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Thread: CIA chief: Pakistan border is al-Qaida HQ

  1. #1

    CIA chief: Pakistan border is al-Qaida HQ

    CIA chief: Pakistan border is al-Qaida HQ
    Director tells NBC that any al-Qaida attack would likely originate there

    The Associated Press
    updated 12:40 p.m. MT, Sun., March. 30, 2008

    WASHINGTON - The situation in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan where al-Qaida has established a safe haven presents a "clear and present danger" to the West, CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday NBC's "Meet the Press."

    Hayden cited the belief by intelligence agencies that Osama bin Laden is hiding there in arguing that the U.S. has an interest in targeting the border region. If there were another terrorist attack against Americans, Hayden said, it would most certainly originate from that region.

    "It's very clear to us that al-Qaida has been able for the past 18 months or so to establish a safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border area that they have not enjoyed before, and that they're bringing in operatives into the region for training," he said.

    Hayden added that those operatives "wouldn't attract your attention if they were going through the customs line at Dulles (airport, outside Washington) with you when you're coming back to the United States — who look Western."

    Washington has sought reassurance that Pakistan's new coalition government will keep the pressure on extremist groups using the country's lawless northwest frontier as a springboard for attacks in Afghanistan and beyond.

    Over the weekend, Pakistan's new prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, pledged to make the fight against terrorism his top priority. But he said peace talks and aid programs could be more effective than weapons in fighting militancy in tribal areas along the Afghan border. It was the new government's latest rebuke of President Pervez Musharraf's military tactics, which many Pakistanis believe have led to a spike in domestic attacks.

    Hayden declined to comment on reports that the U.S. might be escalating unilateral strikes against al-Qaida members and fighters operating in Pakistan's tribal areas out of concern that the pro-Western Musharraf's influence might be waning.

    Hayden only would say that Pakistan's cooperation in the past has been crucial to U.S. efforts to stem terrorism there.

    "The situation on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border presents clear and present danger to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the West in general and United States in particular," he said. "Operationally, we are turning every effort to capture or kill that leadership from the top to the bottom."

    On Iraq, Hayden said it could be "years" before the central government might be able to function on its own without the aid of U.S. combat forces. Hayden said he would defer to the specific assessments of Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, top U.S. diplomat in Baghdad, who return to Washington in April to report to Congress.

  2. #2

    Bush needs to pull his head out of Pakistan's lap, and act like he has a pair.

    This whole thing is a joke. Musharraf has been a letdown since 2001, yet Bush kept stroking him, in a vain attempt to get the little punk to actually live up to his promises...and when he didn't, busg was too gutless to let our military act on thier own. Now we are going through the same bunch of crap all over again, with a new Pakistani Govt. The only way these people listen is if you threaten them. We should tell them that they can kiss their 8 Billion in aid goodbye and all our military assistance, unless they get their act together and deal with the border area once and for all....and if they refuse, we should do it for them, they don't like it...tuff titty.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bararallu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    NY & TA
    They are a Nuclear armed state. They are also marginally aligned with the Chinese, and can escalate (to their advantage) not only on the Afghani frontier but also: 1. Kashmir, 2. Some of Central Asia and 3. Iran. Some of this can be rather devastating in terms of chocking oil and or causing other major recessionary waves in the West once executed. They have cards they can play and the Sauds, for one, will make sure they will all ways have those cards.

  4. #4
    Angry Lord
    Quote Originally Posted by ForceRecon79 View Post
    The only way these people listen is if you threaten them. We should tell them that they can kiss their 8 Billion in aid goodbye and all our military assistance, unless they get their act together and deal with the border area once and for all....and if they refuse, we should do it for them, they don't like it...tuff titty.
    New york Times reported it to be $10 billion and most of the aid is being diverted elsewhere.

  5. #5
    Angry Lord
    Quote Originally Posted by bararallu View Post
    They are also marginally aligned with the Chinese,
    Most of pakistan's missile and nuclear technology are from China and North Korea. Now china is supplying them with new fighter aircraft called "Thunder".
    There was an interesting Asia Times article some time back on china supplying arms to taliban. China's long term interest is to see that US military is tied down in local conflicts so that US cant come to the aid of Taiwan.

    To really put pressure on pakistan one has to threaten china that the Beijing Olympics may not provide the "image change" that the communists had hoped for showcasing "the peaceful rise of china".

    There has been an uprising and killings in Tibet and the resurfacing of the Muslim problem in Xinjiang which indicates that atleast some "signs" are being sent to China to stop aiding the taliban otherwise Xinjiang could turn into china's Aghanistan.

    Quote Originally Posted by bararallu View Post
    and can escalate (to their advantage) not only on the Afghani frontier but also: 1. Kashmir, 2. Some of Central Asia and 3. Iran.
    1. The israeli ground sensors and the UAV are silently doing their job on the borders. There is also an Israeli-India JV that is developing "unmanned helicopter" that can withstand "severe weather conditions". Pakistan kept the Kashmir pot boling by keeping a constant supply of terrorists. Now that is not so easy with increased survelliance on the border.

    2. Russia and China consider central asia as their backyard and dont like anybody's interference there. If there are bomb blasts or any terror activities, china will be the most affected from economic point and anything that threatens china's economy is whacked down like an fly.

    3. Iran has already faced the brunt of Jundullah attacks launched from pakistani soil. Iranian ambassadors were slaughtered in pakistan just because they were shias. What more can Pakistan do?

    Quote Originally Posted by bararallu View Post
    Some of this can be rather devastating in terms of chocking oil and or causing other major recessionary waves in the West once executed. They have cards they can play and the Sauds, for one, will make sure they will all ways have those cards.
    Pakistan cant threaten world oil supply rather they are facing an shortage of wheat, oil, water and electricity in their nation. All they can do is an issue fatwa, burn some israeli and US flags, bomb an McDonald or an KFC and then go home.

    The "Predators" periodically bomb terrorist hideouts in pakistan along the border with afghanistan. If the pakistanis start acting funny then Islamabad is not far from the afghan border.

  6. #6
    Angry Lord
    Insurgents Are Straddling Pakistani Line
    By Ann Scott Tyson
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, April 4, 2008

    SPERA DISTRICT, Afghanistan -- As a cold darkness enveloped the tiny U.S. military camp just inside Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, word spread that Taliban fighters were on the move nearby, planning an attack.

    Capt. Chris Hammonds expected it. In a mud-brick command center, the 32-year-old Army Ranger pivoted between a radio and a map, tracking reports of approaching Taliban. Several explosions soon ripped through the night as U.S. forces hit the suspected Taliban positions, including a cross-border guided-munitions strike on a compound about a mile inside Pakistan where senior associates of Siraj Haqqani -- considered one of the most dangerous Taliban commanders -- were thought to be meeting.

    The U.S. military usually strikes across the border only when taking accurate fire from Pakistan, and standard practice calls for informing the Pakistani military about threats from its side. But Hammonds argued that the Pakistani military checkpoint was "under siege" from the Taliban and that Pakistani officers -- fearful of retaliation -- could tip off the insurgents.

    The rare strike averted an imminent Taliban attack, Hammonds said, but across the border a starkly different account emerged. "Two women and two children got killed, so whatever was assessed was not correct," said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the Pakistani army. No Taliban were meeting in the family compound, he said. The Pakistani government issued a protest, and demonstrations erupted. "We were never informed about the strike," Abbas said. "This has serious implications for operations."

    The March 12 incident highlights how, more than six years into the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, efforts to stabilize the country increasingly focus on the rugged frontier area straddling the border with Pakistan. Over the past 18 months, Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have exploited peace deals by Pakistan's government to create an unprecedented haven in the region, U.S. officials said. From there, insurgents have escalated attacks in Pakistan and in eastern Afghanistan, leading the United States last year to double its troop presence along more than 600 miles of frontier.

    Recent high-level talks among the three countries have called for more intelligence-sharing and coordinated operations along the border. Last Saturday, the first of six new border coordination centers -- with officers from the three nations -- opened at Torkham at the Khyber Pass, a "giant step" forward, said Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, the top U.S. commander in eastern Afghanistan.

    But despite such efforts, front-line commanders such as Hammonds still grapple with key obstacles -- including unreliable Afghan and Pakistani soldiers, ambivalent villagers, and even disputes over where the true border lies. Commanders said they need at least 50 percent more U.S. troops and more reconstruction money. At current levels, they said, it will take at least five years to quell insurgent attacks, which increased nearly 40 percent in eastern Afghanistan last year, including a 22 percent rise in attacks along the border.

    "This combat outpost will get attacked within the next week or so, with rockets or small-arms fire," said Hammonds, commander of Attack Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. "They can't stand that we are in this location."

    The U.S. outpost -- which Hammonds and his forces set up a month ago in an insurgent safe house nicknamed the "Taliban Hotel" -- is part of an effort to stem the flow of fighters moving along routes from Pakistan's North and South Waziristan and other Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

    Collaboration is growing between Taliban commanders in Afghanistan such as Haqqani, who has tribal roots in Paktika province, and Pakistanis such as Baitullah Mehsud, a commander in South Waziristan who is reorganizing the Taliban with help from agents in Pakistan's intelligence service, according to U.S. military officials. Mehsud, the CIA has said, is responsible for the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December.

    Taliban fighters and facilitators plan and resupply in Waziristan towns and then move across the border to launch attacks as far inside Afghanistan as Kabul. Overall attacks in eastern Paktika province rose about 30 percent last year, and have more than quadrupled since 2003, according to military data. Attacks by improvised explosive devices have risen tenfold since 2003, and suicide bombings, unseen before 2006, numbered seven last year.

    "The threat of suicide-borne IEDs and IEDs are everywhere. It's far more significant than in the past," said Lt. Col. Michael Fenzel, commander of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Roadside bombs killed 10 of the battalion's 12 soldiers lost since May. The insurgents "have an IED division, a suicide-bombing division, and everything else supports those two things," he said.

    Throughout last fall and winter, Fenzel's battalion conducted operations in eastern Paktika and southern Khowst province to establish closer ties with villagers and to help block the influx of fighters with the spring thaw. His troops are building several outposts, already pushing the fighting closer to the border and away from populated areas.

    A new outpost two miles from Afghanistan's border with South Waziristan has drawn a large volume of mortars, rockets and small-arms fire away from a base in a large town farther inland. On the night of Nov. 24, Capt. Rob McChrystal recalled, he and his infantry company were manning the outpost when scores of Taliban converged on them. McChrystal, of Charleston, S.C., said he waited until the insurgents came within 200 yards before he attacked with artillery and aircraft fire.

    "I expect a lot more of the same this spring," he said. "They'll attempt another direct-fire attack because the [outpost] is a thorn in their side."

    In the latest operation, in the Kowchun Valley just north of Paktika, Hammonds's company staked out a position above a narrow streambed that snakes through a gorge into North Waziristan, the scene of dozens of firefights between U.S. troops and the Taliban. From his base, Hammonds can see for miles into Pakistan. Haqqani "is extremely upset and can't get anything through," said Fenzel, citing U.S. intelligence.

    But because of a shortage of U.S. troops, Hammonds's company can stay in the area only for several weeks. He doubts that Afghan and Pakistani soldiers will be able to control the route once he leaves.

    "You're in the middle of an ANA mutiny," Hammonds said one afternoon, referring to the Afghan National Army, as Afghan soldiers from the 203rd Battalion piled into pickup trucks and quit the camp. The Afghans left after learning that the operation, originally to last nine days, would continue for weeks. The exodus underscored Hammonds's belief that Afghan army units cannot guard the border because they rotate every three to six months and they lack enough local knowledge. "The key to securing the border is to remove the ANA completely," he said.

    Instead, Hammonds favors the Afghan border police, but eastern Paktika now has only 66 percent of its 857 authorized border police officers and, until December, they were led by a corrupt commander who colluded with the Taliban.

    A greater frustration, he and other U.S. troops said, is that they cannot trust their Pakistani counterparts. "The Pakistan military is corrupt and lets people come through," Hammonds said. Pakistani forces reportedly told insurgents the location of his observation post, and when U.S. troops in a firefight call the Pakistani military for help, he said, "they never answer the phone."

    Pakistan's Frontier Corps, which mans several border checkpoints, is viewed as nearly an enemy force. "The Frontier Corps might as well be Taliban. . . . They are active facilitators of infiltration," said a U.S. soldier who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons.

    Last May, after Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr. of the 82nd Airborne Division attended a meeting to ease frictions between Afghan and Pakistani forces in the Pakistani frontier town of Teri Mengel, he was shot dead by a Frontier Corps guard, military officials said. The U.S. military in Pakistan is funding a multimillion-dollar program to train and equip the Frontier Corps.

    U.S. troops face a mixed reception as they offer aid and seek intelligence from local villagers. In the town of Potsmillah, residents spat at Hammonds's soldiers, while in Sra Kunda, they accepted shoes, prayer rugs and offers of a new porch for their mosque.

    But in the Kowchun Valley, where there are few roads and no electricity or schools, villagers are loyal to their tribes, which straddle the border. Sra Kunda's 50 families survive by gathering wood and selling it in Pakistan, or tending meager plots of rain-watered wheat. Residents keep Pakistani time on their watches, use Pakistani rupees and frequent markets across the border. "We don't know whether we're from Pakistan or Afghanistan," said Nakib Balibi, 18. "So we just go on Pakistan time."

  7. #7

    "Summary: The alarming growth of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pashtun tribal region of north-western Pakistan and southern Afghanistan is usually attributed to the popularity of their messianic brand of Islam and to covert help from Pakistani intelligence agencies. But another, more ominous, reason also explains their success: their symbiotic relationship with a simmering Pashtun separatist movement that could lead to the unification of the estimated 41 million Pashtuns on both sides of the border, the break-up of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the emergence of a new national entity, an ‘Islamic Pashtunistan’.

    This ARI examines the Pashtun claim for an independent territory, the historical and political roots of the Pashtun identity, the implications for the NATO- or Pakistani-led military operations in the area, the increasing co-operation between Pashtun nationalist and Islamist forces against Punjabi domination and the reasons why the Pashtunistan movement, long dormant, is slowly coming to life."

    It would be outstanding if Pakistan disintegrated, provided the nukes are accounted for. Even better if India steps in to finish off the wreckage as a preventive measure.

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