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Skip to comments.Al Qaeda again threatens America (Thread 3) Daily Terror Threat
Posted on 02/05/2004 8:31:17 PM PST by Mossad1967Edited on 02/09/2004 3:20:18 PM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]
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24 Feb 2004 09:16:44 GMT
By Hafiz Wazir
WANA, Pakistan, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Pakistani troops detained at least 25 suspects and blew up two houses in a new offensive against al Qaeda and Taliban militants on Tuesday in a remote tribal area near the Afghan border, officials said.
A day earlier, U.S. and Pakistani military officials said the whereabouts of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden remained a mystery, despite a British news report saying his location had been narrowed down to Pakistani mountains near the Afghan border.
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Reuters the latest operation was launched near Wana, nearly 300 km (190 miles) northeast of where bin Laden was reported to be hiding.
Asked whether the operation was targeting bin Laden, he said: "It is against foreign terrorists."
A Reuters reporter saw troops destroy two houses with cannon fire in the village of Zarai Letta, about 15 km (10 miles) west of the town of Wana, while military helicopters flew overhead. Wana is 360 km (225 miles) southwest of Islamabad.
Seven suspects were seen being driven away in military vehicles, but it was unclear if they were foreigners or local tribesmen. Intelligence officials said 25 people, including women, had been detained.
"We are trying to establish their identity but initial investigations suggest there could be some Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs among them," one said.
At least 14 helicopters were seen flying overhead in the early morning when the operation was launched.
Military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan said the operation followed a tipoff about the presence of "foreign terrorists" who failed to surrender by a February 20 deadline.
It came hours after U.S. President George W. Bush vowed to track down al Qaeda militants and ahead of a visit to Afghanistan by U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld later this week.
The operation also follows a visit to Pakistan this month by CIA Director George Tenet in which he is thought to have discussed the hunt for bin Laden and al Qaeda and a proliferation scandal involving the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb.
"We are on the hunt for al Qaeda," Bush told a meeting of U.S. governors at the White House.
"It requires all assets, intelligence assets and military assets, to chase them down and bring them to justice, and we're going pretty good -- better than pretty good."
PAKISTAN A KEY U.S. ALLY
Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, has handed over more than 500 al Qaeda suspects to the United States since the September 11 attacks in 2001, and a military statement said the operation showed Islamabad's "continued resolve".
But the timing of the Wana operation ahead of Rumsfeld's visit could suggest a desire by Islamabad to win over doubters in Washington given the fallout from revelations that Iran, North Korea and Libya received Pakistani nuclear technology.
Authorities in South Waziristan have have been pressuring tribesmen in recent months to hand over al Qaeda suspects and Taliban fighters hiding in the region.
In October, eight al Qaeda or Taliban suspects were killed in a Pakistani operation in the region. They included Ahmed Saeed Khadr, an Egyptian-born Canadian thought to be an al Qaeda financier, and a top Chinese Islamic militant Hasan Mahsum.
Earlier this year, U.S. military officials in Kabul boldly predicted bin Laden's capture in 2004, and Britain's Sunday Express weekly reported that the Saudi-born dissident was "boxed in" by U.S. and British special forces in Pakistani mountains along the Afghan border.
The newspaper said bin Laden was within a 10 mile by 10 mile area, north of the Pakistani town of Quetta being monitored by a U.S. spy satellite.
However, on Monday, U.S. military spokesman in Kabul, Lieutenant-Colonel Bryan Hilferty, said he did not give the reports about bin Laden's location much credence.
"If we knew where he was in Afghanistan, we would go get him and if the Pakistanis knew where he was in Pakistan they would go get him," he said. (with reporting by Tahir Ikram and Zeeshan Haider in ISLAMABAD) ((Writing by David Brunnstrom; editing by David Fox; Reuters Messaging; email@example.com; isl newsroom +92 51 2800 155, fax +92-51 2800 157))
Map showing location of Wana, Pakistan
Funny, but the Pakistani military has been here before. When you ask?
Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
A tribal elder in Pakistan accused of sheltering suspected al-Qaeda fighters has surrendered, the authorities say.
Abdul Khaliq gave himself up after mediation by his local chief in Wana, a town in the remote South Waziristan area of North West Frontier Province.
Mr Khaliq is suspected of running a safe house for militants of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, who are accused of killing at least 10 Pakistani soldiers in a clash in June.
Thousands of Pakistani troops have been stationed in the rugged semi-autonomous tribal region bordering Afghanistan in an attempt to track down Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters still active in the area.
The militants are believed to have crossed into Pakistan after a US-led military campaign toppled Afghanistan's Taleban authorities late last year.
Police have been searching for Mr Khaliq since the 25 June gunfight at his mud-brick "fortress" in which the suspected militants were hiding.
His handover took place in front of dozens of members of the Sarkakhel tribe to which he belongs.
In return, dozens of tribesmen detained following the clash have been released and restrictions have been eased on local shopkeepers, the AFP news agency quoted officials as saying.
The June gunfight took place in Kazha Panga village, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the border with the Afghan province of Paktika.
Tribal areas have their own laws
The four-hour clash was the first time that suspected al-Qaeda fighters had engaged Pakistani forces in the region since President Pervez Musharraf ordered troops to the border in December.
Two men believed to be al-Qaeda fighters were also killed in the gunfight.
Pakistan had until recently resisted US pressure to launch large-scale search operations in the border region for fear of provoking tribal opposition.
But army officials say they have received the full co-operation of tribal leaders in North and South Waziristan, previously considered no-go areas.
The tribal areas, set up after partition from India, stretch for hundreds of kilometres along the border with Afghanistan.
Although strictly speaking part of Pakistan, they have their own laws and customs and the authorities' writ does not run there.
By PATRICK McDOWELL, Associated Press Writer
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi rejected opposition allegations Tuesday that a police investigation into the trafficking of nuclear parts to Libya had been whitewashed to protect his son, who owns the company involved.
Abdullah also said that Washington was unlikely to impose sanctions against this Southeast Asian nation over the trafficking, which was part of the clandestine effort by Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan to sell Libya, Iran and North Korea (news - web sites) nuclear weapons capability.
"I don't think the United States will go to the extent of imposing sanctions because of one small incident," Abdullah said.
Abdullah said that Buhary Syed Abu Tahir, the Sri Lankan who brokered the parts deal with the company owned by Abdullah's son, Kamaluddin, would be available to U.S. investigators if they want to question him.
"Mr. Tahir is a free man," the prime minister said. "He is not detained. What he did was entirely a business deal."
Two opposition parties have called for a parliamentary inquiry into the sale of the nuclear components, an unlikely possibility since Abdullah's coalition has an overwhelming majority.
In the meantime, the fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party is calling attention to the affair at campaign rallies.
Kamaruddin Jaafar, a senior fundamentalist party official, said the government was shielding Abdullah's son and Tahir, who President Bush said was the chief financial officer of Khan's network.
"This is an issue that puts a serious dent on Abdullah's `Mr. Clean' image," Kamaruddin said. "He has not come clean on his son's involvement with Tahir."
A report released by police Friday declared that oil-and-gas company Scomi and its subsidiary SCOPE were "misled" into making 25,000 parts for centrifuges to enrich uranium, a key step in the weapons-making process.
Under the contract brokered by Tahir, the company thought the parts were for the oil-and-gas industry in Dubai, the report said.
Tahir was a partner with Kamaluddin, the premier's only son, in an investment company, Kaspadu, about the time the deal was struck. Kaspadu is the majority owner of Scomi.
Abdullah said that he had not spoken with his son about the case in the three months since U.S. and British intelligence asked Malaysia to investigate SCOPE, after a ship with Libyan-bound parts was seized in the Mediterranean.
"When the matter was brought to my attention, I realized that it affects the business in which my son has substantial investments, and I told the police that they have to make sure it is thoroughly investigated without fear or favor," Abdullah said.
"I had no hand in how the investigation was carried out," Abdullah said. "As far as the company is concerned, I believe that transparency is their strongest defense. They are an innocent party."
Tuesday, February 24, 2004 Posted: 1028 GMT ( 6:28 PM HKT)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- A tape recording attributed to Osama bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, criticized France's decision to ban Islamic headscarves in schools, and described it as "part of the West's campaign of hatred against Islam."
"The decision of the French president to issue a law to prevent Muslim girls from covering their heads in schools is another example of the Crusader and envy that the Westerners have against Muslims," said the voice in the audiotape broadcast Tuesday on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite TV channel.
"Banning the headscarves in France is in line with burning villages with its inhabitants in Afghanistan, bringing houses down on the heads of sleeping Palestinians, with killing children in Iraq and robbing their oil using false pretexts ... (and) torturing [Muslims] in the cells of Guantanamo," the tape said.
Al-Arabiya would not disclose how it acquired the tape from al Qaeda's No. 2 man.
Sources at the station said the tape -- received a few minutes before it was aired -- was not played in its entirety.
The last tape believed to have come from the Egyptian-born doctor was released in December. In it, he warned that his fighters are chasing Americans in their homeland.
-- CNN.com Arabic's Caroline Faraj contributed to this story.
Take a look at it here: http://www.recursiv.com/threatmatrix
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WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - U.N inspectors in Iran have discovered more nuclear experiments not previously disclosed by Tehran, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with an account inspectors were expected to submit to the United Nations this week.
According to the newspaper, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found that Iran produced and experimented with polonium, an element useful in initiating the chain reaction that produces a nuclear explosion.
In the article from Tehran, the newspaper said Iran reportedly acknowledged the experiments but offered an explanation involving another of polonium's other possible uses, which include power generation.
Experts said research on polonium would be done early in a weapons program, the Post reported.
"It's quite clear they were trying to make an explosive device," one person with knowledge of the polonium discovery was quoted as saying. "But they hadn't gotten far enough. No one will find a smoking gun, because they weren't able to make a gun."
Last week, diplomats on the nuclear agency's governing board and a U.S. official said that U.N. inspectors in Iran had discovered components which were usable in advanced centrifuges for extracting enriched uranium.
Tehran maintains that it had no such equipment and denies that it had any intention of developing a nuclear weapons program.
"There was a report that they found (advanced P2 enrichment centrifuge) parts in some military base, which was not true," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told Reuters on Friday.
"What we have is a research project that hasn't been implemented yet. There are no (P2 centrifuge) parts in any place in Iran. They are just trying to create a fuss about this."
Iran admitted late last year to an 18-year cover-up of sensitive nuclear research and signed up to snap inspections of its nuclear facilities.
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