Sunday, September 23, 2007

Out of the fryingpanstan and into Waziristan

People you don't want to fuck with
David Seaton's News Links
You could argue that now things are much worse with Al Qaida safe in Pakistan than they were with Al Qaida safe in Taliban Afghanistan. The Taliban didn't have the atomic bomb and NATO could have bombed and raided Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan on a piecemeal, case by case basis for years and thus have interrupted and contained Al Qaida... Now Al Qaida cannot be touched without violating Pakistan's sovereignty, which is something that might stimulate Islamist generals (there are said to quite a few) to conspire (if they aren't conspiring already). DS

Pakistan backs off Al Qaeda pursuit - Los Angeles Times
Abstract: Political turmoil and a spate of brazen attacks by Taliban fighters are forcing Pakistan's president to scale back his government's pursuit of Al Qaeda, according to U.S. intelligence officials who fear that the terrorist network will be able to accelerate its efforts to rebuild and plot new attacks. The development threatens a pillar of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy, which has depended on Pakistan to play a lead role in keeping Al Qaeda under pressure to reduce its ability to coordinate strikes. President Pervez Musharraf, facing a potentially fateful election next month and confronting calls to yield power after years of autocratic rule, appears too vulnerable to pursue aggressive counter-terrorism operations at the behest of the United States, the intelligence officials said. At the same time, the Pakistani military has suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks at the hands of militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda figures are believed to be hiding. U.S. intelligence officials said the conditions that have allowed Al Qaeda to regain strength are likely to persist, enabling it to continue training foreign fighters and plot new attacks.(...) "In the next few days, we're probably going to see a withdrawal of forces that the Pakistanis put there," the intelligence official said, adding that the move could solidify a "safe haven, where the [Al Qaeda] leadership is secure, operational planners can do their business, and foreigners can come in and be trained and redeploy to the West." Meanwhile, Bin Laden declared war on Musharraf in a new audiotape released last week, a message that experts said was timed to take advantage of the political turmoil.(...) The unfolding situation has put Washington in the conflicted position of either pressing for democratic reforms in a nation where doing so is likely to undermine efforts to apprehend Bin Laden, or pushing to shut down terrorist camps linked to a series of plots against Western targets. Polls in Pakistan suggest that Bin Laden is more popular than many of the Muslim nation's politicians, and analysts say it is extremely difficult for the beleaguered Musharraf to remain aligned with the U.S. "From a domestic politics perspective, sustained Pakistani action against Al Qaeda in [the tribal areas] would be suicidal," said Seth Jones, an expert on terrorism and Pakistan at Rand Corp. "It would only increase hatred against his regime at the precise moment when he is politically weakest."(...) Authorities in Germany who disrupted an alleged bombing plot this month said at least five of the suspects had traveled to the tribal regions of Waziristan to receive training in the use of chemical explosives and detonators. The suspected German cell was rolled up in part because U.S. intelligence had intercepted suspicious communications between Pakistan and the German city of Stuttgart. READ IT ALL

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