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US spy agency to focus resources on China while fighting Al-Qaeda

In a recent closed-door meeting with leaders of the CIA's counter-terrorism center,the CIA'ssecond official said that the fight against al Qaeda and other extremist groups We have made it clear that we will continue to do so. Priorities _ But agency funding and resources will increasingly be shifted to focus on China.

A year after the war in Afghanistan ended, President Joe Biden and senior national security officials did not talk much about counter-terrorism, andChinaIt talks more about the political, economic and military threats it poses. Russia too. A quiet reorientation is taking place within the intelligence service, moving hundreds of officers, including those previously working on terrorism, into China-focused positions.

Intelligence officials stress that the fight against terrorism is largely ignored. Just a week ago, it was revealed that a CIA drone strike had killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawari in Kabul. But days later, China held large-scale military exercises and threatened to cut off contact with the United States,over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. It emphasized a message conveyed by CIA Deputy Director David Cohen at that meeting a few weeks ago.

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Read More: Al-Qaeda Leader Al-Zawari Put

Increased Surveillance Against the Taliban

The United States has long been wary of China's growing political and economic ambitions. China has attempted to influence foreign elections, launched a campaign of cyber and corporate espionage, and detained millions of Uyghur minorities in camps. Some experts also believe that Beijing will try to seize Taiwan's autonomous democratic island by force within the next few years.

Intelligence officials say more insight into China is needed, including the failure to clearly identify the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beijing has been accused of withholding information about the origin of the virus.

The war in Ukraine also underlined the importance of Russia as a target. The US used declassified information to expose Russian President Vladimir Putin's war plans before the invasion and garner diplomatic support for Kyiv.

Proponents of the Biden administration's approach point to the fact that the United States was able to track down and kill al-Zawari is evidence of its ability to target Afghan threats from abroad. Houses say the fact that al-Zawari lived in Kabul, apparently under Taliban protection, suggests there is a resurgence of extremist groups that the US is ill-prepared to counter. 37}

Click to play video: 'White House says U.S. will continue efforts to keep communication with Beijing as China suspends dialogue' The White House says the United States will continue efforts to maintain communication with Beijing as China suspends dialogue
White House says US continues efforts to maintain communication with Beijing as China suspends dialogue

Changing priorities is backed by many former intelligence officers and lawmakers from both parties who say it is premature. This includes those who have served in Afghanistan and other missions against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

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Rep. Jason Crow, a former Army ranger who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, believes the US is overly focused on counter-terrorism. He said he believes that he has been able to match The past few years.

"The far bigger existential threats are Russia and China," said Crowe, a Democrat from Colorado and a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees. Terrorist groups “will not disrupt the American way of life … as China can,” he said.

CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorpe said terrorism "remains a very real challenge."

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“Despite crises such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and strategic challenges such as those posed by the People's Republic of China, the CIA continues to address terrorist threats. We will actively track it around the world and work with our partners to combat it,” said Thorpe.

READ MORE: US supports Taiwan, Pelosi said during visit, amid Chinese protests

The CIA and other intelligence agencies have been asked to make China a top priority, according to several people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified information issue. ing. Pushing resources to China requires cuts in other areas, including counter-terrorism. Specific figures were not available because the intelligence budget is classified.

Lawmakers, in particular, want more information on China's advanced technological developments. Under President Xi Jinping, China has pledged trillions of dollars in investments in quantum science, artificial intelligence and other technologies that could disrupt future wars and the fabric of the economy.

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As part of the transition, a congressional commission asked how intelligence agencies are spending money in China. They are trying to better track it and how specifically the program contributes to that mission, said a person familiar with the matter.

Rep. Chris Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a Utah Republican, said: “It means people, resources, military assets, and diplomacy.”

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The CIA will create two new "mission centers" announced last year. One on China and one on emerging technologies to centralize and improve information gathering on these issues. The CIA is also trying to recruit more Chinese speakers and reduce wait times for security clearances to recruit new personnel more quickly.

are learning Chinese and moving to new China-focused roles, but not all of these jobs require language training, said a person familiar with the matter.

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It is noteworthy that many were transferred to counter-terrorism roles more quickly after the Advances from counter-terrorism operations, including better use of data and various sources of information to build networks and identify targets, will also be useful against Russia and China, the former officer said.

"What has become extraordinary is the analysis and targeting machine," said Douglas Wise, a former senior CIA officer and deputy director of the Counterterrorism Center.

The CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, renamed the Counter-Terrorism Mission Center in a 2015 reorganization, has seen many believe its job to keep Americans safe from terrorism since 9/11. people are proud of. On September 26, 2001, it was part of an operation to expel the Taliban and find and kill Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden.

And thirteen years after a double agent tricked a cop tracking Al-Zawari into blowing himself up and killing seven agency personnel, the CIA killed him in a strike. , no civilian casualties were reported.

READ MORE: US Operation Killed Al Qaeda Leader Al-Zawari, President Joe Biden Confirms

The CIA has also been involved in some of the darkest moments in the war on terrorism. It ran a secret "black site" prison to hold terrorism suspects, and some were wrong. A Senate investigation found that he used interrogation methods that amounted to torture. Elite Afghan special operations forces trained by the CIA have also been accused of killing civilians and violating international law.

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Whether counter-terrorism has pushed intelligence agencies too far from traditional espionage, or whether the CIA's efforts to target terrorists It has long been debated whether some should be done instead by special forces under the military.

Mark Polymeropoulos is a former CIA operations officer and former base commander in Afghanistan. He said he supported a greater focus on China and Russia, but added, "There is no reason to reduce what we had to do." Remember, this idea everyone felt on Sept. 12 that all the CT work they did was somehow wrong," he said.

Reorienting agencies to focus more on China and Russia will ultimately take years and requires both patience and recognition that agency culture will take time to change. Wise said.

"For decades we have been counter-terrorism," Wise said. "This adaptation requires rational planning. It won't take long enough for an adversary to exploit the glacial process."

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