Skip to comments.Highly Covert U.S.-Thai Operation Nabbed Hambali
Posted on 08/15/2003 11:00:00 AM PDT by Sub-Driver
Highly Covert U.S.-Thai Operation Nabbed Hambali 2 minutes ago Add Top Stories - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Tabassum Zakaria
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The operation by the CIA (news - web sites) and Thai counter-terrorism authorities that captured top al Qaeda operative Hambali was so secret that few inside the U.S. government knew of it beforehand, officials said on Friday.
"It was highly compartmented. Hardly anybody knew about it. It was exceedingly carefully planned and carried out, and even within the U.S. government hardly anyone knew about it," a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
Hambali, born Riduan Isamuddin, was hunted throughout Southeast Asia as a suspect in last year's bombings at a Bali nightclub strip and last week's hotel bombing in Jakarta before his capture earlier this week in Thailand.
The CIA initially brought his presence to the attention of Thai authorities, and the Southeast Asian government put that together with tips from local sources about strangers in Ayutthaya, about 50 miles north of Bangkok.
"We received tipoffs from local people that there were strange-looking people staying around there so we checked their background and passports and realized that they were the people we were looking for," Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters in Sri Lanka.
Thai authorities carried out the "kick-down-the-door" raid on the apartment and grabbed the most wanted man in Southeast Asia, along with his wife and two lieutenants from the al Qaeda-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiah, U.S. sources said.
"They deserve great credit for their professionalism and the way in which they carried out the operation without the loss of life," the U.S. official said. "Nobody was killed."
The operation to catch Hambali was only known to a few CIA officials beforehand and his capture was kept from the public for several days.
AL QAEDA CHIEF OPERATIVE
It was revealed by the White House on board Air Force One on Thursday as President Bush (news - web sites) traveled to California to greet troops and make a campaign fund-raising swing. He used the occasion to trumpet the arrest and called Hambali "one of the world's most lethal terrorists."
Hambali was the operational chief of Jemaah Islamiah and al Qaeda's chief operative in Southeast Asia, U.S. officials say.
The Indonesian Muslim preacher was being pursued even prior to the Bali bombings as a member of the inner circle of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked-plane attacks that killed about 3,000 people in the United States.
Mohammed, who was captured in March in Pakistan and is in U.S. custody, told interrogators he had given Hambali money to carry out a major attack, U.S. officials said.
Hambali and his two lieutenants were flown out of Thailand in U.S. custody to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
Earlier, one Thai official said Hambali and his wife had been flown to Indonesia, but U.S. sources say he was taken to another destination outside the United States. They said his wife was not in U.S. custody but would not confirm her whereabouts.
Top al Qaeda leaders in U.S. custody are not held together at one location and are not taken to the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of lower-level al Qaeda suspects are held.
There was some speculation Hambali may have been in Thailand to plot an attack on an APEC (news - web sites) summit in October, but there was no evidence to confirm that and he has not admitted to such a plot during interrogation, one source said.
An Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand in October is expected to be attended by world leaders including President Bush.
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Aren't they all?
I think you can count out restrictions on Spc Ops:
Q:...Part B was an article I saw in the -- I think the Times yesterday that talked about constraining the operations of our Special Operations Forces; that a presidential order would, perhaps, have to be in place. Comments, please.
Rumsfeld: I checked into that article that was in some newspaper, and at least thus far, I'm told that it's not accurate. That is to say that the -- we do not believe there is a constraint that's operative at the present time. It's complicated, because it involves two senatorial committees, and -- I was not in any of the meetings, and there is nothing in the law that constrains us and -- beyond where we're currently constrained, and obviously, there are constraints, and we live within them, and that's fine. But the implication in the article was that there was some new constraint that would inhibit the special operators from being capable of doing the kinds of things they've been doing in the past. And I'm told in discussions with the Armed Services Committee that that's not the case; that there was some side language in a report in the Intel Committee that suggested that, but the Armed Services Committee seems not to think that's a problem, and I certainly hope that's the case.
And if it's not the case, we would have to have more discussions and figure out how we sort it out, because the -- in the global war on terror and the kind of an environment we're in, the security environment we're in, there is no question but that the Special Operations people have been utilized to a much greater extent than previously and undoubtedly will be prospectively.
IOW - no way, Jose. (^:
Our Senators seem to think their constituents are all unhappy parents of miserable troops.
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