U.S. and European officials have traced major support for the recently foiled aircraft terror plot to Pakistan, though they praised the Pakistani government for its ?vital? role in unraveling the scheme. Investigators said the operation drew financial and logistical support from Karachi and Lahore, and at least 17 of those in British custody are said to have ties to Pakistan. According to an intelligence source, “The Pakistan connection is the big focus now?. Everything is coming out of there.”
U.S. intelligence analysts say they believe that the principal remaining leadership of al-Qaeda is hiding in Pakistan. Despite increased cooperation between the Islamabad government and Western powers since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, they say, the number of extremists inside the country may be on the rise and elements of Pakistan’s intelligence services remain sympathetic to their cause.
On Friday, the British government portrayed Pakistan’s cooperation as vital in undoing the alleged bombing conspiracy, but some U.S. officials said that five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, they are far from countering, or even understanding, the level of threat emanating from Pakistan’s lawless regions and bustling cities.