Saturday 18 November 2017

Obama willing to order further raids on terrorists

Jon Swaine in New York

America may order more secret overseas military raids like the one that killed Osama bin Laden, despite Pakistan's furious reaction to the operation, US President Barack Obama said yesterday.

"Our job is to secure the United States," Mr Obama said, as a former adviser to Bill Clinton and George W Bush claimed that the White House had prepared plans to seize Pakistani nuclear weapons to keep them out of the hands of terrorists.

"We are very respectful of the sovereignty of Pakistan," Mr Obama told the BBC's 'Andrew Marr Show'. "But we cannot allow someone who is actively planning to kill our people or our allies' people to come to fruition without us taking some action."

Speaking in advance of his first state visit to Britain, Mr Obama said he would not hesitate to send US troops into Pakistan again if a senior Taliban leader was found there. The US counts Pakistan as a key ally in its fight against terrorism but relations have been strained by allegations of Pakistani intelligence assisting extremists.

Earlier this month, Mr Obama enraged Pakistani leaders by suggesting that the al-Qa'ida leader must have had an external support network to allow him to live undetected in his Abbottabad compound.

Yesterday, Mr Obama again raised the possibility that the support network was "governmental" rather than made up of civilians who sympathised with Bin Laden.

He said he hoped the raid would be "a wake-up call, where we start seeing a more effective co-operative relationship" with leaders in Islamabad.

His comments came as Jack Caravelli, who served in the Clinton and Bush administrations, said the White House suspected that terrorists could obtain nuclear weapons via Pakistan, and had made plans to take over Pakistani facilities if needed.

"In the current Obama administration, the plans exist -- that in the most dire of circumstances -- the United States would at least have the options to undertake operations to try and secure those weapons," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Stressing that there was reason to believe that al-Qa'ida would seek to use Pakistani nuclear material, Mr Caravelli said a plan to deal with a "nightmare scenario" could be presented to Mr Obama.

In a separate speech, Mr Obama reiterated his controversial call last week for Israel to advance the Middle East peace process by retreating to boundaries in place before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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