|According to the official the paramilitary force is targeting Taliban fighters such as these, pictured earlier this year.|
Washington -- The CIA created and controls a paramilitary force of 3,000 Afghans that conducts clandestine missions targeting al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan, a U.S. official told CNN on Wednesday.
The official described the force as "well-trained" and "effective."
"You're talking about one of the finest Afghan fighting forces, which has made major contributions to security and stability," the official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic.
The Counter terrorism Pursuit Teams were first revealed in a new book by Bob Woodward, associate editor at the Washington Post. "Obama's Wars," which lays out deep divisions in the Obama administration over Afghanistan strategy, will be released Monday.
According to that book, by the end of a 2009 strategy review, Obama concluded that the task in Afghanistan could not succeed without wiping out al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban havens operating with impunity in the border tribal areas of Pakistan, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
"We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan," Obama is quoted as saying in Woodward's book, the Post said.
A CIA spokesman would not comment on the paramilitary force.
But Pakistani officials refuted the claims that CIA-controlled forces are operating within Pakistan.
"Pakistan will never allow boots on its soil," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said, referring to foreign troops. "This is one of our red lines."
A senior Pakistani military official added that there are 954 checkpoints along the border that are manned by Pakistani security forces. He said it would be "next to impossible for a group of people to enter Pakistan to chase al Qaeda and Taliban militants."
The official did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Al Qaeda in Pakistan remains a lethal enemy for the United States, a counter terrorism official said this week.
But with the help of allies, the United States has been able to score "lots of successes" against the group, said the official, who also requested anonymity.
That includes the success of U.S. unmanned predator strikes in Pakistani regions along the border with Afghanistan. Since the Obama administration took office at the beginning of 2009, missile attacks on suspected terrorists in Pakistan have increased dramatically.
The United States has "cut into their ability to plot, plan and train, but they remain very dangerous, and they are still the hub to all spokes, the heart of al Qaeda," the U.S. official said.
"No one's even close to saying it's over in Pakistan. Not at all. In fact, we not only have to keep up the pressure there, we have to spread it to al Qaeda's nodes and affiliates elsewhere."