Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our Friends, The Pakistanis

Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.

American analysts said recent intelligence showed that the compounds functioned under a loose command structure and were operated by groups of Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants allied with Al Qaeda. They receive guidance from their commanders and Mr. Zawahri, the analysts said. Mr. bin Laden, who has long played less of an operational role, appears to have little direct involvement.
So, what has al Qaeda done since being forced from the relative safety of Afghanistan by the US and coalition forces since 2001? They've moved next door into the lawless region on the Afghan-Pakistani border. Pakistan is nominally an ally of the US in the war on terror, but refuses to take the kind of action necessary to stamp out the jihadi threat altogether. Part of the problem stems from the fact that there are more than a few al Qaeda sympathizers in the Pakistani government and that makes Musharaf's job more difficult.

This once again highlights the need to deal with failed states and lawless regions. Al Qaeda takes advantage of the anarchy in these areas to regain its footing and one can bet that they're going to use this time and space to prepare for yet more terror attacks, including the potential of attacks against the continental United States.

J.D. at LGF highlights one potential problem with the story - the reliance on unnamed sources. Is no one willing to go on the record with this story? Why not?

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