Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pakistan Gave Washington Permission to Launch a Predator Drone Strike Against Osama Bin Laden in Tribal Areas

Photo of an American Predator Drone

Here's hoping we will have some real fireworks this Fourth of July!

Citing today's article by Rowan Scarborough in the Washington Times (7-2-08), the Dubai, UAE Khaleej Times Online (7-2-08) informs its audience:

Pakistan long ago gave Washington the right to launch an immediate Predator drone strike on Osama bin Laden, without first notifying Islamabad, if he is located in Pakistani tribal areas, The Washington Times reported Wednesday.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf granted this exception to other limits on US counterterrorism operations in his country "early" in the war against Al-Qaeda, launched in Afghanistan in October 2001, the Times said, citing "a knowledgeable official."

Islamabad does not allow US military ground forces on its soil, limiting the US presence in Pakistan to "scores" of CIA and paramilitary operatives, the Times noted, even though the Al-Qaeda chief is widely thought to be holed up in rugged Pakistani tribal areas.

Earlier this year, Pakistan rejected a request from President George W. Bush to increase the number of CIA personnel there, the Times said.

But military officials believe that if bin Laden's exact location were determined, a missile-equipped Predator drone could be airborne or redirected in flight "in a matter of minutes."

Special operations forces, by contrast, would have to be assembled, briefed and then flown to the location by helicopter, a time-consuming and risky process, the paper said.

Osama bin Laden remains elusive seven years after the September 11 terror attacks he is believed to have directed, and Pakistan has come under fire for restraints it has placed on US efforts to find him.

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