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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow NIE-U.S. Sounds Alarm on al Qaeda Moves and Hezbollah in the US
NIE-U.S. Sounds Alarm on al Qaeda Moves and Hezbollah in the US PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 18 July 2007

NIE showing growing concern of Iran using Hezbollah against the US
NIE showing growing concern of Iran using Hezbollah against the US

Pressure Intensifies on Bush To Eradicate Pakistani Haven;
Unrest Surrounds Musharraf

New terrorism-threat alarms from Washington are being sounded in large measure because of what intelligence reports say are signs that al Qaeda has rebuilt a base in Pakistan that could be a launching pad for attacks in the West.

U.S. policy makers, under pressure to eradicate this haven with or without the cooperation of Islamabad, describe a vexing dilemma. Any major unilateral effort by the Pentagon inside Pakistan, say U.S. officials, could spark a local backlash strong enough to topple President Pervez Musharraf, a leader President Bush has called Washington's strongest ally in the fight against al Qaeda.

QUESTION OF THE DAY
 
How accurate a picture of al Qaeda do you believe U.S. intelligence has?The U.S. intelligence community, in an assessment released yesterday, said Osama bin Laden's terrorist network remains "the most serious threat" to the U.S. homeland. Pakistan's tribal areas, which abut the Afghanistan border, have become a haven and operational command for al Qaeda's senior leadership -- probably including Mr. bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, U.S. intelligence officials say.

Al Qaeda leaders, according to U.S. officials, are using the border region to train recruits from Europe and Africa while reaching out globally to affiliate groups, particularly in Iraq and North Africa. Al Qaeda's core leadership "can execute some level of control over the organization," while both recruiting and deploying personnel, said Ted Gistaro, an official on the staff of the Director of National Intelligence and a principal author of yesterday's assessment, the National Intelligence Estimate.

Many counterterrorism officials question whether Gen. Musharraf, who is also Pakistan's military chief, has the will or political support to mount a major operation inside the tribal areas against al Qaeda and the Taliban, the Islamist fundamentalists who ruled Afghanistan until late 2001.

"The Bush administration is in a huge bind here," says Seth Jones, a terrorism analyst at the Rand Corp., a think tank with offices in Washington. "It doesn't have much of a military option."

Some U.S. politicians questioned the timing of the assessment's release, saying it could be used to distract the public from the Bush administration's troubles in Iraq. Others said it shows the administration's failures in combating terrorism. Senior intelligence officials said the report had been originally requested in 2004.

Growing unrest surrounding Gen. Musharraf helps explain why worries among U.S. terror-watchers have escalated so markedly in recent weeks. A suicide bomber killed 15 people yesterday, at a rally in Islamabad for Pakistan's suspended chief justice, police said.

FIGHT FOR IRAQ

There are also signs that the Taliban and al Qaeda presence has spread into the nontribal regions of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province. There is also emerging evidence that the Taliban's influence is reaching the Pakistani capital.

This month, Gen. Musharraf's troops launched a siege on the Red Mosque, a center of radical-and-fundamentalist teaching in Islamabad, that resulted in the deaths of dozens of students and leaders identified by Pakistan as Taliban supporters. Pakistani officials said the action was taken after Gen. Musharraf recognized the threat of the growing "Talibanization" of Pakistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda have used the bloodshed as a rallying call for an even broader campaign against Gen. Musharraf's government.

The raid on the Red Mosque also led leaders in FATA to call off the truce with the Islamabad government. In recent days, militants in the tribal areas and Islamabad have killed hundreds of Pakistani troops and citizens in suicide attacks. Mr. Zawahiri has also called for the assassination of Pakistan's leader.

Senior U.S. and Pakistani officials said the raid on the Red Mosque was part of a broader effort by Gen. Musharraf to push back the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Pakistan's government isn't declaring its truce with the tribal leaders dead, but it has rushed troops into the North West Frontier Province in recent days. Pakistani troops have also re-manned checkpoints in FATA's North and South Waziristan districts.

Pakistan and the U.S. are also seeking to drastically increase developmental aid to the tribal areas in coming months. The two countries have pledged nearly $2.8 billion for the FATA during the next five years largely on schools, roads and medical clinics. Islamabad and Washington are also cooperating to further develop a Frontier Corps of troops focused on policing the Pakistani-Afghanistan border.

"Now having dealt with the mosque, it's pretty much crossing a line and there's no going back," said Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of state for South Asia. "I think it shows that the government of Pakistan is prepared to move, to act, against a dangerous militancy."

The Pentagon has launched limited operations inside the tribal areas, such as missile strikes and intelligence gathering activities, but senior U.S. officials balked at more aggressive action for fear of destabilizing Gen. Musharraf.

Many Pakistan watchers say Gen. Musharraf would be hard pressed to rid the tribal areas of al Qaeda and the Taliban, even if he has the will to do so. The groups operate in remote mountainous areas that neither Islamabad nor earlier British colonial governments ever controlled. Elements of Pakistan's security forces helped fund and arm the Taliban in its earlier years, raising questions about their willingness to conduct military action against the militia.

Gen. Musharraf's ability to act could be compromised by his increasing political weakness at home. The Pakistani leader has survived in power in part through a political alliance with a coalition of Islamist parties, many of whom are sympathetic to the Taliban.

Many of Gen. Musharraf's supporters in Washington hope the Pakistani leader seizes on the Red Mosque incident both to crack down on Islamist militants but also to build bridges with secular political parties that have opposed his rule. These groups have supported the Pakistan leader's moves against the Taliban and the Red Mosque while still calling for a return of civilian rule to their country.

By JAY SOLOMON in Washington and ZAHID HUSSAIN in Islamabad
July 18, 2007; Page A6 Wall Street Journal

Write to Jay Solomon at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Full Report Here [ NIE.PDF ]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the Whitehouse

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 17, 2007

Press Briefing by White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend
James S. Brady Briefing Room

11:04 A.M. EDT

...

The NIE also refers to the homeland threats from Lebanese Hezbollah, the state-sponsored and supported by Iran, and the threat from single-issue groups, as well as the challenge of adapting our homeland defensive efforts and tools to detect and disrupt plots in an era of globalization and technological advances. The NIE notes the al Qaeda and its affiliates have sought safe haven in the federally administrated tribal areas of Pakistan and replaced senior leaders and operational commanders that have been captured or killed.

...

Q It's one of two known al Qaeda leadership councils are apparently meeting regularly in eastern Iran. And am wondering if that is accurate or not.

MS. TOWNSEND: I've not seen the report that you're referring to. We have heard reports over the years that there are al Qaeda, senior al Qaeda leadership members in custody in Iran. As you know, Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism with Hezbollah, and we do not have counterterrorism cooperation from the state of Iran. So it's difficult for me to make a comment on internal Iran matters.

Thank you.

END 11:54 A.M. EDT

 



Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 July 2007 )
 
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