Osama, where art thou?

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by NightTrain, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. NightTrain

    NightTrain VIP Member

    Aug 29, 2003
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    Wasilla, Alaska

    Osama, where are thou?
    The Al-Qaeda leader has been hunted for years. President Clinton in 1998 reportedly signed a secret Presidential Finding authorizing CIA to capture or kill bin Laden. Soon afterward CIA provided "specific, predictive, actionable" intelligence, and President Clinton authorized a lethal attack on al Qaeda training camps near Khost, Afghanistan. Bin Laden escaped, having left one hour before the attack. Was he warned? The President then allegedly signed additional Presidential Findings, authorizing the killing of the top leadership and permitting planes carrying them to be shot down. That also was not successful. The Navy reportedly posted two submarines in the Indian Ocean to shoot missiles at bin Laden, but the time lag between sighting and locating the target and the arrival of the missile did not lead to success.

    As General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the JCS, noted, 'You can develop military operations until hell freezes over, but they are worthless without intelligence." An intelligence breakthrough in the war on terrorism and Al-Qaeda came with the Predator UAV. In 2000, the Predator, an Air Force one-thousand pound unmanned propeller plane, came on line and provided an intelligence break-through -- live video surveillance, day or night, and through cloud cover. It provided spectacular surveillance coverage and pictures. Live video feeds now captured the daily routines inside Al-Qaeda training camps and operating areas. It was deployed under CIA auspices. By the spring of 2001 the USAF was planning the further step of arming the Predator, allowing the reaction time from intelligence analysis to operational strike decision to be enormously condensed. USAF was initially looking at a three-year test plan. It was condensed to three months with White House and CIA encouragement, and the armed version of Predator was declared operational by the summer of 2001.

    September 11 cleared away all bureaucratic cobwebs. President Bush reportedly signed a Top Secret Memorandum of Notification calling for Bin Laden to be either captured or killed on sight on a high priority basis. By November the armed Predator was deployed to help destroy what video surveillance showed to be a high-level Al-Qaeda meeting outside Kabul. This first strike was a brilliant success, killing Al-Qaeda's military chief, Mohammed Atef, but again, Bin-Laden was spared. A week later his voice was allegedly intercepted on a satellite phone in the Tora Bora mountain cave complex, and the area was pounded by B-52's. This was the last place Bin Laden was reportedly detected as definitely alive. The best estimate is that he either walked, rode a donkey or took a bus across the border into Pakistan, sometime in December 2001.

    With continuing hints of his survival detected by Intelligence, the hunt continued throughout 2002 by intense CIA, FBI and Military Special Forces and other resources. In March 2003 there was success in capturing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan. He was believed to be the third most important figure in the Al Qaeda organization, but although he sang like a canary, he did not lead investigators to the chief. Days later Intelligence traced a phone call from Saad bin Laden (son) to a location in Baluchistan, a lawless tribal province bordering Afghanistan. An unmanned surveillance plane then spotted a convoy in the area moving at night, consisting of about a hundred people on horseback and on foot, advancing along an old smuggler's route. It was intercepted by a team of CIA and Delta forces, but no luck -- the convoy was only a group of refugees. In this "war," innocents are inevitably killed.

    Where is he? Media reports have it that bin Laden is protected by tribal leaders in the border area who have an arms-length relationship with the Pakistani government. There is conjecture that he is protected by concentric circles of security, including an outer ring of tribal leaders and people, and an inner ring of personal aides and bodyguards. He is surrounded by devout followers, in a sea of impoverished, fundamentalist tribal people. He cannot move except at night, and cannot communicate by phone, radio or walkie-talkie. He reportedly sends hand-written notes and taped messages transmitted by a human chain. He seems to be nearly alone, but keeps in touch with the remnants of his inner circle, including Mullah Mohammed Omar, the fugitive leaders of the Taliban. He no longer sends video tapes of himself, possibly due to wounds he is said to have sustained.

    The role of Pakistani forces is always debated. There is a sense that lower-level Pakistani intelligence (ISI) officials remain sympathetic to the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban (not the same as the Al Qaeda terrorist organization). The official position is that President Musharraf's government is working hard to root out terrorists within Pakistan. According to Cofer Black, famed CIA counter-terrorist officer, "The Pakistani government is a strong and key player in the global war on terrorism, and their contribution has been second to none." More than 25 Pakistani security officials have been killed helping the US capture an estimated 480 Al Qaeda members and sympathizers. (Globally one-third of the Al Qaeda leadership is thought to have been captured or killed.)

    President Musharraf must contend with internal political opposition, including an increasing hold of Islamic fundamentalism on the democratic electorate in the North-West Frontier province. He must deal with the fickleness of American support, and accept the weakening of serious American counter-terrorist forces that were diverted to Iraq (e.g. Arabic-speakers, collection systems). Finally he must persuade and obtain American understanding that the approach to the tribal area 'sinkholes' must be more political and anthropological rather than solely military. Kill innocent people, and you and your clan have enemies for a hundred years. This part of the world (and the Middle East also) runs on revenge.

    Bin Laden still exists. His Al-Qaeda organization has been damaged severely, but has somewhat adapted and decentralized. His regional support base is also regenerating. There are reports that the Taliban have regrouped in Afghanistan and in the tribal areas of Pakistan, providing cover for him. Bin Laden remains the 'spiritual' leader of the Al Qaeda terrorists. His death would not stop terrorism, but nevertheless could have a profound political effect, either positive through fear of US power, or negative if he lives on as an inspiring "martyr." Perhaps he should continue, as one would put it, as 'Osama bin Forgotten.'
    (Jonkers: (The New Yorker, 4 August 03, p. 26, J. Mayer)
  2. jxxxmy

    jxxxmy Guest

  3. janeeng

    janeeng Guest

    Damn, that was some serious talk jxxxmy!!! couldn't agree with you more on this one!

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