Monday, October 30, 2006

The Madrassa Raid

Was the raid on the Pakistani madrassa that killed 80 really an attack on Zawahiri?
Ayman al Zawahiri was the target of a Predator missile attack this morning on a religious school in Pakistan, according to Pakistani intelligence sources.

ABC News has learned the raid was launched after U.S. intelligence received tips and examined Predator reconnaissance indicating that al Qaeda’s No. 2 man may have been staying at the school, which is located in the Bajaur region near the village that is thought to be al Qaeda’s winter headquarters.

Despite earlier reports that the missiles had been launched by Pakistani military helicopters, Pakistani intelligence sources now tell ABC News that the missiles were fired from a U.S. Predator drone plane.

Between two and five senior al Qaeda militants were killed in the attack, including the mastermind of the airliners plot in the U.K., according to Pakistani intelligence sources.

No word yet on whether or not Zawahiri was killed in the raid, but one Pakistani intelligence source did express doubt that Zawahiri would have been staying in a madrassa, which is an obvious target for strikes against militants. That source, however, did express confidence that Pakistani intelligence is closing in on Zawahiri’s location.
Go ahead, question the timing, but Zawahiri and the al Qaeda acolytes have been timing their attacks, videos, and operations to coincide with the US electoral schedule as well. The attacks have risen because they think that they can force the US to tuck tail and run if they run up the body count before the elections - forcing a change in US foreign policy that includes cutting and running from Iraq. These aren't country bumpkins we're talking about but saavy terrorists who have long bet that the US was weak-willed and would not have the lasting power to fight them around the world. A small dedicated cadre of terrorists leading an amorphous group of terrorists willing to take their own lives to kill thousands could simply outlast the US or any other nation because the lack of an identifiable footprint in a given nation enables and enhances their stealth.

The problem for the terrorists is that they've found that the US has been quite effective in its counter terror operations despite the media play to the contrary. The terrorists believe their own hype, and they're likely to make mistake. Zawahiri may have made a big one of his own.

AJ Strata and Allah both weigh in - Allah is doubtful that we got Zawahiri, but wonders whether Bush should wait to make the announcement.

I happen to think we should wait - not because of the political fireworks it could or should create, but because the release of that news should be based on whether we can use this time to roll up yet more al Qaeda members - tracking back those terrorists who might succeed Zawahiri and rack up more victories. Yet, there's something to be said for making the announcement. The Left will always question the timing of these things no matter what. That's all they've got left to hold on to.

Making the announcement would certainly change the dynamics of the election, but more importantly it would show that the current Administration and policy direction is getting results, which is the bottom line despite the toll in American lives lost in this war.

Cross your fingers and hope we've gotten him.

Curt at Flopping Aces has more, including maps of the location where the raid took place, and wonders why ABC News among other news outlets are focusing on the fact that the raid was against a school, and not that it was a terrorist meeting ground. Priorities.

There's still confusion over whether this was a Pakistani raid or a US led raid. The notion that the US would target locations inside Pakistan has rubbed the Pakistanis the wrong way in the past, but Musharaf is playing with a very dangerous hand - he's got the Islamists who want to get rid of him on the one side, and the US that is helping him out on the other. Bill Roggio has more.

The US says that they had nothing to do with the raid.
“It was completely done by the Pakistani military,” U.S. military spokesman Maj. Matt Hackathorn said in Afghanistan.
'Militants'blame the US for the airstrikes. All this puts Musharaf in a tough position:
Among those killed in the attack in the remote northwestern village of Chingai, two miles from the Afghan border, was a cleric who had sheltered militants in the past and was believed associated with al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The raid threatens efforts by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to persuade deeply conservative tribespeople to back his government over pro-Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, who enjoy strong support in many semiautonomous regions in northern Pakistan. The planned signing of a peace deal between tribal leaders and the military was canceled Monday in response to the airstrike.

Musharraf has been under intense pressure, particularly from the United States and Afghanistan, to rein in militant groups, particularly along the porous Pakistan-Afghan frontier, where Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahri are believed to be hiding. The Pakistani leader, along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, met with President Bush in Washington last month to address the issue.
Andrew Cochran of The Counterterrorism Blog notes that the raid should puncture the belief that the madrassas are not terror training facilities, though I doubt that the Left would ever be disabused of that notion.

Others blogging this developing story: Wake Up America, Blue Crab Boulevard, Michelle Malkin, LGF, and the Moderate Voice.

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