America is stepping up its hunt for Osama bin Laden by dispatching additional CIA operatives and paramilitary officers to Pakistan to kill or capture the al-Qa'eda leader.
US officials said that the mission is intended to intensify the pressure on the terrorist leader, who turns 50 tomorrow, and perhaps force him into making a mistake. He is widely believed to be hiding in the region bordering Afghanistan.
Satellite photographs and details of communications intercepts were given to President Musharraf of Pakistan last week by Stephen Kappes, deputy director of the CIA, as part of a strategy to persuade him to give US intelligence agencies more assistance.
Mr Kappes, a Middle East specialist who has served in Pakistan, travelled to Islamabad to brief Gen Musharraf along with Vice President Dick Cheney. His detailed presentation showed evidence of al-Qa'eda building its strength on Pakistani soil.
"Reports that the trail has gone stone cold are not correct," an American official said afterwards. "We are very much increasing our efforts there."
Mr Kappes also met members of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and operatives from the CIA's Islamabad station to discuss co-ordinating efforts to track bin Laden.
The decision to send such a senior intelligence officer to brief Mr Musharraf is an indication of the Bush administration's increasing concern about the borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Read the rest for yourself.
Yesterday I read a great piece from Debbie over at Right Truth called "Bin Laden, the calm before the storm?"
Her ending question is a good one.
These thoughts make the search for bin Laden take on an increased urgency. We have become complacent with the over-abundance of videos and tapes from Zawahiri. We barely pay attention to them any more, with a ho-hum attitude. Should bin-Laden release a new tape, would it strike fear in the hearts of the left, who don't take this war on terror seriously?
Something to think about.
Yes it is, but seriously I do not believe the left is capable of fully understanding the threats still posed by al-Qaeda.
Like children, when something is out of their sight for too long, it is also out of their minds. The only reason they even still mention Bin Laden is for their own talking points about Iraq and how we haven't caught Bin Laden yet and it is all Bush's fault.
Everything is always Bush's fault and if they could get away with it I think they would blame the terrorism before 9/11 on Bush too.
But I digress.....
From Captain's Quarters:
It seems as if Dick Cheney's visit to Pakistan meant something rather significant for Musharraf. With AQ more active than any time in the last five years, and with Musharraf sitting on his hands, Cheney's visit was meant as an ultimatum for action. If Musharraf won't fight terrorists, then we have less interest in preventing his destabilization. Musharraf responded by arresting two senior members of the Taliban outside of Waziristan, and his lack of response thus far to American operations in Waziristan seems to indicate acquiescence to the new American policy.
Expect a much greater latitude in American action across the Afghan/Pakistani border from this point forward -- a new policy that will cripple the Taliban's expected spring offensive, and perhaps force Osama and Ayman al-Zawahiri to flee their safety zone.
Which brings me to my point which will probably be disagreed with by members of both sides, the left and the right, but I am going to say it anyway.
Really, who IS Bin Laden?
A figurehead who claimed responsibility for 9/11 in the name of al-Qaeda.
Was he the mastermind? NO.
That was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and guess what? We captured him and he is in our custody.
Was Bin Laden one of the men who hijacked our planes and killed approximately 3,000 people on 9/11? NO again!!!!! Those men are dead.
Is Bin Laden the man who keeps sending tapes with messages of Jihad and recruiting people? NO!!!! That is [Ayman] al Zawahiri, who now calls for their followers to now unite under the Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
In a message released Monday, al Qaeda's No. 2 leader called on Muslims to unite under Taliban leader Mullah Omar, stop trying to form secular governments and instead follow strict Islamic Sharia law.
The message from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the top aide to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, appeared on an Islamist Web site.
The video contained a still picture of al-Zawahiri, the audio remarks and English subtitles.
A text translation also accompanied the tape and was provided to CNN by lauramansfield.com, a Web site that analyzes terrorism.
So again, I ask, who exactly is Bin Laden and what will be accomplished from his capture or death, besides a couple of "feel good" weeks afterward where we can spew forth our greatness for being able to capture him?
Will it stop the threat of al-Qaeda? Only the very naive would believe so.
Will it make him into a martyr? Most assuredly.
Will his capture or death be used as a recruiting tool....of course.
He is a man with health problems that is hiding as a coward would, and although it would be a spectacular feat for this administration to say "hey, we got him!!!!", what else would it accomplish?
al-Qaeda is a threat to us, I do not doubt that for a second, so do not get me wrong here, but in my mind, Bin Laden is simply a talking head for al-Qaeda, a mascot, if you will, and his capture could be a blow to al-Qaeda's morale, but it could also backfire and become one of the best recruiting tools for al-Zawahiri since 9/11.
Further into the Telegraph's article:
Last week, Adml Mike McConnell, the new US Director of National Intelligence, told a Senate committee that bin Laden, who turns 50 tomorrow, is in Pakistan and actively re-establishing al-Qa'eda training camps there.
It was the most specific information about bin Laden given by a US official for several years and prompted speculation that surveillance photographs of the al-Qa'eda leader or his deputy might have been obtained.
Adml McConnell said of the Pakistani tribal area that "to the best of our knowledge the senior leadership, Number One and Number Two, are there, and they are attempting to re-establish and rebuild and to establish training camps."
Now, does anyone really believe Bin Laden is physically rebuilding these camps himself? heh.
Is he personally training these men to fight?
Or is he simply a figurehead that they consider some type of larger than life God?
If that is the case, wouldn't his death make him even larger?
When Christ was sacrificed, did that kill Christianity or did it make it bigger? Isn't it still around today?
I am not agreeing that Bin Laden is any kind of God, but to HIS followers he is and I am asking about how THEY would feel and respond to his death.
Do I think we should not capture him if given the chance? Hell no!
I do think however we should ask ourselves some very serious questions about whether we should announce it to the world when we do.
I also think that we have some very good men and women in the military that could be better used to destabilize the al-Qaeda foundation instead of actively hunting Bin Laden.
al-Qaeda can and will live if Bin Laden is captured or killed.
Bin Laden would be a nobody if al-Qaeda was destroyed.
Just a few things to think about....