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CIA Hot on Osama Bin Laden's Trail, 'Stunned' by His Unprecedented Visibility


"Will try to capitalize on the Arab revolts and the Palestinian struggle..."

  • Osama bin Laden has been criss-crossing Hindu Kush for a series of meetings
  • CIA launches covert operations in that region
  • Bin Laden's level of visibility and movement has "stunned" officials
  • Speculation in intelligence circles that al Qaeda could be planning another major attack
  • Bin Laden's meetings: al Qaeda hoping to capitalize on the Arab revolts

The Asia Times reports:

After a prolonged lull, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has launched a series of covert operations in the rugged Hindu Kush mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan following strong tip-offs that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been criss-crossing the area in the past few weeks for high-profile meetings in militant redoubts.

The US has been on Bin Laden's trail ever since he fled Afghanistan when the US invaded the country in 2001 to oust the Taliban, but the 54-year-old with a US$50 million reward on his head has always remained several steps in front.

Asia Times Online has learned that decision-makers have put a lot of weight on the information on Bin Laden's movements as it has come from multiple intelligence agencies, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. For at least two years, little credible news has emerged of Bin Laden's movements and motives. Now, intelligence officials believe they have top-grade accounts as they come from the inner circles of militant camps.

According to the Asia Times, officials are "stunned" by the frequency and visibility of Bin Laden's movements in and around the Hindu Kush mountain range over the last several weeks.

Officials are said to be "stunned" by the visibility of Bin Laden's movements, and their frequency, in a matter of a few weeks in the outlawed terrain of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the most unprecedented reports about him since he evaded the US in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.

The development has fueled speculation in intelligence circles that al-Qaeda could be planning another major attack along the lines of the September 11, 2001, assault on New York and Washington, and the July 2007 foiled bomb attack in London.

However, extensive investigations by Asia Times Online, including exchanges within al-Qaeda's camps, point in another direction: given the nature of Bin Laden's meetings, this appears to be the beginning of a new era for a broader struggle in which al-Qaeda, through its Laskhar al-Zil (Shadow Army), will try to capitalize on the Arab revolts and the Palestinian struggle and also revitalize and redefine its role in Afghanistan.

Tip of the hat to Weasel Zippers.

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