, before U.S. forces killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.

The report also lists Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Cuba as what the United States considers to be state sponsors of terrorism.

It said Iran was "the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2010," and cited "financial, material and logistic support" for militant groups in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The report accused Iran's regime of backing the Palestinian group Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, along with Lebanon's Hizballah, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim militant groups.

According to a statistical annex prepared by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, there were more than 11,500 terrorist attacks in 72 countries last year. These caused more than 13,200 deaths, with more than 75 percent of them occurring in South Asia and the Middle East.

compiled from agency reports