Posted by Curt on 19 February, 2007 at 11:14 am. 1 comment.


I’ve been blogging a bit on Waziristan since last September so this latest news isn’t surprising one bit:

Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.

American analysts said recent intelligence showed that the compounds functioned under a loose command structure and were operated by groups of Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants allied with Al Qaeda. They receive guidance from their commanders and Mr. Zawahri, the analysts said. Mr. bin Laden, who has long played less of an operational role, appears to have little direct involvement.

Officials said the training camps had yet to reach the size and level of sophistication of the Qaeda camps established in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. But groups of 10 to 20 men are being trained at the camps, the officials said, and the Qaeda infrastructure in the region is gradually becoming more mature.

Their camps and infrastructure have not reached pre-2002 levels but they are well on their way since President Musharraf has taken a hands off approach to al-Qaeda.  Condi is a bit worried:

Fears that Taliban militants are preparing to launch a spring offensive from Pakistan’s tribal areas are straining relations between President Pervez Musharraf and his US-led allies.

American officials are increasingly vocal about the dangers of Taliban safe havens inside Pakistan and in particular North Waziristan, one of Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal agencies, where General Musharraf struck a controversial peace deal last September. American generals say cross-border incursions have soared since then.

On Friday Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, spoke of "problems and disappointments" with the situation in Waziristan.

Pakistan is hitting back at the criticism with irate impatience. On Friday Ali Jan Aurakzai, the governor of North West Frontier Province, accused western allies of scapegoating Pakistan for their own failures in Afghanistan.

In comments sure to needle Nato, he described the Taliban insurgency as a "war of liberation" fought by disaffected tribesmen and which enjoys broad public support. Pakistan accounts for just "five, 10 or 20%", of the problem, he said.

This is a problem which will have to be dealt with, hopefully sooner rather then later but rest assured it will have to be dealt with.  They are growing while Pakistan does nothing.  But as Ed Morrissey alludes to, if we deal with the problem there could very well be a coup inside Pakistan turning it into a Islamic state which will in turn become our enemy.  Then we are at war with a nuclear powered radical Islam state.

Do we tell Pakistan that we will help India gain new technology unless they do something about Waziristan? 

It’s complicated but I’m sure Bush is up to the task.

But one thing struck me about the NYT’s article cited above.  It’s the number of times they refer to our enemy as MR. Bin Laden or MR. Zawahri.  What a kind courtesy….how special.

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