Tag Archive: Pakistan


Pakistan denies army major’s arrest for CIA links

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110615/ap_on_re_mi_ea/cia_pakistan_arrests

By MUNIR AHMED and KIMBERLY DOZIER, Associated Press        Munir Ahmed And Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press–    40 mins ago

ISLAMABAD – The Pakistani army denied Wednesday that one of its majors was among a group of Pakistanis who Western officials say were arrested for feeding the CIA information before the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The New York Times, which first reported the arrests of five Pakistani informants Tuesday, said an army major was detained who copied license plates of cars visiting the al-Qaida chief’s compound in Pakistan in the weeks before the raid.

A Western official in Pakistan confirmed that five Pakistanis who fed information to the CIA before the May 2 operation were arrested by Pakistan’s top intelligence service.

But Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas denied an army major was arrested, saying the report was “false and totally baseless.” Neither the army nor Pakistan’s spy agency would confirm or deny the overall report about the detentions.

Noor Bibi

 

The group of detained Pakistanis included the owner of a safe house rented to the CIA to observe bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, an army town not far from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, a U.S. official said. The owner was detained along with a “handful” of other Pakistanis, said the official.

The Western officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters.

The fate of the purported CIA informants who were arrested was unclear, but American officials told the Times that CIA Director Leon Panetta raised the issue when he visited Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers.

U.S.-Pakistani relations have been strained over the raid by Navy SEALs on Pakistani territory, which embarrassed Pakistan’s military, and other issues.

One of the issues that has caused tension between the two countries is U.S. drone missile strikes targeting militants in Pakistan’s tribal region near the Afghan border.

Three attacks on Wednesday targeted suspected militant compounds and a vehicles in south and north Waziristan tribal areas, killing at least 15 alleged insurgents, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Pakistani officials often denounce the strikes in public, even though many are believed to support them in private. That support has been strained in the wake of the bin Laden raid, especially since the strikes are unpopular with the Pakistani public.

Officials said the arrests of the suspected informants was just the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the two nations.

The Times said that at a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael Morell, the deputy CIA director, to rate Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations, on a scale of 1 to 10.

“Three,” Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange, the newspaper said.

American officials speaking to the Times cautioned that Morell’s comment was a snapshot of the current relationship and did not represent the Obama administration’s overall assessment.

“We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise,” Marie Harf, a CIA spokeswoman, told the newspaper. “Director Panetta had productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It’s a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs.”

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview with the Times that the CIA and the Pakistani spy agency “are working out mutually acceptable terms for their cooperation in fighting the menace of terrorism. It is not appropriate for us to get into the details at this stage.”

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Dozier reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

 

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Pakistani troops retake naval base from militants

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110523/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan

Fire and smoke rises from a Pakistani naval aviation base, following an attack by militants in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, May 22, 2011. Militants atta

By ADIL JAWAD, Associated Press Adil Jawad, Associated Press 2 hrs 29 mins ago

KARACHI, Pakistan – Pakistani commandos regained control of a naval base Monday from a team of Taliban militants who attacked then occupied the high-security facility for 18 hours — an exceptionally audacious act of insurgent violence that dealt a humiliating blow to the military.

The attackers — thought to number around six — destroyed at least two U.S.-supplied surveillance planes and killed 10 security officers, officials said. At least four of the attackers were killed, and two others may have escaped, said Pakistan Navy chief Nauman Bashir.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault in the city of Karachi. The militants said it was revenge for the May 2 American raid that killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, and the insurgents were under orders to fight until the death.

“They do not want to come out alive, they have gone there to embrace martyrdom,” said spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan.

The insurgent team armed with grenades, rockets and automatic weapons stormed Naval Station Mehran under cover of darkness late Sunday, using ladders and cutting the wire to get into the facility, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said.

Once inside, they scattered around the compound, setting off explosions and hiding in the sprawling facility.

During the day Monday, the militants were holed up in an office building in a gunbattle with commandos, navy spokesman Irfan ul Haq said. Navy helicopters flew over the base, and snipers were seen on a runway control tower.

By the afternoon, Haq said the militants had been defeated. “Thanks be to God, the base is cleared and the operation is over,” he said. Commandos leaving the complex flashed victory signs to reporters.

Malik said he saw some of the bodies of the attackers, even showing a picture of one lying bloodied on the grass that he took with his cell phone. He said the were dressed in black and looked “like the Star Wars characters.”

Six Americans and 11 Chinese aviation engineers were on the base but escaped unharmed, he said.

The insurgents’ ability to penetrate the facility rattled a military establishment already embarrassed by the unilateral American raid on bin Laden and raised the possibility they had inside help.

It will also likely lead to more questions over the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. In 2009, Islamist terrorists stormed army headquarters close to the capital, holding hostages for 22 hours. But unlike the attack Sunday in Karachi, the attackers then failed to deeply penetrate the complex.

The unilateral U.S. raid on bin Laden’s compound in the northwest Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad has triggered a strong backlash against Washington, as well as rare domestic criticism of the armed forces for failing to detect or prevent the American operation. Pakistani leaders insist they had no idea the al-Qaida boss had been hiding in Abbottabad.

This is the third major attack the group has claimed since the bin Laden killing. The others were a car bombing that slightly injured American consulate workers in the northwest city of Peshawar and a twin suicide attack that killed around 90 Pakistani paramilitary police recruits.

At least two P-3C Orions, maritime surveillance aircraft given to Pakistan by the U.S., were destroyed, he said. The U.S. Navy puts the cost of the planes at $36 million each.

The United States handed over two Orions to the Pakistani navy at a ceremony at the base in June 2010 attended by 250 Pakistani and American officials, according to the website of the U.S. Central Command. It said by late 2012, Pakistan would have eight of the planes.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said the Americans were working as contractors to help support the P-3C aircraft but did not report to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Four of them were part of a Lockheed Martin contract engineering and technical support team, he said.

Karachi, a city of around 18 million people, has not been spared the violence sweeping the country, despite being in the south and far from the northwest where militancy is at its strongest. In April, militants bombed three buses taking navy employees to work, killing at least nine people.

The Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups have little direct public support, but the army and the government have struggled to convince the people of the need for armed operations against them. The militants’ identification with Islam, strong anti-American rhetoric and support for insurgents in Afghanistan resonates with some in the country.

Also Monday, Pakistani intelligence officials said a pair of suspected U.S. missiles hit a vehicle and killed four people near the Afghan border. It was the latest in an uptick of strikes following the bin Laden raid.

The attack occurred in Machi Khel area in North Waziristan, a tribal region home to several militant groups attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The U.S. relies heavily on missile strikes to target foes in Pakistan. Pakistan objects to the attacks publicly, but is believed to support them in private.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. They said they did not know the identities of the people killed.

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Associated Press writers Ishtiaq Mahsud and Rasool Dawar in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.

US, Pakistan will cooperate on high value targets

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110516/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_bin_laden

 54 mins ago

ISLAMABAD – According to a joint statement, the U.S. and Pakistan have agreed to work together in any future actions against “high value targets” in Pakistan.

The two countries made the announcement Monday following a visit by U.S. Sen. John Kerry to Islamabad. Kerry is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Relations between the two countries have been badly strained following the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.

U.S. officials have said they didn’t tell Pakistan about the operation before it happened, because they were worried bin Laden might be tipped off.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Kerry says he and Pakistani leaders have agreed on a “series of steps” to improve their nations’ fraying ties.

The senator did not specify what those steps are but he says they will “be implemented immediately in order to get this relationship back on track.”

Kerry was in Pakistan on Monday amid high tensions over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in the South Asian country’s northwest.

Pakistan says the raid violated its sovereignty.

Kerry insists the secrecy surrounding the May 2 raid on bin Laden was crucial to assuring its success, and that he himself did not learn of it until afterward.

Pakistan suicide bombs kill 80 to avenge bin Laden

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110513/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Riaz Khan, Associated Press 44 mins ago

HABQADAR, Pakistan – A pair of Taliban suicide bombers attacked paramilitary police recruits eagerly heading home for a break after months of training, killing 80 people Friday in the first act of retaliation for the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

In claiming responsibility, the al-Qaida linked militant group cited anger at Pakistan’s military for failing to stop the American incursion on their soil.

The blasts in the northwest were a reminder of the savagery of Islamist insurgents in Pakistan. Tensions also have risen between the U.S. and Islamabad over allegations that some elements of Pakistani security forces had been harboring bin Laden, who died in a May 2 raid in Abbottabad, a garrison town about three hours’ drive from the scene of the bombing.

“We have done this to avenge the Abbottabad incident,” Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, told The Associated Press in a phone call. He warned that the group was also planning attacks on Americans living inside Pakistan.

The bombers blew themselves up in Shabqadar at the main gate of the facility for the Frontier Constabulary, a poorly equipped but front-line force in the battle against al-Qaida and allied Islamist groups like the Pakistani Taliban close to the Afghan border. Like other branches of Pakistan’s security forces, it has received U.S. funding to try to sharpen its skills.

At least 80 people were killed, including 66 recruits, and around 120 people were wounded, said police officer Liaqat Ali Khan.

Around 900 young men were leaving the center after spending six months of training there. They were in high spirits and looking forward to seeing their families, for which some had brought gifts, a survivor said.

Some people were sitting inside public minivans and others were loading luggage atop the vehicles when the bombers struck, witnesses said.

“We were heading toward a van when the first blast took place and we fell on the ground and then there was another blast,” said 21-year-old Rehmanullah Khan. “We enjoyed our time together, all the good and bad weather and I cannot forget the cries of my friends before they died.”

The scene was littered with shards of glass mixed with blood and flesh. The explosions destroyed at least 10 vans.

It was the first major militant attack in Pakistan since bin Laden’s death on May 2, and the deadliest this year.

Militants had pledged to avenge the killing and launch reprisal strikes in Pakistan.

The Taliban spokesman suggested the attack was aimed as punishment against Pakistani authorities for failing to stop the unilateral U.S. raid that killed bin Laden, something that has sparked popular nationalist and Islamist anger.

“The Pakistani army has failed to protect its land,” Ahsan said.

In its communications, the Taliban often tries to tap into popular sentiments in the country, where anti-Americanism is often stronger than feelings against Islamist militants. This is despite militant attacks over the last four years claiming the lives of many hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians.

Some 350 lawyers sympathetic with Islamists attended special prayers for bin Laden on the premises of the provincial high court in the eastern city of Lahore on Friday. The lawyers cursed the May 2 raid, chanting “Down with America.”

The explosive vests used in Friday’s attacks were packed with ball bearings and nails, police said.

Police official Nisar Khan said a suicide bomber in his late teens or early 20s set off one of the blasts.

“The first blast occurred in the middle of the road, and after that there was a huge blast that was more powerful than the first,” said Abdul Wahid, a 25-year-old recruit whose legs were wounded in the blasts.

Bin Laden, the Sept. 11 mastermind, and at least four others were killed by U.S. Navy SEALs who raided his compound in Abbottabad. Bin Laden is believed to have lived in the large house for up to six years.

Pakistani officials have denied knowing he was there but criticized the U.S. raid ordered by President Barack Obama as a violation of their country’s sovereignty. To counter allegations that Pakistan harbored bin Laden, the officials point out that thousands of Pakistani citizens, and up to 3,000 of its security forces, have died in suicide and other attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, when Islamabad became an ally of the U.S. in taking on Islamist extremists.

Many of the attacks have targeted Pakistani security forces, but government buildings, religious minorities and Western targets also have been hit.

Pakistan’s intelligence chief, Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, admitted “negligence” on the part of authorities in failing to find bin Laden during a closed session in Parliament on Friday, a government spokeswoman told reporters. Military officials, including the powerful army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said they would improve the country’s air defenses, which did not detect the high-tech U.S. choppers used in the raid.

The military leaders also assured lawmakers that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals are safe and that the armed forces were capable of defending the country, said Firdous Ashiq Awan, the federal information minister.

In another development Friday, Pakistani intelligence officials said a U.S. missile strike killed three people near the Afghan border.

The four missiles struck a vehicle in the Doga Madakhel village of North Waziristan tribal region. North Waziristan is home to many militant groups dedicated to attacking Western troops in Afghanistan.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media. They did not know the identities of the dead.

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Associated Press writers Ashraf Khan and Deb Riechmann in Islamabad, Babar Dogar in Lahore and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.

Pakistan government skipping chance to weaken army

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110511/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_bin_laden_political_fallout

By NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Nahal Toosi, Associated Press Wed May 11, 7:06 am ET

ISLAMABAD – The U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden gave Pakistan’s weak civilian government a rare chance to wrest some power away from an influential military establishment that suddenly faced unusual public criticism over its failure to detect the al-Qaida leader and prevent the foreign incursion.

Instead, the ruling party is defending the army and allowing it to investigate its own intelligence fiasco, undermining the notion that Pakistan’s elected leaders will ever be able to assert their full authority in a country prone to military coups. The civilians’ timidity doesn’t bode well for U.S. and Pakistani hopes that the nuclear-armed nation will evolve into a stable democracy.

“The civilian-military imbalance is the greatest threat to Pakistani democracy. It is also the issue the civilian politicians are least capable of tackling,” said Cyril Almeida, a prominent Pakistani commentator.

It’s not easy for the ruling Pakistan People’s Party to take on the army, even as the military brass reel from the humiliation of the U.S. raid.

The May 2 Navy SEALs operation in Abbottabad left bin Laden and at least four others dead, giving the U.S. a huge victory against al-Qaida. Pakistan’s military said it had no warning of the raid, disappointing many citizens, some of whom said the army and intelligence chiefs should resign.

The popular uproar was extraordinary in a country where many live in fear of the security forces.

But the civilian government itself is deeply unpopular. It is generally regarded as less competent than — and at least as corrupt as — the military. Its failure to address the pressing problems in Pakistan — a struggling economy, chronic power shortages, deteriorating security — has disillusioned many Pakistanis who were thrilled to see it take power three years ago after nearly a decade of military rule.

At this point, the government’s sole focus appears to be surviving for a full five-year term. That would be a historic achievement for a democratically elected government in the nation’s 63 years of existence, but one which apparently has left the current administration too nervous to challenge the generals.

The wariness showed in the changing messages that have emanated from Islamabad since the raid on bin Laden’s compound north of the capital. At first, the country’s civilian leaders declared bin Laden’s killing a great victory. But within days, the Foreign Ministry had issued a statement that slammed the U.S. for violating Pakistan’s sovereignty and warned against any future raids. The army issued a similar warning.

At the same time, the military appeared to launch a subtle campaign to shift the blame to the civilians.

Former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a People’s Party member who has tangled with the party leadership and is believed to be close to the military, publicly called on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to resign. That raised many eyebrows considering Gilani and Zardari have essentially no control over security issues, and have ceded to the army much of the country’s foreign policy as well.

On Monday, Gilani addressed Pakistan’s parliament in a speech that appeared heavily influenced by the military and the army-run spy network. Although he said bin Laden’s death was “indeed justice done,” he also heaped praise on his nation’s armed forces and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency. He said “all the intelligence agencies of the world” failed in allowing bin Laden to hide in a garrison town Pakistan.

Instead of appointing an independent, or at least civilian-led, panel to probe the debacle, he said the military would handle the investigation.

That drew criticism from some Pakistanis, who noted that the military does not have much of a history of holding its leadership accountable for mistakes.

For instance, in 1999, then-army chief Pervez Musharraf masterminded an operation at Kargil, a Pakistani push into the Indian-held part of Kashmir. The offensive nearly brought the nuclear-armed neighbors to war, but Musharraf kept his job, and later that year ousted the civilian government.

“The history of heads rolling and the history of people being held to account is not a very bright one in Pakistan,” said Ayaz Amir, an opposition lawmaker.

Some were hoping Gilani would push for a rethink of Pakistan’s entire security policy, which many critics say is too focused on archrival India instead of the threat from Islamist insurgents threatening the Pakistani state. Pakistan’s army has fought three wars with India, including one in 1971 that saw Pakistan’s eastern flank break off and become Bangladesh.

“Gilani did not take this opportunity to launch a kind of transformation or sort of commission that this country desperately requires,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, a Pakistani columnist. “So I think Pakistanis, in general, continue to be confused and continue to want real answers instead of rhetoric.”

In many ways, the most frustrating thing for many Pakistanis is watching the one institution that seemed all-powerful in their downtrodden, struggling country, be so spectacularly hoodwinked by the United States. But it’s also tough to watch the men and women they elect flounder.

“The common man is really pissed off. They’ve lost faith,” said Khawaja Asif, an opposition lawmaker. “You can’t imagine how sad they are feeling.”

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Nahal Toosi can be reached at http://twitter.com/nahaltoosi. Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

Mullah Omarhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110504/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – Osama bin Laden’s death is likely to revive a debate within the Afghan Taliban about their ties to al-Qaida — a union the U.S. insists must end if the insurgents want to talk peace.

The foundation of their relationship is believed to be rooted in bin Laden’s long friendship with the Taliban’s reclusive one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, who might now find it more palatable to break with al-Qaida and negotiate a settlement to the war. Much may depend on the newly chastened power-broker next door: Pakistan.

“I think now is an opportunity for the Taliban to end their relations with al-Qaida,” said Waheed Muzhda, a Kabul-based analyst and former foreign ministry official under the Taliban regime that was toppled in late 2001.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, said it was too early to comment.

But the death of the world’s top terrorist gives momentum toward finding a political solution to the nearly decade-long war, according to analysts familiar with U.S. officials’ stepped-up effort this year to push a peace agenda.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration have said they will negotiate with any member of the Taliban who embraces the Afghan constitution, renounces violence and severs ties with al-Qaida. Informal contacts have been made in recent months with high-ranking Taliban figures, but no formal peace talks are under way.

The possible opportunity comes just as the spring fighting season is kicking into gear. The U.S.-led coalition hopes to hold ground in southern Afghanistan gained as a result of the addition last year of an extra 30,000 American troops. The Taliban’s goal remains undermining the Afghan government, discrediting its security forces and driving the nearly 100,000 U.S. troops and other foreign forces out of the country.

Even before bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs at a compound in Pakistan on Monday, the links between the al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban had weakened during the 10 years since the Sept. 11 attacks, Muzhda said. Mullah Omar’s refusal to hand over bin Laden after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon prompted the U.S.-led assault on Afghanistan that ousted the Taliban from power. By siding with bin Laden, Mullah Omar’s hardline regime lost control of the nation.

The goals of the two movements are not closely aligned. While al-Qaida is focused on worldwide jihad against the West and establishment of a religious superstate in the Muslim world, the Afghan Taliban have focused on their own country and have shown little to no interest in attacking targets outside Afghanistan. The car bombing in May 2010 in New York’s Times Square was linked to the Pakistani Taliban — an autonomous group on the other side of the border.

But breaking with al-Qaida would mean forgoing some reliable funding channels in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Syria, according to a Western intelligence officer. Mullah Omar’s association with bin Laden also gave him clout, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.

Al-Qaida shares its technical expertise in explosives and helps the Taliban traffic narcotics made with opium poppies grown in Afghanistan, he said. For their part, the Taliban allow al-Qaida to come into Afghanistan on the backs of Taliban fighters.

Still, some members of the Taliban’s top leadership council have grown uncomfortable with al-Qaida, and a vocal minority want to distance themselves from the mostly Arab terrorist network, he said.

There are also cultural differences. Al-Qaida has viewed the Taliban as more backward, “kinda like West Virginia mountain folk — unrefined, uneducated,” the officer said.

And “the older generation of Taliban leaders had long ago become fed up with the arrogance of Arab jihadists,” Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid wrote Monday in a column in the Financial Times.

Two other issues, according to the intelligence officer, could affect the Taliban’s internal debate about al-Qaida. While Bin Laden had personal connections to Taliban leaders, the man expected to replace him, Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri, is a less charismatic, unifying figure. And top Taliban leaders now know that the U.S. might hunt them down in Pakistan even without the cooperation or knowledge of the Pakistani military — as was done with bin Laden.

In June 2010, CIA Director Leon Panetta estimated that there were probably only 50 to 100 al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan — that most of the terrorist network was, without question, operating from the western tribal region of Pakistan. Last month, Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said that while some al-Qaida fighters have been searching for hide-outs in rugged areas of eastern Afghanistan, he did not think they were making a comeback inside the country.

Abu Hafs al-Najdi — a senior al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan and the coalition’s No. 2 overall targeted insurgent in the country — was killed in an April 13 airstrike in Kunar province, a hotbed of the insurgency in the northeast. In the past several weeks, coalition forces reported killing more than 25 al-Qaida leaders and fighters.

While the military offensive continues, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently that the United States had accelerated a diplomatic push to craft a political solution to the war. Marc Grossman, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan who is heading up the effort, met with Afghanistan and Pakistan officials on Tuesday in Islamabad and agreed to set up a so-called Core Group for promoting the Afghan-led reconciliation effort.

With little known about the secret inner workings of the Afghan Taliban’s governing council, called the Quetta Shura, analysts can only speculate about the group’s plans.

“The killing of bin Laden might motivate them to sever their ties,” said Brian Katulis, of the Washington-based think-tank Center for American Progress. “I think the signal that the Quetta Shura and others are getting from people in Pakistan in the security services will be key.”

The U.S. has accused Pakistan’s military-run spy service of maintaining links with the Haqqani network, which is affiliated with the Afghan Taliban and closely aligned with al-Qaida. Pointedly, the Americans did not inform Pakistan about Monday’s helicopter raid that killed bin Laden until it was over.

That bin Laden’s hideout turned out to be a three-story home a short drive from the capital, Islamabad, and close to various Pakistani army regiments has raised suspicions in Washington that the Pakistanis may have been sheltering him. For years, Western intelligence had said bin Laden was most likely holed up in a cave along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

The Pakistani government has denied suggestions that its security forces knew bin Laden was there. Pakistani officials have long argued that they have done their part in the fight against militants and denounce allegations that they are backing insurgents.

“The raid was obviously deeply embarrassing for the Pakistanis,” Katulis said. “They could either redouble their efforts to try to cooperate more closely with the U.S. or they can continue to play their passive-aggressive game.”

Don’t expect a near-term divorce with al-Qaida, said Michael Wahid Hanna, an analyst with The Century Foundation, a New York-based think tank.

“It makes no sense for the Taliban to concede this point on the front end — without receiving any commensurate concession from the other side,” Hanna said. “Some of the Taliban I have spoken to have made the point that as long as the military fight escalates, they will cooperate with other forces who are willing to assist them in their fight against the U.S.-led coalition. They portray any pre-emptive severing of ties as a type of unilateral, partial disarmament.”

Seth Jones, a RAND Corp. political scientist who advised the commander of U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, said he suspects “the Taliban would interpret cutting ties with al-Qaida as kowtowing to the Americans.”

Jones said that while the Taliban don’t need al-Qaida to operate, they still retain ties with al-Qaida’s senior leaders as they have for decades.

Former Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Abdul Hadi Khalid said some members of the Taliban want to split with al-Qaida. The fighting spirit of the Taliban has been dampened by recent brutal attacks around the country that killed scores of Afghan civilians — attacks he suspects were inspired by al-Qaida.

These Taliban members “feel they are going the wrong way,” Khalid said.

However, Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half brother of the Afghan president, said top Taliban leaders directing the insurgency remain very closely associated with al-Qaida. Al-Qaida still helps train Taliban fighters, and foreign fighters aligned with al-Qaida continue to fight side-by-side with Taliban foot soldiers, he said.

“I don’t know how they will be able to distance themselves,” Karzai said.

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Associated Press Writers Heidi Vogt, Solomon Moore and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.

New York City police officers stand guard outside the Armed Forces recruitment center in New York's Times Square,  Monday, May 2, 2011. The Obama admihttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110502/ap_on_re_us/us_bin_laden_dna

By ROBERT BURNS and CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Robert Burns And Calvin Woodward, Associated Press 45 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Knowing there would be disbelievers, the U.S. says it used convincing means to confirm Osama bin Laden’s identity during and after the firefight that killed him. But the mystique that surrounded the terrorist chieftain in life is persisting in death.

Was it really him? How do we know? Where are the pictures?

Already, those questions are spreading in Pakistan and surely beyond. In the absence of photos and with his body given up to the sea, many people don’t want to believe that bin Laden — the Great Emir to some, the fabled escape artist of the Tora Bora mountains to foe and friend alike — is really dead.

U.S. officials are balancing that skepticism with the sensitivities that might be inflamed by showing images they say they have of the dead al-Qaida leader and video of his burial at sea. Still, it appeared likely that photographic evidence would be produced.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden,” John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said Monday. He said the U.S. will “share what we can because we want to make sure that not only the American people but the world understand exactly what happened.”

In July 2009, the U.S. took heat but also quieted most conspiracy theorists by releasing graphic photos of the corpses of Saddam Hussein’s two powerful sons to prove American forces had killed them.

So far, the U.S. has cited evidence that satisfied the Navy SEAL force, and at least most of the world, that they had the right man in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The helicopter-borne raiding squad that swarmed the luxury compound identified bin Laden by appearance. A woman in the compound who was identified as his wife was said to have called out bin Laden’s name in the melee.

Officials produced a quick DNA match from his remains that they said established bin Laden’s identity, even absent the other techniques, with 99.9 percent certainty. U.S. officials also said bin Laden was identified through photo comparisons and other methods.

Tellingly, an al-Qaida spokesman, in vowing vengeance against America, called him a martyr, offering no challenge to the U.S. account of his death.

Even so, it’s almost inevitable that the bin Laden mythology will not end with the bullet in his head. If it suits extremist ends to spin a fantastical tale of survival or trickery to gullible ears, expect to hear it.

In the immediate aftermath, people in Abbottabad expressed widespread disbelief that bin Laden had died — or ever lived — among them.

“I’m not ready to buy bin Laden was here,” said Haris Rasheed, 22, who works in a fast food restaurant. “How come no one knew he was here and why did they bury him so quickly? This is all fake — a drama, and a crude one.”

Kamal Khan, 25, who is unemployed, said the official story “looks fishy to me.”

The burial from an aircraft carrier in the North Arabian Sea was videotaped aboard the ship, according to a senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because a decision on whether to release the video was not final. The official said it was highly likely that the video, along with photographs of bin Laden’s body, would be made public in coming days.

The swiftness of the burial may have raised suspicions but was in accord with Islamic traditions. Islamic scholars, however, challenged U.S. assertions that a burial at sea was an appropriate fate for a Muslim who had died on land.

The act denied al-Qaida any sort of burial shrine for their slain leader. Once again, bin Laden had vanished, but this time at the hands of the United States and in a way that ensures he is gone forever.

If that satisfies U.S. goals and its sense of justice, Brad Sagarin, a psychologist at Northern Illinois University who studies persuasion, said the rapid disposition of the body “would certainly be a rich sort of kernel for somebody to grasp onto if they were motivated to disbelieve this.”

Also expected to come out is a tape made by bin Laden, before U.S. forces bore down on him, that may provide fodder to those who insist he is alive.

Pakistan, for one, is a land of conspiracy theorists, and far-fetched rumors abound on the streets and in blogs throughout the Arab world. But that’s not just a characteristic of the Islamic pipeline. Many ordinary Americans — and one billionaire — persistently questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S. despite lacking any evidence that he wasn’t.

Sagarin said most people will probably be convinced bin Laden is dead because they cannot imagine the government maintaining such an extraordinary lie to the contrary in this day and age.

Yet, he said, “as with the birther conspiracy, there’s going to be a set of people who are never going to be convinced. People filter the information they receive through their current attitudes, their current perspectives.”

To be sure, even photos and video, subject to digital manipulation, may not provide the final word to everyone. But Seth Jones, a RAND Corp. political scientist who advised the commander of U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, said the administration should do all it can to minimize doubts.

“There are always conspiracy theories,” he said. “There are individuals who believe that bin Laden wasn’t involved in the 9/11 attacks.”

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Associated Press writers Nahal Toosi in Abbottabad, Pakistan; Malcolm Ritter in New York; and Lolita C. Baldor, Ben Feller, Matt Apuzzo and Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110502/wl_nm/us_binladen_iraq

By Waleed Ibrahim and Suadad al-Salhy Waleed Ibrahim And Suadad Al-salhy 45 mins ago

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s army and police went on high alert on Monday for possible revenge attacks in one of al Qaeda’s major battlegrounds after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his Pakistan hideout.

Oil infrastructure, power stations and bridges could be targets of militant attacks, security sources said, to prove bin Laden’s death has not disrupted operations in Iraq, still an important arena for the Islamist group eight years after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Former President George W. Bush referred to Iraq as part of the U.S. “war on terror” although no link was found between Saddam’s regime and the September 11 attacks. It became a battlefield for al Qaeda after the invasion.

Iraqi and U.S. forces have scored big victories against al Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate but the Sunni Islamist insurgency remains lethal and carries out dozens of attacks each month.

“We have issued orders to intensify security measures in the street,” said Major-General Hassan al-Baidhani of the Baghdad operations command. “We 100 percent expect attacks.”

The Iraqi government welcomed the news of bin Laden’s death.

“The Iraqi government is feeling greatly relieved over the killing of Osama bin Laden, who was the planner and director behind the killing of many Iraqis and destroying the country,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

“VIOLENT REACTION” POSSIBLE

The U.S. military still has about 47,000 troops in Iraq.

“We recognize that the death of bin Laden may result in a violent reaction from al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist organisations that loosely affiliate with the al Qaeda network,” U.S. military spokesman Colonel Barry Johnson said. He would not comment on any changes in operations as a result of the death.

Iraqi security sources said they had received intelligence that al Qaeda would carry out reprisal attacks and that markets, religious shrines and infrastructure could be hit.

“We are expecting that they will attack vital targets like oil institutions, electricity stations and bridges in Baghdad, Basra and the middle Euphrates areas,” a senior anti-terrorism officer said. Oilfields, pipelines and terminals are critical to Iraq’s plans to become a major world producer and to rebuild after decades of dictatorship, war and economic sanctions.

U.S. military officials say counter-terrorism operations have severely degraded al Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate and damaged its communications with al Qaeda figures abroad. Leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were killed in April 2010.

But military commanders still point to al Qaeda for many of the scores of attacks each month, including a bloody siege in late March in Saddam’s hometown, Tikrit, where 58 people were killed, and an attack on a Baghdad cathedral last October.

John Drake, a risk consultant with U.K.-based security firm AKE, said bin Laden’s death would not reduce attacks in Iraq.

“While it still receives foreign funding and foreign recruits, a lot of the planning and execution of attacks is by Iraqi nationals operating independently, but still drawing inspiration from the global al Qaeda movement,” he said.

War-weary Iraqis appeared to welcome the news.

“In my life, I have never seen a criminal like this person (bin Laden), who took the religion of Islam to serve his own purpose,” said Ibrahim Ali Hamdi, 68, a farmer who lost a son to al Qaeda in 2006.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110502/wl_time/08599206889300

By BRUCE CRUMLEY / PARIS Bruce Crumley / Paris 51 mins ago

The dramatic announcement of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s May 1 death came too late for most Europeans to hear about it in real time. But by the earliest hours of Monday morning, both regular citizens and the officials in Europe tasked with protecting them from terror strikes were in full debate about how Bin Laden’s killing might change the activity and determination of jihadists plotting to strike around the globe.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most experts say the charismatic leader’s death represents a symbolic blow to all extremists who looked up to him – and presents surviving al-Qaeda officials in the Afghan-Pakistan region with a real challenge regarding how they’ll operate in his absence. But analysts add it probably won’t change the mechanics of the Islamist terror threatening the world these days. (See TIME’s obit on bin Laden.)

“It’s likely to have the greatest direct impact in the upper echelons of al-Qaeda’s command, which in turn will create even more problems for its leaders to mount very spectacular, complex, and well-organized attacks around the world as a follow-up to 9/11,” says one European security official who works closely with intelligence agencies. “But the vast majority of plots or strikes we see in the world [these days] are the kind carried out by small cells of local operatives, whose contacts with al-Qaeda [in the Pakistani border region] are minimal – usually with medium-level figures, if at all. Bin Laden’s death may have a short-term emotional impact on those far-flung extremists, but that won’t alter the way they function.”

A French counter-terrorism official concurs. “Bin Laden was most effective in projecting the distinct al-Qaeda ideology, and assembling disparate radicals around what extremists consider his unique moral authority,” he comments. “That’s gone now, and with it the personal dedication with which jihadist organizations around the world swore their allegiance. None of those will turn their backs on al-Qaeda or stop using terrorism as the main arm in their international struggle. But there is no single leader they’ll all look up and dedicate their efforts to, which represents a real change.” (See “Remembering 9/11: The Evolution of Ground Zero.”)

Yet this official says that’s a largely symbolic and psychological factor. He notes al-Qaeda was never as structured and centralized as many people once believed. The functioning of its followers and sympathizers around the globe – and particularly in Europe – has become increasingly autonomous, especially since the NATO-led military operation forced al-Qaeda’s leadership out of its former Afghan haven for refuge in Pakistan. Within recent years, experts say, the standard terror cell in Europe has evolved to become smaller, often self-constituted, and usually gets minimal advice or direction from mentors in Southeast Asia. In some cases, a single cell member may have gotten all the training and instruction required during a visit to Pakistan, and relies on that to mount plots over time after he’s returned.

That appears to be the case with a trio of suspects apprehended in Germany April 29 as they were allegedly preparing to test homemade explosives for a planned attack. The three men – one of whom reportedly received training last year in an al-Qaeda camp in Pakistan – had been under police surveillance for six months, and had purportedly discussed targeting public transportation in a strike. Scores of cells that have staged attacks or been thwarted in Europe while plotting over the past decade shared similar profiles – and most received limited direct assistance from al-Qaeda or radicals directly tied to it.

Another example was the three suspected extremists arrested in Norway in July 2010 on suspicions they were planning to make bombs for use on undetermined targets abroad. That group was at one time in contact with an al-Qaeda leader since killed in Pakistan. That leader had put similar bombing plots in motion – one in Manchester, England, and another of the New York subway system that was busted in 2009 – in a trio of planned strikes operating independently of one another, and with little further guidance beyond his initial instructions. Most cells, authorities say, don’t even involve such high-level al-Qaeda input.

“Al-Qaeda is essential as inspiration – and, at times, with training and direction,” the French official says. “But what radicals in Europe and elsewhere in the world are finding and using for indoctrination and terror resources on the internet today are more dangerous to us than what comes to them from Pakistan, much less from Bin Laden or his circle of commanders.”

Still, Bin Laden’s personal force as a symbolic and inspirational figure to admirers – including many who never became active in jihad – raises the risk that some of those may now find sufficient motivation in his death to want to seek revenge for it through attacks. However, that vengeance factor is probably not a game-changer, some suggest. (See pictures of the U.S. Marines’ offensive in Afghanistan.)

“It’s a concern, but I’d argue if you’re involved in or even considering violent jihad in the first place, having one more excuse to justify that with isn’t going to change a lot,” the European official says. “With the 10 years [since] September 11 on the horizon, and other factors also looming, we’d already entered a pretty tense period for possible terrorism before Bin Laden’s killing. His death adds a bit to that tension, but not all that much. Plus, if anyone who’d been bent on attacking is now even more anxious to do so, it could be the extra emotion and fury will make them a bit more vulnerable to tipping their hand.”

See pictures of the battle against the Taliban.

See pictures of a Bin Laden family album.

View this article on Time.com

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110502/ts_nm/us_binladen_compound

By Patricia Zengerle and Alister Bull Patricia Zengerle And Alister Bull Mon May 2, 5:57 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. forces finally found al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden not in a mountain cave on Afghanistan’s border, but with his youngest wife in a million-dollar compound in a summer resort just over an hour’s drive from Pakistan’s capital, U.S. officials said.

A small U.S. team conducted a night-time helicopter raid on the compound early on Monday. After 40 minutes of fighting, bin Laden and an adult son, one unidentified woman and two men were dead, the officials said.

U.S. forces were led to the fortress-like three-story building after more than four years tracking one of bin Laden’s most trusted couriers, whom U.S. officials said was identified by men captured after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with or protected by bin Laden,” a senior administration official said in a briefing for reporters.

Bin Laden was finally found — more than 9-1/2 years after the 2001 attacks on the United States — after authorities discovered in August 2010 that the courier lived with his brother and their families in an unusual and extremely high-security building, officials said.

They said the courier and his brother were among those killed in the raid.

“When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw: an extraordinarily unique compound,” a senior administration official said.

“The bottom line of our collection and our analysis was that we had high confidence that the compound harbored a high-value terrorist target. The experts who worked this issue for years assessed that there was a strong probability that the terrorist who was hiding there was Osama bin Laden,” another administration official said.

The home is in Abbottabad, a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad, that is relatively affluent and home to many retired members of Pakistan’s military.

It was a far cry from the popular notion of bin Laden hiding in some mountain cave on the rugged and inaccessible Afghan-Pakistan border — an image often evoked by officials up to and including former President George W. Bush.

The building, about eight times the size of other nearby houses, sat on a large plot of land that was relatively secluded when it was built in 2005. When it was constructed, it was on the outskirts of Abbottabad’s center, at the end of a dirt road, but some other homes have been built nearby in the six years since it went up, officials said.

WALLS TOPPED WITH BARBED WIRE

Intense security measures included 12- to 18-foot outer walls topped with barbed wire and internal walls that sectioned off different parts of the compound, officials said. Two security gates restricted access, and residents burned their trash, rather than leaving it for collection as did their neighbors, officials said.

Few windows of the three-story home faced the outside of the compound, and a terrace had a seven-foot (2.1 meter) privacy wall, officials said.

“It is also noteworthy that the property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it,” an administration official said. “The brothers had no explainable source of wealth.”

U.S. analysts realized that a third family lived there in addition to the two brothers, and the age and makeup of the third family matched those of the relatives — including his youngest wife — they believed would be living with bin Laden.

“Everything we saw, the extremely elaborate operational security, the brothers’ background and their behavior and the location of the compound itself was perfectly consistent with what our experts expected bin Laden’s hide-out to look like,” another Obama administration official said.

Abbottabad is a popular summer resort, located in a valley surrounded by green hills near Pakistani Kashmir. Islamist militants, particularly those fighting in Indian-controlled Kashmir, used to have training camps near the town.

(Editing by Mary Milliken, Will Dunham and Mark Trevelyan)

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