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    Al-Qaeda gains strength, active in North Caucasus - envoy

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    Al-Qaeda, the international terrorist organization, has not become weaker but gained in strength, while hundreds of similar extremist groups have emerged worldwide, a Russian presidential representative said on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, February 17 (RIA Novosti) - Al-Qaeda, the international terrorist organization, has not become weaker but gained in strength, while hundreds of similar extremist groups have emerged worldwide, a Russian presidential representative said on Tuesday.

    "We said that al-Qaeda had been weakened financially and that a change of generations had taken place, that did not result in management loss, but in its perfection, reformation, and today we see... that the organization in some ways is more prepared for the current global situation," Anatoly Safonov, the presidential representative for international cooperation on combating terrorism and organized crime, said.

    He added that hundreds of similar organizations to al-Qaeda have emerged in recent years with some of them operating in the troubled Russian North Caucasus.

    "There are still active representatives of international terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, operating in the North Caucasus," Safonov said.

    Last month Russian Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev told journalists that al-Qaeda is active in Russia's Republic of Daghestan and Chechnya where they carry out regular inspections of illegal armed units providing them with weapons and explosives.

    Sporadic terrorist attacks and militant clashes are common in the Russian republics of Ingushetia and Daghestan, and in neighboring Chechnya, although the Kremlin has ended its campaign to fight separatists and terrorists there.

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