February 6, 2009

THANKS, W:

Predators on the Hunt in Pakistan: A barrage of pinpoint strikes may be unsettling Al Qaeda. (Sami Yousafzai and Mark Hosenball, 1/31/09, NEWSWEEK)

After one of the latest U.S. Predator attacks in North Waziristan, a Taliban subcommander visited the site. He's seen the results of many airstrikes over the past year or two, but this one really impressed him. The missile didn't just hit the right house; it scored a direct hit on the very room where Mustafa al-Misri ("Mustafa the Egyptian") and several other Qaeda operatives were holed up. The hit was so accurate, the subcommander says, it's as if someone had tossed a GPS device against the wall. Unfortunately for others at the scene, the mud-and-stone house collapsed, killing several Afghans along with the foreign fighters. Nevertheless, the subcommander told NEWSWEEK, "We are stunned" by such precision.

Al Qaeda's hideouts in Pakistan's tribal areas aren't quite as safe as they used to be. After years in which they were suspected of shielding Osama bin Laden's lieutenants—or, at least, not pursuing them very vigorously—Pakistan's intelligence services have finally started helping the Americans track and kill the fugitive terrorists in the frontier belt. According to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, 11 of the top 20 "high-value targets" along the Afghan border have been eliminated in the past six months. And while the Americans blast the bad guys in the tribal areas, the Pakistanis have been confronting problems in their own ranks. Since September, 140 pro-Islamist officers have been mustered out of ISI, according to a senior diplomatic official in Washington, asking not to be named on such a sensitive topic.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 6, 2009 6:00 PM
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