U.S. Predator Drones in Pakistan Free to Hunt Osama Bin Laden

By Matthew Harwood

Time magazine debates the relevance of Osama bin Laden.

Also, according to the UK Telegraph, it has been revealed that the CIA received the greenlight from Pakistan early in the war on terror to use predator drones to hunt down and kill the al Qaeda leader:

The US intelligence agency does not have to ask permission from the Pakistani government to attack his hideout, presumed to be in the lawless tribal areas on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

Using a Predator would dramatically slash the time between receiving actionable intelligence on the al Qaeda leader's whereabouts and a strike.

It would remove the need to brief and transport [s]pecial [f]orces from a base in Afghanistan and, crucially, cut out the need to inform the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service, which is widely understood to be riddled with al Qaeda sympathisers.

Under the terms of the deal negotiated by the U.S. and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the U.S. military must coordinate all its operations in Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas (FATA) except for those that concentrate on capturing or killing bin Laden. While predator drones and CIA paramilitary officers can operate in the FATA, the U.S. military, the article reports, is frustrated by Pakistan's refusal to allow U.S. ground troops to search for bin Laden in its tribal badlands. The terms of the agreement were first reported yesterday by the Washington Times.

And while a new front in the terrorism debate asks whether al Qaeda or its third-generation homegrown wannabees are more likely to strike the West, Peter Bergen reports in Time that it's a false dichotomy.

Interviewing Philip Mudd, the former second-in-charge at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, Bergen was told that many of these homegrown wannabees, like two of London's 7/7 bombers, traveled to the FATA for material assistance and training from al Qaeda.

"There is a very clear, almost mathematical increase in lethality as soon as plotters touch the FATA," he said.

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