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Entries in Raid (9)

Monday
Jan302012

Bin Laden Raid: Will CIA's Secret Doctor Face Treason Trial?

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Pakistan is re-examining the fate of the Pakistani doctor who allegedly helped the CIA gather information on the hideout of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination program after a top U.S. official publicly confirmed his secret spy operation.

Officials with the commission investigating the May 2 Navy SEAL raid that took the life of America's most wanted terrorist in Abbottabad, Pakistan, told Pakistan's The News they've ordered Dr. Shakeel Afridi to face trial for treason and said he will not be turned over to the U.S. Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Gilani, also said Sunday Afridi would be tried.

Another senior Pakistani official, however, said that the commission does not give the final say on Afridi's fate and that the Pakistani government has yet to decide whether to try him.

Pakistani officials have called for a treason trial previously, but the commission's new order comes just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly confirmed Afridi's key role in the Bin Laden mission.

In a Friday preview of an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, Panetta said he was "very concerned" for Afridi.

"This was an individual who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to this operation," said Panetta who was head of the CIA at the time of the operation. "He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan, he was not doing anything that would in any way undermine Pakistan... Pakistan and the United States have a common cause against terrorism."

"For them to take this kind of action against someone who was helping to go after terrorism I just think is a real mistake on their part," he added.

The New York Times first reported Afridi's alleged role in the CIA's intelligence gathering gambit in July. Afridi allegedly set up a fake polio vaccination program, going door-to-door in Abbottabad in hopes of collecting DNA samples from bin Laden family members. After he was arrested outside his home just weeks after the deadly raid, local media reported Afridi admitted to his role, but said he was unable to get access to bin Laden's compound or his children.

In his 60 Minutes interview, Panetta also said he "personally felt" that the Pakistani government must have known something about the Abbottabad compound, perhaps that a high value target could be there.

"I don't have any hard evidence, so I can't say it for a fact. There's nothing that proves the case. But as I said, my personal view is that somebody somewhere probably had that knowledge," he said.

By all official accounts, no Pakistani officials told the U.S. government bin Laden could be in the compound, but Panetta was the only one to recommend with certainty that the raid should take place, according to a new account of high-level decision making provided by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

"[Obama] said, 'I have to make this decision -- what is your opinion?' He started with the National Security advisor, the Secretary of State and he ended with me," Biden said at a recent gathering of Democrat leaders in Maryland. "Every single person in that roomed hedged their bet, except Leon Panetta. He said, 'Go.'"

For his part, Biden said he advised the president not to launch the operation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug012011

Osama Bin Laden Raid: Report Casts Doubt on Helmet-Cam Footage

Pakistani media personnel and local residents gather outside the hideout of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following his death by US Special Forces in a ground operation in Abbottabad on May 3, 2011. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After the historic Navy SEAL raid that took out Osama bin Laden in early May, officials from the U.S. government shared an extraordinary amount of information about the top secret operation, including the revelation that the whole thing had actually been captured on video by cameras mounted on the SEALs' helmets.

Several top U.S. officials said the video -- which reportedly contains the moment the al Qaeda leader was killed -- would not be made public, but a new report is calling into question whether the footage exists at all.

The report, slated for publication this week by The New Yorker, says that no helmet-cams were involved in the operation. The New Yorker's report offers a detailed account of the raid, but admits that parts may be "imprecise" since it can only be recreated based on recollection.

Top U.S. officials had confirmed to several news organizations, including ABC News, at the time that some of the SEALs had worn helmet-mounted cameras. That information was based on initial reports received by officials in Washington, D.C.

The New Yorker article does not cite any specific sources for its information on the helmet-cams, but bases other account details on U.S. officials involved in the operation.

Spokesmen for the Department of Defense and U.S. Special Operations Command declined to comment for this report about the existence of the helmet-mounted cameras.

"We have not released any information on that operation, nor will we," U.S. SOCOM public affairs officer Ken McGraw told ABC News.

When a tense President Obama and national security team watched the operation unraveling from the White House's Situation Room -- a moment now immortalized in an iconic photograph -- it was reported they were not watching live feeds from any helmet-cams, but instead a feed from a drone buzzing thousands of feet above the SEALs' heads.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul262011

Taliban, Hezbollah Agents Nabbed in Drugs, Arms Stings: Feds

Siavosh Henareh has been named as a defendant in a case that investigators say concretely links the Taliban and Hezbollah in a weapons for drugs scheme. (U.S. Department of Justice)(NEW YORK) -- Four men involved in two drugs-for-weapons rings that allegedly intended to supply Stinger missiles, AK-47 automatic rifles, and U.S. carbines to the Taliban and material support to Hezbollah were arrested following a pair of Drug Enforcement Administration sting operations, officials in New York said Tuesday.

At least two of those men, Lebanese national Bachar Wehbe and Afghani national Tazar Gul Alizai, are in the U.S. and slated to appear before a federal court in Manhattan, according to federal law enforcement sources.

Investigators said that Gul Aliza, an alleged Taliban member, was busted selling assault rifles and large amounts of heroin to an undercover DEA agent in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Bachar Wehbe, a Lebanese alleged member of Hezbollah, and two other suspected Hezbollah associates were also busted by federal DEA agents posing as high-grade weapons dealers. These three were planning to use money from the heroin sales to buy Stinger surface-to-air missiles, AK-47 rifles and M-4 rifles, investigators said. Wehbe's alleged confederates, Siavosh Henareh and Cetin Aksu, are in custody in Romania and awaiting extradition to the U.S.

The cases are the third and fourth such weapons stings recently by the DEA, including the highly publicized case of international arms broker Victor Bout.

The operations are part of an aggressive expansion of their drug enforcement mission that has enabled federal prosecutors to successful make arms cases that otherwise may not have been brought into the U.S.

"Today's indictments provide fresh evidence of what many of us have been seeing for some time: the growing nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism, a nexus that threatens to become a clear and present danger to our national security," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

US Missiles Missed Anwar al-Awlaki by Inches in Yemen

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Just days after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the U.S. came within inches of taking out the next big target on their terror hit list, the man considered the biggest threat to America.

It was a tip from the Yemeni government that sent U.S. aircraft over the wilds of southern Yemen's Shabwa province in search of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical Islamic cleric and al Qaeda leader who has been linked to several deadly plots against America.

ABC News has learned that on May 5, the U.S. military dispatched a fearsome array of heavily armed warplanes including Marine Harrier jets, predator drones and a special operations aircraft carrying short range Griffin missiles to follow a pickup truck in which Awlaki was a passenger.

But unlike the successful mission that eliminated bin Laden, this raid would be marred by what an official described to ABC News as a series of "errors." Crews tracking Awlaki were unable to keep the laser from the targeting pod, which guides missiles into their targets, locked on the moving truck. The first missile came, launched from the special operations aircraft, missed.

The miss gave Awlaki time to call additional al Qaeda operatives for help. More vehicles descended on the area to confuse those tracking him.

With Harriers and a predator drone still overhead, the U.S. fired another missile at Awlaki. This time a huge fireball engulfed the pickup truck. The U.S. military trackers thought they had their man.

But then they watched, stunned, as the truck drove straight out of the fireball to safety. The missile had only grazed the back bumper.

The Harriers, which were almost out of gas, had to leave. The remaining aircraft tried to keep following Awlaki to take another shot. But then cloud cover got in the way. Awlaki was able to exploit a moment of hesitation while the targeting pods and the surveillance aircraft were refocusing to jump out of his pickup truck and move to another.

When the U.S. did finally manage to hit the original truck with missiles, killing the men inside, Awlaki was not one of them. Two operatives died, but Awlaki got away. There has been no sign of him since.

In early 2010, the Obama administration authorized the CIA and the U.S. military to kill Awlaki even though he is a U.S. citizen. Born in New Mexico, Awlaki moved to Yemen in 2004. Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad said he was inspired by Awlaki, and accused Ft. Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan exchanged emails with Awlaki. In January 2010, Awlaki said he had had contact with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be "underwear bomber" accused of trying to blow up Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul062011

Pakistan Begins to Investigate Osama Bin Laden Raid

AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- In the days after the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan's parliament demanded that the government create an independent commission to investigate how the U.S. secretly launched the attack and how the al Qaeda leader managed to hide in the military town of Abbottabad.

Now, that commission has finally begun its work.

It has released its first statement, demanding that bin Laden's family members should not be allowed to leave Pakistan without the commission's agreement.  It also invited anyone with information to testify in confidence before the end of the month.

It is not yet known whether the commission will be allowed to criticize the Pakistani military, or whether its findings will be made public.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun012011

Pakistani Panel to Probe Osama Bin Laden Raid

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- A Pakistani commission that will study the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in early May wants to be truly independent.

That means no intrusion from the military that most say is the real power in Pakistan.

The government has asked the panel to investigate how the al Qaeda leader was able to live undetected with his family for several years in the sprawling compound just a short distance away from Pakistan's version of the West Point military academy.

Commission members will also probe the U.S. Special Forces raid that killed bin Laden and learn what security lapses occurred on the Pakistani side.  The panel will then make its recommendations to parliament.

The probe comes at a time when Pakistan's military and intelligence services are under greater scrutiny than ever before, which might allow the government-assigned panel to be more critical than generally accepted of its national security forces.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May102011

Report: SEALs Were Ready to Fight Pakistani Troops in Bin Laden Raid

U.S. Navy/Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon(NEW YORK) -- The White House was leaving nothing to chance if the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound turned into a fight with Pakistani security forces, according to The New York Times.

Assuming that some within the Pakistani military and police might engage in a battle with Navy SEALs had they arrived at the site in Abbottabad where bin Laden was killed, President Obama ordered additional Special Forces teams to be at the ready to get the SEALs out, especially if they captured the al Qaeda leader alive.

There were two plans, according to senior officials who spoke with the Times.  One was to quickly bury bin Laden if necessary, while the other was to take him alive to an awaiting Navy ship in the North Arabian Sea, where a team of lawyers, interrogators and translators was assembled.

A senior White House official said the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command were given instructions “to avoid any confrontation if at all possible.  But if they had to return fire to get out, they were authorized to do it.”

As a result, the president ordered two Black Hawk helicopters with troops to tail the lead choppers with the SEALs that conducted the mission.  It turned out to be a fortunate decision, since the SEALs needed another helicopter to get out of Abbottbad after one of the lead Black Hawks malfunctioned and had to be destroyed.

Had the military engaged in a firefight with hostile Pakistani forces, it would have likely caused an irreparable break in relations between Washington and Islamabad.  Those relations appear close to the breaking point anyway because the Pakistanis were not told beforehand about the mission. 

Obama’s choice not to involve or even inform the Pakistani government about the raid to get bin Laden suggests the administration believed that they weren’t either up to the job of being a partner in it, or couldn’t be trusted to keep it quiet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May082011

Pakistani Ambassador: 'Heads Will Roll' After Osama bin Laden Raid

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- If Pakistani officials knew Osama bin Laden was living peacefully in the country, said Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani, they would have done something.

"If any member of the Pakistani government, the Pakistani military or the Pakistani intelligence service knew where Osama bin Laden was, we would have taken action," Haqqani told ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour. "Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan was not to Pakistan's advantage."

The strength of Pakistan's intelligence service and its cooperation with the United States have been questioned since the killing of Bin Laden nearly one week ago. U.S. forces killed the al Qaeda leader in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a military town about an hour's drive north of Islamabad, the capital. Bin Laden's compound was less than a mile away from an elite Pakistani military academy.

Pakistan is pursuing an investigation to understand how the al Qaeda leader could have been hiding right under the military's nose. It is premature to reveal the details of the investigation, said Haqqani. Punishment, if warranted, will be delivered, he added.

"Heads will roll once the investigation has been completed," Haqqani said. "Now if those heads are rolled on account of incompetence, we will share that information with you, and if, God forbid, somebody's complicity is discovered, there will be zero tolerance for that as well."

White House national security advisor Tom Donilon told Amanpour that Pakistan has in its custody all the non-combatants of the Abbottabad compound, including three of Bin Laden's wives. Pakistani officials also took additional material from the compound.

Pakistani officials have interviewed at least one of Bin Laden's wives.

"We understand that one of the wives never left the same floor as Osama bin Laden because they were paranoid of physical movement, they didn't go to windows, they didn't have any fresh air," the Pakistani ambassador revealed.

As to whether Pakistan will grant the United States access to the wives and the material in Pakistan's position, Haqqani stuck to a diplomatic script.

"What we do, Mr. Donilon will know," Haqqani said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Osama Bin Laden Raid: Al Qaeda 'Playbook' Revealed

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. intelligence is now in possession of a veritable "playbook" of al Qaeda operations -- from potential terror attack targets to information on international safe houses and top commanders -- thanks to the Navy SEAL raid that took down Osama bin Laden Sunday, officials told ABC News on Friday.

The cache of electronic and handwritten materials includes numerous hallmark al Qaeda plots including attacks on infrastructure targets such as water supply and transportation including rail and air. In the past, al Qaeda planned for attacks on water supplies have included an interest in mining dams and in poisoning water supply. In the days since the SEAL raid, intelligence experts have also have found what appears to be information about safe houses around the world and about al Qaeda leadership.

It is unclear just how active bin Laden was in coordinating any operations or in blessing overall strategies and plots. What is clear, officials said, is that intelligence analysts see weeks ahead of data mining and linking the cache of materials to past knowledge of plots that has come from detainees, cases and various forms of intercepts and surveillance.

While as yet no specific plots have been uncovered, there is a clear interest in attacks on the for most prominent U.S. cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The materials make clear that while at times in the past it has been suggested that dates are not a factor in Al Qaeda attack planning, in fact, one of the terror group's aspirations was to launch attacks on symbolic dates like Sept. 11, in hopes of giving even greater resonance to any success.

A bulletin issued Thursday by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by ABC News describes the terror organization's chilling desire to derail a train on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the document reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group. "As one option, al-Qa'ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."

In a statement, DHS press secretary Matt Chandler stressed that the message it sent out to its rail partners about a potential al Qaeda plot was "based on initial reporting, which is often misleading and inaccurate and subject to change. We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but do not intend to issue [a National Terrorism Advisory System] alert at this time." Chandler said the Transportation Security Administration would also send a bulletin to its rail sector stakeholders.

"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting," said Chandler.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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