New Tactics in the Hunt for Bin Laden
Seven years after the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, U.S. officials and Pakistani officials are stepping up air strikes in western Pakistan, targeting al-Qaeda leaders in hopes it will lead to Osama bin Laden, the Post's Craig Whitlock reports.
Not since late 2001 has there been a confirmed trace of bin Laden, a source of frustration to U.S., Pakistani and European leaders. Those leaders attribute that failure to several factors: an overreliance on military force and an inability to develop informants in the tribal regions of Pakistan, as well as the distraction of the Iraq war and "a pattern of underestimating the enemy," Whitlock writes.
In an on-line discussion today, Whitlock said that, while bin Laden does not control day-to-day operations for al-Qaeda, the CIA believes that he clearly remains "the boss," and signs off on major decisions.
The airstrikes by unmanned Predator spy planes, equipped with multiple cameras that transmit video, have been launched against four targets in the past month and have killed two senior al-Qaeda leaders since January.
But the airstrikes are controversial, with some officials arguing that the civilian casualties they entail make it less likely that tribes in the area will help the United States by turning in bin Laden.
The situation on the ground in western Pakistan is further complicated by conflicting loyalties within that country, Dexter Filkins reported in the New York Times. Filkins raises the question of whether the Pakistani government is able, and willing, to control the Taliban and al-Qaeda loyalists in its tribal regions.
Whitlock raises the same question. "Even some Pakistanis said the U.S. government was naive to think that (former president Pervez) Musharraf or his generals would do much to find bin Laden," he writes, pointing to long-standing ties between the al-Qaeda leader and the Pakistani spy agency.
By The Editors |
September 10, 2008; 2:23 PM ET
Previous: The Daily Read | Next: Report: U.S. Oil Program Rife with Conflicts, Favoritism, 'Promiscuity'
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Mizzy | September 10, 2008 5:41 PM
Posted by: Ralph Joseph-Mirani | September 10, 2008 6:53 PM
Posted by: Nikos Retsos | September 10, 2008 7:58 PM
Posted by: sanman | September 10, 2008 11:16 PM
Posted by: thebob.bob | September 11, 2008 12:15 AM
Posted by: SadAmerican | September 11, 2008 12:42 AM
Posted by: Drew | September 11, 2008 12:54 AM
Posted by: Doobie | September 11, 2008 2:45 AM
Posted by: Pakistan is the batteground | September 13, 2008 11:21 AM
Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2008 1:09 PM