View Full Version : Hunt for bin Laden intensifies after top aide is captured

lucky wilbury
03-07-2004, 02:18 AM

Hunt for bin Laden intensifies after top aide is captured
By Massoud Ansari in Islamabad and Philip Sherwell
(Filed: 07/03/2004)

A son of Osama bin Laden's deputy has given crucial information on the whereabouts of al-Qa'eda leaders after being captured by Pakistani forces in a lawless frontier area close to Afghanistan, intelligence officials in Islamabad have revealed.

Ayman al-Zawahiri's son, Khalid, was seized along with 20 other suspected foreign militants in a raid by Pakistan's security forces in the remote South Waziristan area 10 days ago, officials have told the Telegraph.

Information gleaned from him by interrogators has helped direct Pakistani and American forces in their drive to capture bin Laden and other senior al-Qa'eda figures, being conducted in the mountainous areas on both sides of the border.

The authorities in Islamabad are unwilling formally to announce the capture of the younger al-Zawahiri, but officials have privately confirmed that he is being questioned by a joint team of intelligence officers - from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the CIA - at a secret location in Pakistan.

They say that recent sweeps by British and American special forces in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan have been linked to disclosures made by Khalid al-Zawahiri and others - including his wife - captured with him in raids on houses in Azam Warak, nine miles from Wana, the main town of South Waziristan.

Pakistani security forces also recovered ammunition, passports, video cassettes and other literature belonging to the al-Qa'eda terrorist network in the raids in the lawless frontier area. Al-Zawahiri is said to have been in touch with his father recently.

Hundreds of troops from Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps, backed by helicopter gun ships, have been deployed in the area to tackle the foreign militants and either capture bin Laden, or drive him across the Afghan border into American hands.

More than 1,600 American troops, including special forces units, are in place at Salerno base near Khost in eastern Afghanistan ready for an all-out spring offensive to capture bin Laden.

By next month, that figure will have more than doubled, bolstered by a heavy contingent of SAS soldiers who have been assigned a key role in the operation. American engineers are currently enlarging and upgrading a landing strip at Salerno so that large military planes can land there to support the mission.

Pakistan is reported to have secretly agreed to permit American and British forces to cross into its volatile border tribal areas from Afghanistan in large enough numbers to pursue al-Qa'eda and Taliban fighters.

The extremely sensitive agreement is said to be part of an unofficial deal, in return for Washington supporting President Pervez Musharraf's controversial decision to pardon Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man behind Pakistan's nuclear bomb, for selling nuclear weapons materials on the international black market.

According to The New Yorker magazine, an intelligence official said: "Musharraf told us, 'We've got guys inside. The people who provide fresh fruits and vegetables and herd the goats [for bin Laden and his followers]'. It's a quid pro quo: we're going to get our troops inside Pakistan in return for not forcing Musharraf to deal with Khan."

There has been heavy speculation that American and Pakistani forces are finally closing in on bin Laden, who slipped through the fingers of the coalition hunting him in the Tora Bora mountain region at the end of 2001.

The terrorist leader and his assistants are suspected to have been hiding in the semi-autonomous regions along the 1,500-mile border with Afghanistan, where inhabitants remain sympathetic to the Taliban movement as well as the Arab fighters who came to support it.

Last month the CIA's top official responsible for south Asia visited the tribal regions to plan the crackdown. "He held meetings with his Pakistani counterparts and exchanged notes with them, including satellite imagery and other scientific details," said an official.

Officials said that the government of Pakistan is under immense pressure from the Bush administration to launch a "now or never" operation to capture bin Laden and his associates.

The launch of the Pakistani military operation has infuriated local Pathan tribes and led to the provincial government - which is dominated by mullahs from a six-party Islamic alliance, the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal - denouncing President Musharraf as an American stooge. Leaders have warned that the operation in the tribal areas will have serious consequences for the security of Pakistan.

Maulana Abdul Malik Wazir, a member of Pakistan's national assembly from North Waziristan, said that most people were furious at the way in which the authorities were conducting the operation. He warned: "You know that almost every tribesman is loaded with weapons in the tribal region and if they are pushed to the wall they would never hesitate to take the law into their own hands."

03-07-2004, 09:09 AM
Capturing Bin Laden during the Democratic Primary would RAWK!!!

:killer: :rockit: :rockit2:

John Ashcroft
03-07-2004, 09:03 PM
You know, it's amazing that you still see people whining and complaining about any deal considering Abdul Qadeer Khan's pardon. It's simply the way the world works. Most of the time foreign policy consists of dealing with the lesser of two evils. To state otherwise is either the result of a drug induced lapse of reason, or remarkable ignorance.