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Skip to comments.Threat Matrix- Daily Terror Thread (4):
Posted on 02/24/2004 3:19:05 AM PST by RevelEdited on 05/26/2004 5:19:43 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
February 24, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has dispatched the elite commando force that hunted down Saddam Hussein to Afghanistan for a new operation aimed at getting Osama bin Laden, officials said yesterday. Military sources confirmed that members of the shadowy Task Force 121, the unit that conducted the high-tech search for Saddam and his henchmen, have recently begun operating in the remote mountainous region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where bin Laden and key al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives are believed to be hiding. The Task Force is made up of highly trained Delta and SEAL commandos, as well as CIA paramilitary operators. It operates outside normal military channels.
(Excerpt) Read more at nypost.com ...
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.
24 Feb 2004 07:09
SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Three senior members of a frontline Kashmiri rebel group were killed in an overnight gunbattle with the army, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.
Separatist violence continues unabated in Kashmir despite peace moves between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, who were on the verge of a third war over the Himalayan region in 2002.
The spokesman said the Hizbul Mujahideen leaders were killed in a clash in Shopian area south of Srinagar. The Hizbul Mujahideen is fighting for Kashmir's merger with Pakistan.
Elsewhere, five people, including a soldier and two militants, have been killed in shootouts and an explosion in the Himalayan region in the past 24 hours.
India accuses Pakistan of fomenting separatist violence in Kashmir by arming and training guerrillas. Pakistan denies the charge.
The two countries last week held talks for the first time in nearly three years and announced a "basic roadmap" to end their enmity.
Authorities say more than 40,000 people have been killed since a revolt against Indian rule broke out in its only Muslim-majority state at the end of 1989. Separatists put the toll at more than 80,000.
Posted on Tue, Feb. 24, 2004
WANA, Pakistan - Pakistani forces backed by helicopters and artillery leveled three houses and detained at least 20 people Tuesday, sweeping through villages in a remote border region where Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida militants are believed to be hiding.
The searches near the town of Wana, just a few miles from the border with Afghanistan, began after dawn, as paramilitary and army troops moved into areas where the fugitives are believed to have taken refuge among local tribes. Using artillery, troops leveled homes belonging to three tribesmen who were allegedly sheltering fugitives.
Three Arab women were among those detained, though it was not immediately clear if they were under arrest.
"They were given an enough time," a government official supervising the operation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. "We launched the operation when they failed to hand the foreign terrorists over."
People in Wana reported hearing explosions and gunshots throughout the morning.
"We have heard 25 to 30 explosions. The shooting started in the morning and it's continuing," said Shahzad Wazir, a resident in Wana.
The operation, which included more than a dozen helicopter gunships, began in the village of Zarkai, a village in Pakistan's strategic South Waziristan tribal region. It is located about 190 miles west of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.
Soon, two other villages were also under siege: Kaloosha and Azam Warsak. Both are west of Wana.
Authorities have been talking for days about launching the operation, saying it would go door-to-door if tribal elders did not voluntarily hand over any terror suspects.
The fact the operation was announced in advance suggested that officials saw little chance of surprising bin Laden or other senior al-Qaida men, but the maneuvers could be designed to make the area less hospitable and force the suspects to flee into Afghanistan, where the Americans lead an 11,000-strong military force and can operate more freely.
The Pakistani government had set Feb. 20 as the deadline for tribal elders to hand over al-Qaida fugitives and their supporters. So far, about 58 suspects have been turned over, though another 38 are still being sought, officials say.
In recent days, Pakistan stepped up security in the tribal areas, said Mohammed Azam Khan, a local official.
Authorities hope the sweep will yield clues about bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader. Intelligence officials have long believed that bin Laden is hiding in the rugged mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan, though there has been no hard evidence of his whereabouts for nearly two years.
The operation comes weeks after CIA director George Tenet is believed to have made a secret trip to Pakistan to discuss the hunt for the Saudi fugitive as well as ways to fight nuclear proliferation.
Pakistan denies that any American troops are involved in operations on its soil, though local residents have in the past said they have seen what they believed to be U.S. special forces in the region.
Pakistan's government has limited authority in the tribal lands, but has been expanding its role under U.S. pressure to crack down on terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The operation is the fourth against al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives along the border since Pakistan became an ally of the United States following the terror attacks in Washington and New York.
More than 500 suspected al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives have been captured, including key figures in bin Laden's terrorist network. Most have been turned over to U.S. authorities.
Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said Monday that any top al-Qaida fugitives wanted in the United States would be handed over. However, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has assured tribal elders that suspects who turn over their weapons and surrender would not be extradited.
A CNN military correspondent reported that the U.S. military is not in Pakistan, but is on the Afganistan side of the mountainous area.
Nighty night Revel.
The Al Qaeda network's number two leader Ayman al-Zawahri condemned recent French measures to ban the Muslim veil in government schools in a new tape aired by Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV Tuesday morning, as the hunt for Osama bin Laden continued on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
The tape was broadcast in an apparent referral to the French parliament's vote earlier this month to ban religious symbols in state schools.
An official at the Al Arabiya station, requesting anonymity, said the tape was received Tuesday, "just minutes before taking it to air." The official added the tape was not aired in its entirety, "only what was newsworthy and what we thought was new."
"This is a new indication of the Crusader hatred which Westerners harbour against Muslims while they boast of freedom, democracy and human rights," the voice, which sounded like previous audio tapes attributed to Zawahri, stated.
"France is the country of freedom which defends freedom to show one's body, and to be immoral and depraved. In France, you're free to show yourself but not to dress in a modest manner," Zawahri said.
"This is a campaign planned by the Crusader Zionists with their agents in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia and other Islamic countries," Zawahri said.
The voice on the tape said the headscarf decision was in the context of the ongoing campaign against Islam. "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 them (Muslims) in the cells of Guantanamo," the tape said.
Meanwhile, Pakistani troops backed by helicopters on Tuesday swept through villages in a remote border region where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding in an operation to capture fugitive Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects.
The searches near the town of Wana, just a few miles from the border with Afghanistan, began after dawn, as paramilitary and army troops moved into areas where the fugitives are believed to have taken refuge among local tribes. (Albawaba.com)
Tue, February 24, 2004
'Real step up' by professional terrorists: U.S.
KIRKUK, Iraq -- A suicide bomber blew up a white Oldsmobile outside a police station in this northern city yesterday, killing at least seven policemen and wounding dozens of other people. It was the fifth suicide attack in Iraq this month. The bombing occurred as U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Baghdad to check on the state of readiness of Iraq's security forces, which have born the brunt of the suicide strikes.
U.S. administrator Paul Bremer told reporters after meeting with Rumsfeld that Iraq has seen "a real step up" by "professional terrorists from al-Qaida and Ansar al-Islam in conducting suicide attacks."
Kirkuk has also seen rising ethnic tensions as Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen compete for control of the city, which is located in one of the world's richest oil-producing regions about 290 km north of Baghdad.
Yesterday's suicide bombing in Kirkuk occurred as police were changing shifts at Rahimawa station, according to the station's chief, Col. Adel Ibrahim.
'KNEW THE PROCEDURE'
"Whoever did this had been watching and knew the procedure of the policemen's shifts," said Col. Thamer Abdul-Masih.
In other developments yesterday:
- The United Nations said elections were impossible by June 30 but could be held by January 2005 if planning begins at once.
The report by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi also said tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims were "becoming entrenched and inter-communal politics more polarized."
The U.S. intends to transfer power to the Iraqis on June 30, but its plans have caused controversies on several fronts. Leaders of the country's Shiite Muslim majority demand quick elections to establish a government, and an influential cleric warned yesterday of civil war if a vote is delayed.
- U.S. officials said 17 American soldiers had been suspended pending the outcome of a probe into allegations of abuse of Iraqi prisoners. They include a battalion commander and a company commander.
Its that hospitality thingy again you know.
Posted on Tue, Feb. 24, 2004
By JAMES RISEN and ERIC LICHTBLAU
The New York Times
WASHINGTON U.S. investigators received the first name and the telephone number of one of the Sept. 11 hijackers 2 1/2 half years before the attacks on New York and Washington.
The United States, however, appears to have failed to aggressively pursue the lead, U.S. and German officials say.
The information the earliest known signal that the United States received about any of the hijackers has now become an important element of an independent commission's investigation into the events of Sept. 11, officials said Monday.
The information is considered particularly significant because it may have represented a missed opportunity for U.S. officials to penetrate the German terror cell that was at the heart of the plot.
In March 1999, German intelligence officials gave the CIA the first name and telephone number of Marwan al-Shehhi and asked the Americans to track him.
After the Germans passed the information on to the CIA, they never heard back from the Americans about the matter until after Sept. 11, a senior German intelligence official said.
After receiving the tip, the CIA decided that Marwan was probably an associate of Osama bin Laden but never tracked him down, U.S. officials say.
The information concerning Shehhi, the man who took over the controls of United Airlines Flight 175, which flew into the south tower of the World Trade Center, came months earlier than well-documented tips about other hijackers.
A U.S. official said: The Germans did give us the name Marwan' and a phone number, but we were unable to come up with anything.
It was an unlisted phone number in the UAE, which he was known to use.
Close surveillance of Shehhi in 1999 might have led investigators to other plot leaders, including Mohammed Atta, who was Shehhi's roommate.
U.S. and European authorities believe that Shehhi played a critical role in the Sept. 11 plot and was actively involved in its planning and logistics.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies have been heavily criticized for failing to put together fragmentary pieces of information they received from a wide array of sources in order to predict or prevent the terrorist plot.
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